Munich tragedy 1958, the plane crash that knocked Manchester United

Munich tragedy 1958, the plane crash that knocked Manchester United
Los 'Busby Babes' del Manchester United (

Last update October 13, 2019 by Javier Argudo

The 6 February 1958 It happened one of the greatest tragedies for European football. Known as Munich tragedy, that shook the Manchester United, marked a before and after in the history of one of the biggest clubs in England.

The Manchester United, coming from Belgrade, after deletion of the Red Star– tying three in the field of Yugoslav champion- He stopped in Munich, to continue his trip to England. The weather conditions were bad, in fact, from the German airport, He came to announce the abolition of all flights. Own Duncan Edwards, the great figure of the team at that time and England, He even sent a telegram to his family: "All flights canceled. Stop. We fly tomorrow. Stop”.

It was not so, finally the control tower, after the express request of Commander Airspeed Ambassador, de Britsh European Airways, He granted the appropriate authorization for the flight will depart. The plane tried twice without success, there was a strong wind and sleet fell. At the third attempt he did not reach or rise, at high speed he crossed the runway, He tore down the fence that bordered the airport, out of it, estellarse finally into a house. Of the 44 people, between crew and passengers, They are traveling, they falllecieron 23, among them 8 footballers that could have been better Manchester United history.

Players Geoff Bent, Roger Byrne, Eddie Colman, Mark Jones, David Pegg, Tommy Taylor y Liam Whelan They died in the accident itself. The star of the team, Duncan Edwards I would die, in a hospital in Munich, two weeks later. They also lost their lives in the tragic accident, assistant coach, Tom Curry, sporting director, Bert Whalley and the secretary of the entity, Walter Crickmer. Manchester United who created the Scottish coach Matt Busby, tragically disappeared.

That team had won the league 1951-52, after forty-one years of "drought", with many players quarried, with the average age younger league (only 21 years) and a promising future based pamper created the basic equipment and make signings, few, but proven quality, as the Irish international Liam Whelan, Another star of that team, or who had been named "Player of the Year" last season, Jackie Blanchflower, from the Tottenham Hotspur.


Known as the “Busby babes”, by the youth of its workforce, It was the first English team to compete in the European Cup and together with Milan Y Real Madrid, He was a serious candidate to get the year 1957-58. Its European path was not easy, participation Manchester United It was a personal bet own Busby, to further convince the leaders of the F.A. that their clubs could not stay out of any prestigious tournament, despite the initial refusal of the English Federation, he considered that international commitments would detract interest in domestic competitions.

In the previous season, the Manchester United He reached the semifinals after losing to Real Madrid of di Stéfano, and that year Busby He considered that it was time to put an English club at the top of the European ladder. To this end it had a team luxury, with said Duncan Edwards (the youngest player to debut for England player until the arrival, thirty-three years later, of Michael Owen) Y Liam Whelan, He began to emphasize a young midfielder named Bobby Charlton, what, over time, It became the best English player in history and captain of the team that won the World 1966.

As in all tragedies of this magnitude, there is always chance and fate plays in favor of some and against others. Late it was low Jimmy Murphy, quoted by Wales to play a match against Israel, although the Manchester United He had asked the Welsh Football Federation to dispense footballer and allow travel to Belgrade, after a verbal yes, He came the not unexpected, Official and final, and the same day of the trip was summoned to replace him Geoff Bent, one of the young players who would die in the accident.

Munich tragedy 1958
8 Manchester United players died in the accident.

After the accident, England all turned to the club, although F.A. He gave them only two weeks margin to remake the team, loan players came from different English clubs (in addition to the eight dead, Jackie Blanchflower Y Johnny Berry They were forced to leave football practice, the severity of injuries suffered).

And the ball kept rolling. With a virtually new team, the Manchester United It was measured at Milan in the semifinals of the European Cup. The British managed to beat the Italians in Old Trafford by 2 a 1, but they ended up falling eliminated in Italy to be defeated by a resounding unmitigated 4 a 0.


In the domestic competition, the reconstructed Manchester, He won the ticket to the final of the FA Cup, the defeat in the replay, al West Bronwich Albion by 1 a 0. Was a 5 March 1958, met a day before the first month of the tragic event. The opponent would be another Manchester team, in this case outside, the Bolton, a club that did not get a title since 1929 and I saw there an opportunity I could not miss.

all of England, sensitized with Manchester United by the dramatic circumstances vivid, supported the “Busby babes”, now known as "Red Devils". And the pressures to mediate the Bolton They were tremendous, as some of his former players confessed years later. The United supported him even his most bitterest rivals City or Liverpool. It was the Bolton Wanderers against the rest of England, There was no more left.

Figure white computer was Nat Lofthouse, one of those "one club man", who played Bolton from fourteen (on the computer "reserve") until his retirement at thirty-five, having rejected numerous offers of equipment most important, including the own United, to stay in the club all his life. An honest guy who came to play for England in 33 occasions, achieving, nothing more and nothing less than 30 many. It remains the top scorer in the history of Bolton and a legend for its fans (his statue is present around the Macron Stadium).

And it was at that end of 1958, in which all England was with the Manchester United, when Lofthouse He achieved the goal that would give the only title of his career. A rocket of a shot from distance beat goalkeeper Gregg and turned the Bolton Cup champion. England cried for the defeat “Busby babes” and for a time, some fans, They not spared the goal of Lofthouse, reproachfully unfairly in many of the journeys performed whites Bolton. A bittersweet title that closed the most dramatic year for English football, that of 1958.

Frichu Yustas

I enjoy my two passions, football and music. Author of several books: "Atlas Music" (2007) along with other authors; "The rocks of Real Sporting de Gijón. History of a hobby" (2018) Rebeca Diaz with; "Football stories yesterday" (2019); "History of the CP Gijón Solimar" (2020). You can follow me on Twitter @fritzyustas

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