flowers of manchester

it’s been 50 years since the munich air disaster on 6th february 1958 that killed 8 of the busby babes from manchester united, along with 8 journalists (including frank swift, a former england goalie-turned-sportswriter), 3 staff members, 2 crew members and 2 other passengers.

a quick calculation will tell you that it occurred long before i was born and even longer before i became a united fan, so i can’t say that i am in any way affected by the tragedy. however, such an acute loss of life must have left a huge impact in the lives of the people who knew the 23 who died that day.

i don’t have much to contribute to this topic, considering the fact that i only gained an interest in football when manchester united won their first league title in 26 years when i was 8. i guess the only loss i feel is knowing that no one will ever see how far the busby babes could have gone had they never gotten on that plane.

still, the incredible story of how sir matt busby survived to rebuild his team in 10 years is the stuff of legends and i have no doubt that the crash was a pivotal moment in the history of the club and its legacy has a part to play in where united is today.

if you’ve never heard of the fatal accident, there are tonnes of websites and articles that are easily accessible by the magic of the world wide web. however, the following song tells it best.

rest in peace, the flowers of manchester.


the last line-up of the busby babes:
edwards, colman, jones, morgans, charlton, viollet, taylor, foulkes, gregg, scanlon, byrne.

one cold and bitter thursday in munich, germany,
eight great football stalwarts conceded victory,
eight men will never play again who met destruction there,
the flowers of english football, the flowers of manchester.

matt busby’s boys were flying, returning from belgrade,
this great united family, all masters of their trade,
the pilot of the aircraft, the skipper captain thain,
three times they tried to take off and twice turned back again.

the third time down the runaway disaster followed close,
there was slush upon that runaway and the aircraft never rose,
it ploughed into the marshy ground, it broke, it overturned,
and eight of the team were killed as the blazing wreckage burned.

roger byrne and tommy taylor who were capped for england’s side,
and ireland’s billy whelan and england’s geoff bent died,
mark jones and eddie colman, and david pegg also,
they all lost their lives as it ploughed on through the snow.

big duncan he went too, with an injury to his brain,
and ireland’s brave jack blanchflower will never play again,
the great matt busby lay there, the father of his team,
three long months passed by before he saw his team again.

the trainer, coach and secretary, and a member of the crew,
also eight sporting journalists who with united flew,
and one of them big swifty, who we will ne’er forget,
the finest english ‘keeper that ever graced the net.

oh, england’s finest football team its record truly great,
its proud successes mocked by a cruel turn of fate.
eight men will never play again, who met destruction there,
the flowers of english football, the flowers of manchester.

*for more information, visit:
manutd.com – feb 6th 1958 forever remembered
munich58 – munich remembered
wikipedia – manchester united f.c.
tribute on youtube – the flowers of manchester

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