Wednesday, February 06, 2008

A bunch of bouncing Busby Babes...

Fifty years ago today, a plane carrying the Manchester United team home from a European Cup game against Red Star Belgrade crashed upon takeoff after a refueling stop in Munich.

Seven United players died that day: Geoff Bent, Mark Jones, Billy Whelan, David Pegg, Eddie Colman, Roger Byrne, Tommy Taylor. An eighth, Duncan Edwards, died 15 days later in hospital, and two more -- Johnny Berry and Jackie Blanchflower -- were injured so badly that they never played again.

The other 15 men who died included three Manchester United officials -- club secretary Walter Crickmer, trainer Tom Curry and coach Bert Whalley -- eight journalists, one supporter, one steward, a travel agent and the co-pilot. Manager Matt Busby survived but was so badly injured that he didn't return to the club until the start of the following season.

In the aftermath, those who remained cobbled together a team that made it all the way to the FA Cup final that year, losing 2-0 to Bolton. But they were knocked out of the European Cup in the semi-final and finished ninth in the league.

I don't know what to say about this other than to lay out the bare facts like that. For more, there's this section on the United website (although it strikes me as somewhat ostentatiously mournful) and this gallery of the players who died, over at the Guardian.

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