This day 50 years ago.

Absolutely outstanding read on each of those who lost their lives.

Rest In Peace, and Thank You


Flowers of Manchester


Xavi6 Registered User

R.I.P. to all involved in crash both United and City. Frank Swift was a City legend. Most appearances list -

1 Alan Oakes 680
2 Joe Corrigan 603
3 Mike Doyle 570
4 Bert Trautman 545
6 Colin Bell 501
7= Billy Meredith 500
7= Eric Brook 500

Read a very good article today -


Survivors who felt left behind by club’s rise from the ashes
Matthew Syed

One of the unspoken truths about Wednesday’s anniversary is that, for many, it will be tainted by the perception that Manchester United have built their financial success by exploiting the memory of Munich while failing to pay proper recompense to those whose lives were blighted by the tragedy.

It is a perception that poisons the memories of the families whose lives were devastated by Munich, a perception that has left some fans feeling that the soul of the club was lost amid the wreckage of Flight 609 ZU, a perception that has been sharpened by the knowledge that while some of the survivors and families live in poverty, the present crop of players and directors drink Cristal by the crateful.

Albert Scanlon, the winger who fractured his skull in Munich and who lives in a nursing home, has views that typify the resentment that has festered since the tragedy. “Munich killed not only a lot of the players who were on that flight, but some of the survivors, too,” he said in The Lost Babes, Jeff Connor’s fascinating memoir. “Things changed for all time at Munich and United didn’t come up to par. They have never really done ’owt for me.”

Much of the bitterness relates to the months after the disaster and the treatment of the survivors and families by the club. Dennis Viollet, Bobby Charlton and Bill Foulkes were retained by Matt Busby, but Scanlon was off-loaded within a season and Kenny Morgans not long after. Johnny Berry, who was unable to play again because of the injuries he suffered in the crash,

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was asked to leave his grace-and-favour home off Davyhulme Road within 12 months of the crash to make way for Shay Brennan, a new player.

Jackie Blanchflower, another survivor whose injuries were such that he never played again, was given employment by Louis Edwards, later the club’s chairman, loading meat pies on to lorries, but Munich was the beginning of a downward spiral into poverty. “Mum used to say that he used up the family’s luck surviving Munich,” Blanchflower’s daughter, Laurie, said. “He was always being made redundant.”

Given the incalculable grief caused by the tragedy, it is difficult not to empathise with the bitterness directed at the club, but it is important to place United’s actions in the context of an institution that was itself fighting for survival in the aftermath of a calamity that had so damaged its team and staff. If Busby had kept players on the books in a way that could not be justified in footballing terms, or if the club had continued to offer homes and wages in perpetuity, Manchester United would have been bankrupted.

It is also not strictly true to say that the survivors and their families were neglected. United were underinsured, but the payout of £200,000 was shared equally by the club and the families of the players who lost their lives.

The club have also made gestures to survivors and families that have caused friction. Roger Byrne’s widow, Joy, and their young son were allowed to stay indefinitely at a club house for a peppercorn rent, while Viollet’s second wife, Helen, received a cheque from the club when he faced huge medical bills after the diagnosis of a brain tumour in 1998. Some who were aware of this generosity wondered why it had not been given to them.

The moral ambiguities that have marred the aftermath of Munich are, perhaps, most powerfully exemplified by the testimonial match played at Old Trafford in 1998 to mark the 40-year anniversary of the disaster (the match also doubled as a farewell to Eric Cantona, who had left the club the previous season).

When the committee organising the match said one share from the proceeds would go to each player still living and one to surviving relatives of the dead, it was bombarded by relatives of the airline crew and of the journalists who felt that they were also entitled to recompense. Others argued that Charlton and the Busby family should not be given a share because of their relative wealth.

“What has always hurt me is that not one of those players I played with took the trouble to pick up the phone or just drop me a card to say thank you,” John Doherty, the former player who helped to organise the match, said. “By the end I was sick of it.” Harry Gregg, the former goalkeeper, who was particularly scathing of the testimonial, said: “It has been so much PR bulls***.” He did, however, bank a cheque for £47,283.89.

Despite the bitterness directed towards the club, there are many who view United’s actions with equanimity. The family of Liam Whelan, the young Dublin forward who died in the crash, said: “All the money in the world couldn’t bring Liam back to us. We have never asked anything of Manchester United and never would.”

Perhaps the nub of the resentment derives from the niggling perception among victims that United have grown into financial giants by exploiting the memory of the tragedy. It is true that United’s rise from the ashes of Munich is central to the club’s mythology, but it cannot be sensibly argued that the disaster provides the primary explanation for their success.

However one views the actions of the club, it is undeniable that the air crash has given rise to a separate and, in some ways, more disquieting tragedy, reflected in the enduring bitterness towards United that many will take to their graves. Fifty years on, the trauma of Munich shows no signs of abating.

dr.bollocko Moderator

Good article. Good points. The memory of these lost players, and the outpouring of grief that came after the disaster has definitely played a huge part in shaping man utd and where they are now. I think they adopted black as a 3rd club colour because of this disaster. I hope that all minute silences go well. I certainly know there are still a lot of insults flying about this disaster.Leeds fans still call Utd. fans "Munichs" and make plane signs from the stands. Fairly sickening stuff.

Mr.Nice Guy Registered User

Interesting read. There were also two excellent back-to-back half-hour documentaries on BBC Four this past Monday night. Don't know if anyone caught them but one of them will be repeated on Wednesday night at 10pm. It featured footage of the players which Sir Bobby Charlton had not seen before. Harry Gregg also gave his thoughts. It was a moving documentary and I'd urge anyone to catch it if they can.

Mitch Connor Registered User


Read that piece by TAClare before, a few times now - great piece.

Saw the documentaries on BBC4 Monday night too - both excellent program, wish they had been longer though.


The Flowers of Manchester

One cold and bitter Thursday in Munich, Germany,
Eight great football stalwarts conceded victory,
Eight men who 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 a 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 to, with an injury to his frame,
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 was Big Swifty, who we'll 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

Rest in Peace.

jobonar Registered User


BaZmO* Registered User

Good article. Shows that you can damned if you do and damned if don't. It also shows that a lot of the time it's in a players interest to look after their interests while at a club as you can so quickly and easily become surplus to requirements.

I hope that all minute silences go well

I somehow seriously doubt that they will.

homerjay2005 Registered User

BaZmO* said:

I somehow seriously doubt that they will.

i expect that this will be run off peacefully.


There will be a small few who will disresect it - but I expect it to go off relatively trouble free bar the odd whistle and yell.

BaZmO* Registered User

homerjay2005 said:
i expect that this will be run off peacefully.

It will at most of the matches but I'd be extremely surprised if it's completely respected at the England game. Sure haven't they given up on minute silences in favour minute applauses at games now do to idiots shouting and whistling during them.

Nailz Registered User

UNITED they were... UNITED they stand...

blastman Registered User

The book mentioned in that article by Jeff Connor is an excellent read, I'd recommend it to anyone who loves the game.

One Love.


The following is a poem by Manchester poet Mike Garry about the commemorations of the fiftieth anniversary of the disaster. The last verse is especially touching:

Sixty Seconds of Silence

Hold your tongue
Speak not ill of the dead
Find your own silence inside
Seeking only the truth
That boys in their prime perished that night
And the very heart of this city stopped beating
Manchester flowers
Scattered across a foreign field of powder white snow

News hissed through
Like the gas on a cooker whose flame had blown out
Freckled faced paperboys on Peter St and Piccadilly
Crying louder than they had ever cried before

Sons were lost
Mothers sisters and wives deep sighed
Dads and brothers died inside
And red and blue stood side by side by side
In silence
Because silence is so much louder than applause

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