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Munich remembered

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February 6th, 1958.

Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

Today, February 6, is the 57th anniversary of the Munich air crash.

In 1958, on their way home from a European Cup game against Red Star Belgrade, Manchester United's plane, hindered by bad weather, failed to take off three times. On that third time, slush at the end of the runway prevented the plane reaching takeoff speed; it crashed through the end of the runway, into a nearby house, and snapped in half.

Twenty-three people died in the crash: eight journalists, including former Manchester City goalkeeper Frank Swift; two member of the plane's crew; two other passengers; Walter Crickmer, club secretary; Tom Curry, trainer; and Bert Whalley, chief coach.

And, of course, eight players: Geoff Bent, Roger Byrne, Eddie Colman, Mark Jones, David Pegg, Tommy Taylor, Billy Whelan, and Duncan Edwards, who survived the crash but died fifteen days later in hospital.

Two other players, Johnny Berry and Jackie Blanchflower, never played again. Sir Matt Busby spent the next two months in hospital, was read his last rites twice, and considered retiring from football altogether. Meanwhile Jimmy Murphy, who had missed the trip due to international commitments with Wales, had to guide a gutted, devastated club through the rest of the season.

To mark the anniversary, the club has put up a Munich microsite, containing video, profiles of the Busby Babes, and plenty more reading. Over on Eurosport, Miguel Delaney has written an excellent piece on the ten years that followed, and how Busby rebuilt the club into European Champions.

Here is the BBC News report from the day:

Here is a British Pathé mini-documentary about the crash (which, by way of a heads-up, contains footage of the players in hospital and the funeral processions):

And here, finally, is a Sky tribute from a few years ago, the Flowers of Manchester: