On the 6th February 1958 a tragedy unparalleled in sporting history took place at Munich Airport. Manchester United were robbed of seven players, some officials and the press lost some good reporters and photographers. Bitter rivals Manchester City lost Frank Swift, a legend at the club. Many still believe that West German officials covered up evidence at the time. This article attempts to clear this up.
On February 3rd the entire Manchester United party boarded aircraft G-ALZU (Known as Zulu Uniform) under the command of Captain James Thain for charter flight B-line 609 from Manchester to Belgrade. The route was arranged via Munich both ways for refuelling as a direct route was out of range. At the airport the Asst Team Manager, Jimmy Murphy, was there to see them off. In his other capacity as Manager of the Welsh National team he was required in Cardiff for a forthcoming international against Israel and was to remain behind. On board, the party settled down for the journey that lay ahead whilst the Captain checked the passenger list, reading the names like a “Who’s Who” of British Football greats. Roger Byrne, 28, the clubs team captain and Manchester born. Geoff Bent; Jackie Blanchflower, brother of Irish International Danny, Bobby Charlton, brother of the equally famous Jackie; Eddie Colman, 21, a schoolboy discovery; Duncan Edwards, 23, once the youngest ever player to play for England; Billy Foulkes; Harry Gregg, goalkeeper, bought recently for £23000; Mark Jones, 24, another schoolboy discovery; Ken Morgans, 18, the youngest of the “Babes” – who, once selected – he was never dropped and during the current season had played 28 times and United never lost one game. David Pegg, 22, International; Tommy Taylor, most expensive player (4 years previous transferred from Barnsley for £29,999). Dennis Violett; Bill Whelan. An unprecedented list of British football talent of which the total complement was valued at the then astonishing sum of £350,000. With Matt Busby, himself a past player for great rivals Manchester city, as well as a former Scottish international, and now the much respected manager since his appointment after the war, were a dedicated threesome. Walter Crickmer, secretary; Bert Whalley, coach, and Tom Curry, trainer. Each had been with the club since the 30s. The press were also well represented in the party with many reporters from local and national papers.
And Tonight Game
Derby kit unveiled
The special retro kit to be worn by United for tonight Manchester derby has been unveiled.The strip, which has been specially designed without kit manufacturer or sponsorship logos, is based on the kit worn by the Busby Babes in the 1950s - in recognition of this week's 50th anniversary of the Munich air disaster.Also abandoned are modern squad numbers, with United's 16-man squad set to don numbers 1 through 16 on Sunday after gaining special dispensation from the Premier League.Chief executive David Gill said: "The sincere thanks of the Club go to AIG and Nike for their wholehearted backing for the kit change, and to the Premier League for allowing us to mark the event in a unique way."
Like United, opponents Manchester City will don a retro strip, free of sponsorship, especially for Sunday's match. A black ribbon motif, bearing the words ‘Manchester Remembers,’ has also been incorporated.Both teams will observe a minute's silence and every fan attending will receive a special memento.