Saturday, 6 February 2016
Tribute: The Flowers of Manchester.
The club was returning from a successful match in Belgrade and had stopped in Munich to refuel.
The events that unfolded after the party boarded the plane for the last time would be engraved not only in the memories of those who lived through the terrible tragedy that would unfold, but also in the generations of supporters who would carry the light of their lost heroes forward so that no one would ever forget.
On the day of the tragedy seven players lost their lives in the plane crash, they were Roger Byrne, Tommy Taylor, Mark Jones, Eddie Colman, David Pegg, Liam Whelan and Geoff Bent these were followed by Duncan Edwards, the greatest player of his and possibly later generations, who passed away a fortnight later in hospital after a brave fight. The heart of the Red Devils had been ripped out in the cruelest of ways. Matt Busby was left fighting for his life, not knowing the truth about his beloved Babes.
Many words have been written down the years detailing that fateful day and I like millions of others have read most of the accounts, which have not only included biographies of the victims but also the stories of heroism by some of the survivors. Heroes like Harry Gregg who risked his own life to help the people trapped inside the burning wreckage.
There were many contributing factors that led to the crash the biggest of which was the pressure on Busby to get his team back to England in time for their upcoming match on the coming Saturday. If only they had been given a little leeway on the return time they could have delayed the flight until the terrible weather conditions had cleared. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.
Along with the survivors of the crash Harry Gregg, Bill Foulkes and the legend that is Bobby Charlton. Murphy begged, borrowed and almost stole players so that United could put out a team for their first match.
It is a true testament to Murphy that he managed to take the side all the way back to Wembley for the FA Cup final. Even though we lost the match the result didn't really matter, the occasion did, as Matt Busby managed to join his team at the stadium where most of his fallen babes had played the season before.
It should also be remembered that the English FA were strongly against Manchester United entering the European Cup beginning the uneasy tension that has been evident between the two ever since.
There is no doubt that with the talent in the team they would have matched and most probably surpassed the great Real Madrid. Already dominant in England it was a formality that Europe would fall at their feet. The average age of the team was only 24, so it is safe to say they would have been together for many years ahead. Many of the players were England internationals and could easily have helped to win the World Cup before 1966.
As each year passes, it's only natural that people connected with the events surrounding Munich pass away, but what is important is that we should never forget that this one heartbreaking disaster is the bedrock of our truly great club. The tears for our lost Flowers of Manchester should never stop flowing and nor should people forget the legacy that Matt Busby and his Babes gave to the greatest club in the world and football.
They are the team that will never die. They are the Flowers of Manchester.
Thanks for reading.