Manchester United will hold a commemorative service at Old Trafford today as the club pay their respects to the 23 people who were killed in the Munich air disaster 60 years ago.
Manager Jose Mourinho and his current crop of stars are expected to attend the service while Old Trafford legends such as Sir Bobby Charlton, who survived the plane crash, and Sir Alex Ferguson will also be in attendance.
Fans have visited Duncan Edwards’ grave in Birmingham to honour the youngest player to have been killed 15 days after the tragic plane crash.
The service will include readings and poems ahead of a minute’s silence at 15:04 GMT, marking the time of the plane crash six decades ago.
Flowers and tributes have been laid out at OId Trafford as fans pay their respects 60 years on from the Munich air disaster
Supporters have also visited Duncan Edwards’ grave to pay respects to the youngest player who was killed in the disaster
Manchester United and England star Edwards died 15 days after the tragedy which shocked the world in 1958 — the image on the right shows a tribute by FC United of Manchester — a side set up by fans of the Red Devils
Munich air disaster memorial scarves are sold outside Old Trafford as the club prepare to honour the 23 victims of the crash
The wreckage of the plane which saw players, staff and journalists killed, is seen after the crash on February 6, 1958
Manchester United’s Busby Babes before the devastating crash: Back row (left-right): Colin Webster, Wilf McGuinness, Jackie Blanchflower, John Doherty, Eddie Colman. Middle row: Tom Curry (coach), Bill Foulkes, Bobby Charlton, Fred Goodwin, Ray Wood, Billy Whelan, Mark Jones, Duncan Edwards, Bill Inglis (assistant). Front row: Dennis Viollet, John Berry, Matt Busby (manager), Roger Byrne, Jimmy Murphy (assistant), Tommy Taylor, David Pegg
MUNICH: FATALITIES AND SURVIVORS
Manchester United players
Geoff Bent, aged 25
Roger Byrne, aged 28
Eddie Colman, aged 21
Duncan Edwards, aged 21, survived the crash but died in hospital 15 days later
Mark Jones, aged 24
David Pegg, aged 22
Tommy Taylor, aged 26
Liam ‘Billy’ Whelan, aged 22
Manchester United staff
Walter Crickmer, club secretary
Tom Curry, trainer
Bert Whalley, chief coach
Captain Ken Rayment, co-pilot, survived the crash but died in hospital three weeks later
Tom Cable, cabin steward
Alf Clarke, Manchester Evening Chronicle
Donny Davies, Manchester Guardian
George Follows, Daily Herald
Tom Jackson, Manchester Evening News
Archie Ledbrooke, Daily Mirror
Henry Rose, Daily Express
Frank SWift, News of the World, died on his way to hospital
Eric Thompson, Daily Mail
Bela Miklos, travel agent
Willie Satinoff, United supporter and close friend of Matt Busby
Manchester United players
Johnny Berry, never played again
Jackie Blanchflower, never played again
Manchester United staff
Matt Busby, manager
Margaret Bellis, stewardess
Rosemary Cheverton, stewardess
George William ‘Bill’ Rodgers, radio officer
Captain James Thain, pilot
Journalists and photographers
Ted Ellyard, Daily Mail telegraphist
Peter Howard, Daily Mail photographer
Frank Taylor, News chronicle reporter
Vera Lukic, wife of a Yugoslavian diplomat
Vesna Lukic, her baby daughter
Elanor Miklos, wife of Bela Miklos
Nebojsa Bato Tomasevic, Yugoslavian diplomat
The ill-fated aircraft was bringing Matt Busby’s youthful team back via Munich from Belgrade on February 6, 1958 after they had reached the European Cup semi-finals.
The plane crashed on its third take-off attempt in icy weather, costing the lives of eight players and three members of the club’s staff. Twenty-three people died in total.
Charlton and Harry Gregg are the only survivors out of the group of players who lived through the crash.
‘The day that is absolutely shown in red on this week’s calendar is on Tuesday, a day that marks the 60th anniversary of the air disaster,’ Spanish forward Juan Mata wrote in his blog on United’s website.
‘The victims will never be forgotten, they will always be remembered and will be a part of United’s history forever. The passion, determination and courage shown by the club to carry on in those horrible moments have left an indelible mark forever.’
Marcus Rashford, who follows in United’s proud tradition of blooding young, homegrown players, said he learned about the disaster as a young child.
‘It was when I was about seven or eight,’ the 20-year-old striker told United Review.
‘There were already little things about it around (the club) at that age, but then you start to learn more about it, and when you got to 15 or 16, that was when (former academy coach) Paul McGuinness really started to bring it to our attention.
‘We used to watch a lot of the videos of games, especially from their FA Youth Cup runs, so we could see footage of what these players were like when they were young. It’s so close to home, it touches your heart and helps you understand it, even though you weren’t there.’
Ashley Young took to Twitter earlier in the day to urge his team-mates to ‘take inspiration’ from the likes of Charlton.
He wrote: ‘Today we remember and mourn but we must also take inspiration from the response to the tragedy and people like Sir Bobby Charlton. It’s a privilege for all of us to still have him around and active at Manchester United.’
This was the lead story on the front page of the Daily Mail from February 7, 1958
Manchester United’s team boards the BEA Elizabethan on the way to the European Cup match in Belgrade
The plane attempted to take off in heavy snow in Munich but weather affected the engine
A German policeman looks into the wrecked passenger cabin of the Elizabethan
Former Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney paid his respects on Instagram by posting this iconic image
Manchester United’s Ashley Young took to Twitter to praise the club’s reaction to the Munich air disaster in 1958
Manchester United captain Michael Carrick was also one of several players who paid their respects on social media
John Valentine, who sells scarves outside Old Trafford, said the Munich crash is ‘ingrained in the history of this club’.
‘If I come back in another 500 years it will still be being talked about,’ said Valentine, born in the year of the disaster. ‘You can’t forget something like that – a team nearly wiped out in a plane crash.’
Among the eight who died, the player most revered is half-back Edwards, who survived the crash but succumbed to his injuries two weeks later.
‘I missed out on those players but I have spoken to people who did and they talk about Duncan Edwards,’ said Valentine.
Valentine says the fact around 2,000 United fans are due to go to Munich for the anniversary shows how important the events of February 1958 still are, even to the young.
Kion Brown, who was at Old Trafford with his father and fellow diehard United fan Everton on the day of his ninth birthday last week, reflected how it resonates even with youngsters, even though little footage remains of the ‘Babes’.
‘I keep him (Kion) up to date and brought him to see the (memorial) clock and see all the players who died. It (the anniversary) is a big day for us,’ the 35-year-old said.
Busby, who was twice given the last rites by a priest, remarkably survived the crash and guided United to an emotional win in the European Cup 10 years later with Charlton captaining the side and scoring twice.
‘That was like the Holy Grail for the club,’ said Valentine. ‘Because of the crash in 1958 Busby wanted the cup for those boys who perished and the club.
‘And we got it as well!’
Manchester United fans paid their respects on Saturday afternoon by unveiling banners during the 2-0 win over Huddersfield