We're supposed to be doing these players in alphabetical order, but death has the power to interrupt all plans, and we'll be making exceptions for any former United players that happen to shrug off this mortal coil. Any suggestions that this is because obituaries make our work much easier will be treated with the contempt they deserve.
So, Freddie Goodwin. Another product of United's youth system, he made his debut in November 1954 but spent his first three seasons at the club on the edge of the first team. That changed in February 1958, when eight players, three officials and twelve others were killed in the Munich air disaster. Goodwin, who hadn't been selected for the trip, was suddenly thrust into the first team; he was part of the team that played in the first game immediately following the crash, a 3-0 FA Cup win over Sheffield Wednesday. The programme that day was printed with a blank team sheet, because nobody knew who was left to play.
Must be an absolute bastard, that. The joy and pride of playing for Manchester United entirely absent because your friends and colleagues who should be playing with you — and maybe ahead of you — are dead.
Not that he wasn't a decent player, mind. A wing-half, he played every game in the post-Munich run to the 1958 FA Cup final, and then he was a first-team fixture the following season as United rebuilt. In total he made 107 appearances over six seasons, scoring eight goals, before moving on to Leeds and Scunthorpe. A broken leg ended his time as a player, but he had a long and moderately interesting managerial career, which included giving Trevor Francis his debut at Birmingham City, then coaching the Minnesota Kicks in the glorious, peculiar, short-lived NASL.
Heh, "Minnesota Kicks". Americans are funny.
Goodwin was also one of a long-lost breed: he played both football and cricket. Expanding calendars and increased professionalism means that such multifaceted sportsman have to specialise early in their career; the Neville brothers are perhaps United's most recent example, with Phil in particular having to make the choice between United and Lancashire. But Goodwin at least managed to delay his decision long enough to get a few first-class games in, playing 11 times for the Red Rose in 1955 and '56. He was never much of a batsman, but he took 27 wickets at a handy 26.48, including a career best 5-35 against Middlesex.
Heh, "Middlesex". English people are funny.
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Freddie Goodwin (28 June 1933-19 February 2016)
107 appearances (1954-1960), 7 goals