Manchester United's Munich Tragedy: February 6, 1958 - The Day the 'Busby Babes' Died

The accident happened on February 6, 1958, during the third attempt to take off the plane in a snowstorm, and eight players, several crew members and even 8 journalists were dead

by Sededin Dedovic
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Manchester United's Munich Tragedy: February 6, 1958 - The Day the 'Busby Babes' Died
© Christopher Furlong / Getty Images

On this day, February 6, 1958, soccer was struck by a tragedy that shook the whole world, but the memory is still kept in the hearts of Manchester United fans around the world. It was the day they lost their lives as young and talented players.

They were the most talented in Britain, and when they are the most talented on the Island, then you are the same on the whole planet.

Munich Catastrophe

As the Manchester United team returned from the European Cup match against Crvena Zvezda Belgrade, anticipation was mixed with exhaustion.

The trip was tiring, and the team was eager to get home after a tough fight on the field. Little did they know that their journey in the snow-covered city of Munich would take a tragic turn. The events of that fateful day unfolded very quickly.

The plane carrying the Manchester United delegation landed in Munich for a routine refueling stop. However, what should have been a routine procedure turned into a nightmare as the aircraft struggled to take off in adverse weather conditions.

After two failed attempts, the third and final attempt ended in disaster as the plane crashed, shattering lives and dreams in an instant. Among the casualties were eight talented soccer players, including captain Roger Byrne, whose leadership and skill were instrumental in leading the team.

Along with him died: Tommy Taylor, Geoff Bent, Eddie Colman, Mark Jones, David Pegg, Billy Whelan and Duncan Edwards. Their names will forever be engraved in soccer history, and Manchester United invests heavily in order to preserve this memory.

Manchester United player Tommy Taylor, one of the Busby Babes pictured in his United kit holding an orange match ball circa 1957© Getty Images / Getty Images

Not even the eight journalists who covered the famous English club survived the accident in Munich.

Several crew members were also killed, as well as the coaching staff of Manchester United. The final epilogue of the accident was 23 deaths. Despite the misfortune of that season, United continued to compete in Europe, but lost to Milan in the semi-finals of the European Champions Cup.

The loss reverberated far beyond the borders of Manchester, of course. It sent shockwaves through the soccer community, uniting fans around the world in grief and solidarity. Tributes poured in from all over, almost all celebrities publicly expressed their condolences and paid tribute to those who fell.

Faced with tragedy, the soccer world then united. For Manchester United, the aftermath of the Munich air disaster was a period of deep sadness. In the midst of overwhelming grief, the club found strength in unity, coming together to honor the memories of their fallen comrades.

Only thirteen days after the tragedy, they took the field again, a symbol of defiance in the face of adversity.

Wes Brown, Paul Scholes, Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs wear a unique Manchester United kit.

To commemorate the anniversary of the © Manchester United / Getty Images

Under the leadership of manager Matt Busby, who himself was seriously injured in the crash, Manchester United embarked on a remarkable journey of recovery and redemption.

Despite the loss of key players, he refused to be defined by the tragedy, and continued to compete bravely. After returning to the field, they caused amazement among the fans and alleviated their sadness at least a little. The spirit of the "Busby Babes" transcended the boundaries of sports, this is a historical event that should be remembered.

Today, as we pause to remember the lives lost in the Munich air disaster, we honor all who have died. Although they may be gone, their legacy lives on both in Manchester and around the world.

Flowers of Manchester

A poignant anthem, often sung at Manchester United fan memorial events held at Old Trafford every February, is The Flowers of Manchester.

In October 1958, The Flowers Of Manchester anonymously graced the pages of Sing, a folk magazine. Although the lyrics were published, they were not accompanied by a musical note, except for the note that it accompanied the melody of High Germany.

It was later revealed that Eric Winter, Sing's editor, had written the lyrics. The earliest known musical performance was by The Spinners, a folk group originally from the North West, and featured on their album 'Quayside Songs Old and New', released on the educational label HMV-CLP1500, in 1962.

This song was recorded at Cecil Sharp House by Peter Kennedy, and is a cultural piece. "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 frame Johnny Berry and 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"

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