I'd never seen unc as mad at me as that night ,in the end he lost in and shouted that if i didn't either get a move on he would leave me there an then and wouldn't be taking me again,that was when i realized what to-night meant,having come out of my little tantrum and seeing the look on uncs face i knew he wasn't joking,the bob hat got thrown in a corner and with a heavy heart we set off for old trafford.This was a strange journey we didn't go to the pub,and there was very little talk about Sheff wed and how we'd beat them,no speculation on what the team would be...it was like something wasn't right(well it wasn't was it ) anyway as we got closer to the ground and the train was full .A few murmurings were starting to come and a slight atmosphere was coming back,off the train, saunter down Warwick road and the noise was getting more like a match day,as people passed the ticket office at the scoreboard end they were removing there caps and just stopping for a brief second just to acknowledge those we'd lost(including all the Sheff wed fans who turned up that night)a lot of the talk was about sir Matt and Dunc...sir Matt's news was more encouraging than that of Dunc's and whether you believed or not people were all saying little prayers for Dunc(it was after this that i became an atheist).........through the turnstiles,certainly no pushing or jostling to-night,everybody was on their best behaviour,all told there was nearly 60,000 in the ground that night,and if you think its quiet at o.t now that night for up to 15 Min's before kick off was like a ghost ground,people were talking but in a whisper,no shouting no noise from the Wednesday fans(it was as if they were waiting for utd fans to start up first)..the programme was eerie,the Sheff wed side was filled in but utd's was left blank and you had to fill it in yourself , the team was read out over the tannoy utd's side that night was;..........gregg..foulkes..greaves..goodwin..co pe..crowther..webster..taylor.E..dawson..pearson.. brennan.......Then they appeared and the wave of emotion that swept round the ground was unbelievable,grown men were crying(i am now )then up went the rattles and scarves and the noise just grew and grew,it's hard to describe but to a young lad like me I'd never witnessed anything like it noise wise...i have since...but that at the time was special.Everything just seemed to get back to normal for that next 2 hrs we outplayed Sheff wed(but in all honesty i felt sorry for anybody who had to turn up against utd that night)not that we were great it just that we played on a wave of euphoria...they weren't playing for utd but for sir Matt and big Dunc and all the lads who didn't come back , the relief on there faces was plain for everybody to see when the first goal went in(Brennan),then Dawson scored and Brennan rounded it off for his second and utd's third..the game went so fast it only seemed 10 Min's from kick off to actually walking back up Warwick road,on the train i looked at my programme again and sat and reflected..was this a good side..it would be better when Dunc was back in and sir Matt there controlling everything between them we'd be back ..we had to for those that didn't make it....we'd got forest at home Saturday,we were 2 games from getting to wembley,and also a small matter of a semi final against A.C Milan.....Dunc could beat that lot on his own.....couldn't he............
feb 21 1958
after a day at school the news came through that Dunc had lost his fight for life,the one thing i do remember was standing outside Mrs grimshaws watching the news bulletin and watching the doctor who had been at Dunc's side all the way looking absolutely shattered and he was shedding tears as he read out the bulletin ,in between times which i to this day don't remember how but Mrs grimshaw had seen how i was crying and she brought me in and i was crying into her pinny(they all wore them in them days)she was really good to every body but at that moment in time was just what i needed..i had lost my hero, in fact it felt as though I'd lost everything.....
if you will bear with me but just recently i said that i would try and put into perspective the pre Munich side and my thoughts on the players individually..i would like to start with the person i have just mentioned,my hero .
He had unrivalled stamina and could have run for hours. He could shoot powerfully with either foot, was dominant in the air, was strong in the tackle, and was a superb passer of the ball.
Think of bobby Charlton's shot,presently i would say Wayne Rooney, big bill foulkes in the air again nowadays i would look at Nemanja Vidic ,nobby stiles tenacity and tackling again look at Roy Keane, pat crerand with the astute defence splitting pass plus not wasting a pass and Paul Scholes off today, then you had Edwards,and some more....he had an aura about him that at 21 no other footballer had or has had in my time..he had seasoned pro's,internationals all with good pedigree looking for inspiration when things weren't going right from this giant of a man ,no matter what i say i just cannot do this man justice...he would have led England and utd for years to come and would have undoubtedly have lifted the world cup i believe in 62 and 66,i am proud to say i have seen him,been hit by him and spoken to him(it was only for an autograph but just to be stood at the side of him with mouth open and dribbling better than g.best was and is forever in my memory)
i am going(if you wish) to go through all the pre munich side and give my opinion and try and put them into perspective of recent players..
I've been on this site for a while now and weirdly never noticed this thread. Awesome stories. I hope to be doing something similar in 50 years time. Probably won't need to though as all the modern stories on the internet anyway. Great to hear about these players though when there isn't much footage of them.
Billy was a magician with a ball at his feet. I really don't think he knew how good he was and how much better he could have become. A world-class forward. There is no doubt about that. His vision and passing was sheer class i remember seeing 'billy' taking on and beating at least six players on a run and then beating himself he was that kind of player,as you can see from his goalscoring record he knew where the net was,he wasn't a ronaldo ,his shot wasn't as hard but is approach play was better he used to look up and could see players in better positions and could somehow get the ball through to them,its only after they are not there that you realise how good they were,if you could imagine giggsy the way he can or could beat people but put the ball across with a touch of cantona then you have whelan(he wasn't a winger but he could drift wide and confuse defences because in them days players were supposed to stay in set positions it was only when real Madrid started to use different formations that we realised football could be played differently as.... sir Matt exploited,but billy sensed it more than most he used to drift ,therefore making more room for the rest of the forwards)being only 22 when he died it meant that yet again united had lost a talent that not only had we seen the best of but one that we would have seen rule .though not as powerful as Dunc he would still as been as influential in the forward line..............again sorely missed ,but glad i witnessed a man who was so gracious on a football pitch....as he was off it..
Tommy Taylor - aged 26, forward, 189 apps., 128 goals, 19 England caps, 16 goals
one of the all-time, best centre-forwards in the game, and he had yet to realise all his potential. He was a typically bluff Yorkshire man in many ways, often acting the clown, and a great team man.i in all honesty as never seen a man as good with his head as this man,he wasn't the most powerful off headers of a ball(that went to Dunc)but his timing was immaculate,i know we old b*st*rds exaggerate about the old players but believe me this pre-Munich side was something else,the potential was there for years to come and England as a football nation was put back something awful,in Tommy we and England had someone who could scare defenders to death,one minute you had him in your pocket the next the ball was nestled in the back of the net,Sir Alf Ramsey once said that Martin peters was 10 years ahead of everybody well as a forward Tommy was 20.he was rapier like on the deck but his strength was in the air , he ghosted past defenders and made goals look easy which to me is the hard part and what made him as good as he was,at 26 he was just coming into his prime and you could see this in the short time I'd been going to watch utd,he led the line like no other forward I've seen since,possibly the nearest thing(sorry person)I've seen since as got to be ruud,Dennis(law)was part of a team,ruud really played on his own....but Tommy ..well was Tommy and he could play both,as a forward that held up play or as a team man who dropped off and then was in the box when you least expected him to be..........again all i can say is once seen never too be forgotten.....at least not by me........does the mind play funny tricks,am i biased,am i a daft red......maybe yes too all these.....but these are my memories AND I LOVE EM.........
Mark Jones - aged 24, half-back, 120 appearances, 1 goal.
The big, blond ex-bricklayer, a former captain of the England schoolboy's team, had joined United from Yorkshire junior football and turned professional in the summer of 1950. That autumn, still only 17, he tasted League action for the first time in a home victory over Sheffield Wednesday, but then faced a four-year wait for a regular place. Duly he emerged from the shadow of his boyhood hero, Allenby Chilton, who played an important and selfless part in the youngster's development, helping to iron out initial crudeness in the Jones technique. Mark was a fellow without an ounce of malice and his gentleness was a byword. Mark was the archetypal pivot, broad of beam, crushing in the tackle and majestic in the air. He was an uncomplicated sort of player and rarely ruined his ball-winning efforts by squandering possession with over-ambitious distribution. A simple pass to Duncan Edwards or Eddie Colman was his preferred option. jones only ever scored one goal for united and that was in a 2-1 win against Birmingham,i remember one day listening to mark Jones talking to a fan outside the ticket office and it wasn't about football it was about budgerigars (while he was smoking a pipe,some advert for a pro footballer.....lol)and this was a man who an hour later would be crunching into a tackle like a bulldozer,he was another who through Munich never fulfilled his potential,another who in my humble opinion was destined for a long career as England centre half,though not the best centre half I've seen at united i cannot think of one that was harder,he was the verbal brick sh*thouse and would run through anything for united.Again another i was priviliged to see but yet again one who i never saw the best of and one that was talked about less than others but appreciated by anyone who saw him,i can only finish by saying ........thanks........
Roger Byrne - aged 28, full-back. 277 appearances, 19 goals, 33 England caps.
One of the greatest defenders in Manchester United's history, Byrne was a father figure to the Busby Babes and tragically died alongside many of them in the Munich air disaster. when i say that no left back has come up to the standard of roger byrne you will probably not believe me,especially when we have been gifted with evra,Heinze...Irwin(close) and Dunne(what a good fullback he was!!) it very nearly wasn't to be though because in the 51/52 season sir Matt played roger on the wing(now you'll have to take my word for it or look it up)where if i believe what unc said he scored 7 goals in 6 games but because he wanted to play at left back he put in a transfer request,sir Matt realised what he would loose, reverted roger back to left back where he became(what i believe)the best left back in united's history. Despite being just 24, the Gorton lad was tough as teak, fully committed to the game and opinionated enough to stand up to anyone... even Matt Busby. when you think of the great captains united have had ie keano(not for me)robbo....charlton...byrne is always the one who sticks out, Roger was so fast but at the same time he controlled his movement ,he was possibly one of the first attacking fullbacks and it was really only after he was gone that you realised how good a) as a player b)as a captain and c)as an inspirational figure and man he was.........again i now realise what a very lucky person i was to have seen these(were they mere mortals(i didn't think s)people play....
David Pegg - aged 22, forward, 148 appearances, 28 goals, 1 England cap.
At just 22 he had amassed an incredible 148 games for United and had got his first cap against Ireland the previous May.He was an elegant, graceful left-winger with a precise cross and knack for getting away from his markers. He also possessed a powerful shot which provided him with 28 goals.Pegg was a ball playing winger who fullbacks found him hard to mark as he was in the habit of dropping a shoulder and jinking inside as he glided towards goal.he was a player i could watch and wonder how he had left his full back for dead,at 22 he wasn't as big as some of the other players but again typical of a busby player a)he was fit and would run all day....b)he had skill....and c) he had humility,he was another who would stop and talk to fans over anything,i remember once sir Matt coming out to get Pegg,Dunc and Eddie Colman outside the players entrance they were too busy talking and signing autographs to realise there was only 45 mins too kick off.I'll not forget Sir Matt saying "David would have been a great asset to any team because he was a natural, left-flank player. David was very, very clever. Our best left-winger by a mile." it was strange in the end that he actually went to Partisan because Peggy was going through a bad patch and he'd lost his place to Albert Scanlon who had come in after united had been beaten 1-0 to Chelsea and Peggy had had a bit of a mare..........i looked on it as a 22 year old just losing a bit of confidence...........but he was a really good player with much much more to come..if only.............and did you know he once spoke to me................I'll never forget..........
Eddie Colman - aged 21, half-back. 107 appearances, 2 goals
The 21-year-old was a mesmerising crowd-pleaser who had already played in 107 games and helped the club to a pair of Football League Championships
He was a player of prodigious skill, nicknamed ‘snake hips’ for his ability to jink his way past defenders with the ball at his feet. He was sometimes accused of being selfish, but when he did pass the ball it was always with accuracy,The only thing missing from his game was goals, with only two to his name, but by the time of his death his ability to provide them for others had made him a key member of the team,Eddie was a terrific player with everything to come his potential was unending,i honestly don't know how good he could have become,if he'd been allowed to mature and learn his trade even a 10% improvement would have made him some player,a god.....in a way his forward movement and his ability to beat players was as good if not better than ronaldo off today's players(obviously his goalscoring let him down ,but if he'd had an eye for goal he would have been...............words cannot explain.....i would have been salivating.....life is just not fair!!!)
Unfortunately for Bent, despite his tenacious tackling, cool distribution and youthful pace, he spent his short career as an understudy to established full-backs Roger Byrne and Bill Foulkes, filling in on either side of the defence for a mere 12 league games.
Nevertheless, he was immensely loyal and proud of playing for United. His most treasured possession was a newspaper photograph of him tackling the legendary Tom Finney.
Geoff Bent was one of the best players not to have played regularly for united that i can remember ,he would have walked into and been a regular at any other first division side
When Geoff matured and reached his twenties there were many clubs after him but he stayed loyal. He could look after himself and was a great tackler. Roger Byrne was a consistent player and very brave, that was the reason Geoff got so few games, we were a very lucky team in the fact that people like Geoff Bent was united through and through ,he never complained ,never asked for a transfer and was willing to bide his time..........when you look the united way as always been the same,it still applies today and hopefully will go on in the future,players are or was willing to stay because of tradition and because of history and to be just a minuscule part of united is something to cherish..........
Well that was all the united players who died at Munich.......i am so sorry that i cannot do these people justice,but i was a lucky one who saw them and don't have to rely on someone like myself who cannot do them justice........i will, if you wish write about the rest of the team as how i saw them....
a lot has been said (not by me) of the players who perished at munich.............i will talk of the players who survived and played(or didn't)utd at the end of season roundup ....................but what i would like ,if you will bear with me...is the people who didn't get the recognition they deserved,which was the people who had to pick up the pieces while sir matt was on his hospital bed,because as a football team we still had to continue,the one person who stepped forward was none other than jimmy murphy ,he was the unsung god in uniteds history,at the time he was WALES manager and if memeory serves me ...Murphy, Matt Busby's assistant and also the Wales national team manager, had stayed behind to guide his country successfully through a World Cup playoff match against Israel in Cardiff. he usually sat next to Matt on the plane and had the next room to his at the hotel whenever the team went away and he had suggested that he went to Belgrade but because of the seriousness of the wales game...sir matt made him stay at home and look after wales........he was the only one who could make crowther sign for united just 2 hours before kick off against sheffield in the cup(fa dispensation) .........the man was a magician ,i know it was hard for every club who played against us because of the wave of hysteria that followed us but what this man went through only he can say...............all i can say is through this man united are what they are.............i will if wished, go into jimmy murphy's time with utd and his time in charge............the man was united through and through...........to be continued
jimmy Murphy went through hell during Munich........here is part of a newspaper cutting that i found in my old scrapbook,on reading this little piece you might be able to understand what this man went through,.........'People wanted to help but they could not give me the help I wanted. I didn't need people to open letters and help in ways like that. I needed players. Liverpool and Nottingham Forest offered to do what they could, but I was left trying to sort out what I had, what was needed and what I could get. And the relatives kept coming to the ground, naturally, anxious for the latest news.
'Then the coffins started to arrive at the ground. We put them in the old gymnasium, which was where the players' lounge is now. And there were all the funerals. And all the time I was wondering where I could get players. The League game against Wolves had been postponed, but things had to be done quickly. No one knows what I went through during that time.
'I managed to sign Ernie Taylor from Blackpool and he did a magnificent job for us with his skill and experience. He had been offered a job by Sunderland, but Paddy McGrath, our friend from the Cromford Club [a local nightspot], brought Ernie over to see me and I managed to persuade him to join us over a glass of beer. It was important to get the players away from Old Trafford, away from the atmosphere of death, away from Manchester and all the emotion. We virtually lived at the Norbreck Hydro in Blackpool.'...........i remember seeing a picture..i cannot for the life of me in what paper,of a sullen bunch of united players walking along the front at Blackpool and it just...well it just wasn't the united players you were used to they looked so down.it didn't take long from that photo for jimmy to get a smile (as such) on their faces and playing again........it was rumoured at the time that jimmy was thinking of signing non other than the great ferenc puskas but it was only the rules on foreign players in them days that made it virtually impossible...if only........,jimmy brought in youth players ,shay Brennan(who started as a winger) who went on to become one of the most reliable left backs in united's history(not the best but he was a 6 1/2 out of 10 every game)he was comical in a way that he wore his shorts,he used to pull them up that high that he used to hide half his body....ha ha,but thanks that we had him and what a good servant to united he become,another player who came through the ranks was mark Pearson,there was also Ian greaves who later on went on to become manager of Huddersfield(and he did really well).......It needed someone who, though feeling the heartbreak of the situation, could still keep his head and keep the job going. Jimmy was that man...........a man i am eternally grateful too.....
one person who survived Munich who never played was the great Jackie blanchflower (did i in my early years think all united players were great or was i biased,i think not looking back now,i am now a lot older and memory plays funny tricks but believe me,i do try not to go over the top the united side in those days WERE THAT GOOD)Jackie played for utd from 1951, he had a nickname of 'twiggy' by his teammates, he was renowned for his versatility. Initially, he played many games as a forward, but Matt Busby recognised his intelligent positioning sense and aerial power and chose to play him at centre-half. He scored 27 goals during his time at the club.Munich was a sad farewell to Jackie he was severely injured, suffering from a fractured pelvis and arms and legs, and crushed kidneys, and his right arm was nearly severed. He was in hospital for two months and was read the last rites in the early days, but survived.He tried to return to football, but never made a full recovery. Doctors advised him not to return to football due to fears he would damage his kidney and, a year later, Blanchflower retired from football. The Munich air disaster had ended his short career at the age of just 24, having earned 12 caps for Northern Ireland.
He was the younger brother of Dennis 'Danny' Blanchflower, the captain of the Tottenham Hotspur side that dominated English football in the early 1960s.
although his brother went on to win awards and recognition Jackie was the better player,after his career was finished Jackie went on to other things but never really came to terms with being finished at 24..........i actually saw Jackie at united on a couple of occasions but his eyes never had the sparkle that was in them when he ran on the pitch and stood and looked around at the crowd...he knew he belonged....there is one statement he made which i would like to print.........." while some people may think about it each February, I have had to live with it every day since.".........and live with it he did........he was another youngster who we never saw the full potential of.........but i was lucky to see some of it........once seen never forgotten
Well the first hurdle was over,we had played our first match since the disaster,as i described it was an eerie match to be at.i have wrote in some detail about the players that didn't survive and i haven't forgotten those that did ,i will mention them and their achievements later(if you don't mind).the season carried on with fans and players flat and really wanting the season over,and though the team did really well considering i think the were glad when the season ended.
when you think of the diversity that united went through i think nothing but praise can be heaped on the players that carried on in such difficult circumstances,and after seeing the effort that they put in the rest of that season you just couldn't heap enough praise on them.
after Sheff wed we went on to beat both west brom and fulham to reach the cup final(both after replays)(if you will bear with me i am not going to go into matches that i went to,i just want to get this season over with)(but i did manage to get to one particular game and that was the fulham semi final replay,and what a match....united ran out 5-3 winners, Dawson who had taken over Tommy Taylor's mantle of centre forward scored a cracking hat trick(Tommy would have been proud of one of his headers)shay(Brennan) and bobby(Charlton)rounded of the scoring, that was my very first game I'd seen at highbury, it was a Wednesday night(don't ask, but it took a lot of persuading by unc (my hound dog eyes helped)to get my dad to let me go,again i slept all the way home on the train,(well nearly,we went through a long tunnel and unc's mate opened the carriage window and all the smoke nearly choked me,god how they laughed(b*st*rds)(electric trains..........no way they'll never take off) so now all we had to deal with was Bolton at wembley(sadly i didn't g,since the disaster, league wise our season went downhill(only to be expected)out of the remaining 14 games we lost 8 and drew 5 the only team we beat was sunderland and that was away.the only other hurdle left was A.C MILAN in the semi final of the European cup,the fist leg was 5 days after our cup final defeat to Bolton,something a lot of united fans wouldn't imagine but cup final day bolton were the bad boys and everybody in the country wanted united to win(no this is not a folk story it's true)sadly as everyone knows it wasn't to be,next a.c and the atmosphere was something else,we were straight out of the traps and right at there jugular what a night ,how we only beat them 2-1 i will never know,mind you it was strange playing on a Thursday night(not many of them,and no sky TV)anyway we had to play a.c at there place the following Wednesday,sadly it was not to be as we were well beaten 4-0.so that was the season over and done there had been a few highs and one almighty low......looking back now i just don't know whether on reflection i am glad to have seen what I'd seen and been through the experiences or whether i would have liked to have been born after....................the only light is that at least i didn't follow my dad and support that shit from Maine rd(as was)...........
Raymond"ray"Wood 178 utd appearances 3England caps
Wood was among the survivors of the Munich air disaster on 6 February 1958, suffering minor injuries, but played just one first-team game afterwards that was a 4-0 defeat at Wolverhampton in October of the 58/59 season and was later sold to Huddersfield Town one year later,i think wood knew what was coming December of 57 when united payed a world record fee for a goalkeeper £23,500 for harry Gregg from doncaster rovers,Woody wasn't a very big keeper in height but he had shoulders that a few forwards had bounced off,he was by far from the best keeper I've seen at old trafford but he was very far from the worst,he was reliable and strong but was prone to the odd mistake,and it was an odd one.he played 208 times for united after making his debut for united in 1949,and the biggest amount of games he came out with credit,personally i don't think he was the same after Munich,he didn't seem as positive or as assured as he was before it,he was also unlucky in that he had his jaw broke in the 1957 cup final when mcparland barged in to him.he seemed a lot happier after leaving utd and played over 200 games for the terriers,although in the 60's when Gregg got injured sir Matt tried to re-sign woody but was unsuccessful,there was many teams ray could have got into and it was a pleasure to have seen him...........he was a piece in a perfect jigsaw...
Together with Tommy Taylor he formed a lethal combination. In 1959/60 he really did demonstrate his quality, firing in 32 goals in 36 League matches, more strikes in one season campaign than any United player before or up to the present day , His record still stands and is unlikely to be beaten, outscoring such greats as Jack Rowley, Stan Pearson ,Tommy Taylor, Bobby Charlton, Denis Law and George Best, such is the scale of his great United achievement One of the most prolific goalscorers in Old Trafford history Dennis Viollet was a goal scoring machine.he was in my opinion(possibly only me)a better goalscorer than Denis law (please don't shoot me) Viollet was slim(on the George best stature), but god was he quick and his ball control was something you would drool about and he which could slice through the best defences like a knife through butter.His appearance was deceptive and any defence that underestimated him soon paid the consequences.
He had the distribution and all round ability to succeed coming from deep-lying positions which he did at times for United and, later in his career with Stoke City,his one and only fault was that he had an head like a 50 pence piece every (well not every!!)time he headed a ball(if his eyes weren't shut)it could go
anywhere but where it should be,but upon saying that i did see him score a peach of a goal with his head............but whether he meant it I'll never know.....,
i could never understand why sir Matt in 1962 let Viollet go to Stoke City for £25,000 after scoring 179 goals in 293 appearances for United.........but then again am i sir Matt.....am i sir Alex ...no ...and at the time i couldn't understand becks going..............but did it ruin united...where we worse off....no united are still going and players come and go some you remember more than most...............and some your just glad to have seen and appreciated..........thanks Dennis you were one..............
Johnny was a natural right winger,he was fast and direct ,although not the best goalscorer at united he did get some important ones(45 goals in 276 games)but because he was an unselfish player and one that could spot a team mate in a better position the rest benefited,he was only small if memory serves me well he was 5ft 6inches but he was only 10 stone wet through(hope that's not too complicated not being in metric....ha ha),he'd been in the united side regularly for 6 seasons but was just starting to lose his place to ken Morgans,johnny had started of at Birmingham and when they played united he ripped united to pieces sir Matt was so impressed that he stated "no matter how long or how much he was going to get berry"and it did take him awhile but eventually sir Matt got his man,and what a buy he turned out to be(i would say off the modern era kanchelskis was the nearest to berry),he was a cracking player and a crowd favourite,i remember getting his autograph outside the players entrance and he looked up and pointed and said"there's the lad whose autograph you really want not mine it will be worth something one day"and when i looked he was pointing at non other than Bobby Charlton.i still made him sign cos i wanted his.
Injuries sustained in the Munich air disaster brought his footballing career to an end, at age 31.when Berry came round after the crash he had amnesia and didn't remember anything about it,in fact it took a month for him to find out about it and that was due to reading a newspaper,berry sent 2 months in hospital through his injuries, he had a broken jaw,broken elbow,broken pelvis and a broken leg,he also had to have all his teeth removed while they worked on his jaw,they only get a cut nowadays and they're off for 2 games.....johnny berry died in 1994......he was the first surviving player of the Munich air disaster to die...........i remember berry, so till i die he wont........thanks for the memories.........
It's going to be really hard to do this one.in all truthfulness scanlon,sorry.....Albert was the Nanni of the fifties,his skill was there,his crossing was second to none,but boy could he be frustrating,he could be a world beater one minute and a right pain in the arse another,he had such a confidence thing yet the likes of Charlton, and especially Tommy.T. used to think the the world of him,you always knew what kind of match he was going to have by the little dip of his shoulder and slipping inside .......if it didn't work ,we were down to ten men(no substitutions in them days)but when it did come off...brill we had 12 men.Albert was 22 when the crash happened he suffered head injuries and a broken leg, so to come back and have his best season ever the season after was unbelievable,he scored 16 goals that season and i suppose on reflection it was that his confidence was on its highest,but strangely upon watching him personally i thought that he had more in him and that the crash unlike a lot of others had taken a lot out of him and this is was his last attempt at trying to get the demons out of his head..............I'd seen it in others but as time went on the furrowing of the brows got bigger,but with Albert...only he knew...but to me the freedom of his play had gone which was such a shame,he could have gone on to better things,Scanlon started on the left wing in United's European Cup quarter-final second leg away to Red Star Belgrade; for five of the players who started the game, it was to be their last ever match for the club.
Albert was later sold to Newcastle when sir Matt moved bobby Charlton out more to the left hand side in 60-61,and i think it was with regret that Sir Matt let Albert go.
Scanlon’s connection with United has remained strong though and when United won the title in 2007, he presented our players with the trophy, alongside Bill Foulkes................i remember Albert with fond memories,he was one you could never dislike even when he frustrated,boyish in face at the start of a game
and oldish in lines if he'd had a bad game ......the game before belgrade was the best I'd ever seen Albert play we beat Arsenal 5-4 had he had been majestic,as Tommy T once said"my job is made easy especially when you don't have to jump or move to score,and with what i get supplied with i rarely have to"...............I've gone on long enough ......but Albert was one if only.....he believed,he'd have been something else...........if he only knew cos we believed in him.......!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
During the 57/58 season ken managed to force his way into the first team,he was the youngest player on that fateful day,he was also the last to be found,it was two German reporters who went back while the plane was blazing and found ken under one of the wheels,he was taken to hospital and didn't come round till the Sunday(3 days later),ken was only 18 and although the injuries were minor(compared to others)(he had lost ten pints of blood)the injuries to his mind was major,ken was a really up and coming footballer that sir Matt had great faith in once saying Dunc,ken,bobby and co was the core of the united team and the future of British football.Kenny only played 23 games for united and never scored,he was a tricky winger and fast,sir Matt had a thing for fast tricky wingers and Kenny was no exception,i remember his first game against Leicester in 57,3 or 4 days before Christmas ,the reason i remember it was that at first nothing seemed to go right for him,united had a corner and i saw big Dunc go and have a word in his ear,instead of swinging the ball into the box(as every corner was in them days)Kenny played the ball to Dunc on the edge of the box as the defence went for Dunc he rolled it back to Kenny who put a peach of a cross over and viollet got on the end and the ball was nestling in the onion bag.everybody ran across to Kenny(not normally done)to thank him,god did he blush but after that he was a different player..........just one of my little memories......one player we definitely didn't see the best of.........because the potential was there ........you don't have too believe me..........Sir Matt said so...............
Well that was that I've mentioned all bar harry Gregg ,bill Foulkes and bobby Charlton who i will be talking of in greater detail later(if i live that long)really i will just say a few lines about all three,
Harry Gregg (goalkeeper) was 24. He had joined them 2 months before the crash, the team took to harry straight away he was a blunt talking no nonsense kind of person. He survived, and was cited for bravery for going back into the burning wreckage to rescue passengers,and as you know became a united player the fans loved.
Bill Foulke's he was 26 at the time of the disaster and one of the clubs most reliable players,could play anywhere in defence,ended up as one of our best centre half's.you'll hear more of bill from my days with him.
Bobby Charlton (forward) age 20. Just breaking into the team at the time of the crash, he scored twice in Belgrade the night before. Went on to become one of the game's greatest players and remains one of its most respected ambassadors. Lost all his hair shortly after the crash(well not all he used to have half a dozen strands about 2 foot long that comb over the top to make it look a lot)but cut his head open and like rock he would have Manchester united wrote all the way through......again I'll be going into bobby's time at united at a later date............as i will another man,a man who without his hindsight united would have been just another team i obviously refer to the great man.........
Sir Matt Busby
I know most of you will know the history of sir Matt(possibly better than me)i just went of what i was told plus eventually what i saw and remembered,as you most probably know sir Matt was wanted by Liverpool a team he had played for during his playing career but they wouldn't give him the authority for team affairs that he wished,united on the other hand would so therefore we got our man that was in 1945,they should have known then what a wily old fox he was because united offered him a three year contract but he walked out with a five year one,plus he picked the team(not always done by the manager in them days,they used to have board meetings on the eve of a game and directors would have a say)said who was to be bought and who was to be sold,his first and possibly best signing was jimmy Murphy as assistant manager, The two men immediately started to lay down their blueprint on the side, leading them to the runners-up spot in the league, behind Busby's former team Liverpool. Manchester United were runners-up in the league in 1947, 1948, 1949 and 1951, and won the FA Cup in 1948, before winning the league championship in 1952.the side then was starting to get one or two old ones in it but what people didn't realise at the time that sir Matt and Jimmy had been beavering away at the youth policy(which was nil)and they then decided to start too blood some of these players with players as young as 16 and 17. These included right-back Bill Foulkes, centre-halves Mark Jones and Jackie Blanchflower, wingers Albert Scanlon and David Pegg and forward Liam Whelan. Among them was Duncan Edwards, judged by many to be England's finest player of his era(I'm sure they didn't know what they were talking about some of them(HE WAS THE FINEST IN THE WORLD) well to me he was) and capped by England at 18 – setting a record for the youngest-ever full international that remained unbroken for more than 40 years.During this period, the team picked up the affectionate nickname the Busby Babes, because of the youthfulness of many of the players he fielded. They won the league in both 1956 and 1957, and were runners-up to Aston Villa in the 1957 FA Cup Final.
Sir Matt and his team began the 1957-58 season full of ambition for an assault on the Football League title, FA Cup and European Cup.Then came that fateful day in our history,one day we remember every year,it's just a pity that it came about and that we have too.
Sir Matt was in hospital for 9 weeks after the Munich air disaster and was given the last rites twice,as he lay in his bed when conscious kept asking about his boys,but because of the state of his health they wouldn't tell him the true extent of what had really happened,it was only after (if memory serves me well)6 weeks that he started to learn about the deaths and injuries.As i said Sir Matt came out of hospital after 9 weeks,the rumour going round old trafford was that he wasn't going to come back,that the deaths had taken too much out off him because it was with his insistence that united actually went into the European cup,the f.a.wouldn't sanction it and it was only the obstinence of Sir Matt that made it possible.It was his wife who made him carry on as she said"he owed it in duty to the one's who died"(behind every great manager there's a great wife....eh Alex)I'll never forget jimmy Murphy leading united out at wembley that year(on the telly)and watching Sir Matt going round the track on crutches....the whole of wembley stood as one and applauded.....it was so moving..............we owe this man so much........he made the tradition of the way we play the game.......and the name Manchester united has worldwide is through his hindsight and his football brain ...and for that i thank you deeply
This is going to be my last words on the Munich air disaster,but first i know i have not mentioned all the players who played for united that season,i have tried to concentrate on the ones who had either perished or survived that awful tragedy,there were a few players who helped in the aftermath of Munich and as i carry on i will try to mention each and every one,because without them we could not have carried on.i have tried to write about the players and manager to the best of my ability( i know ,i know...what ability).i was scared when i started to write these diaries because i had never spoken about them before and it was with great trepidation that i agreed to do this,i would just like to thank united road for allowing me to vent my feeling and thoughts,it's on that note that i would just like to put this thought into your heads,can you imagine what it was like to be going to old Trafford as a kid watching players that some were not a lot older than yourself,who you imagined you were when kicking the front of your shoes(if you could afford 'em...lol)as you kicked a tin can down the streets,then try to feel the pain and the shock and also the complete helplessness of not being able to do anything when hearing about the smash,it was .......words just cannot put into place what it was like,this became the defining moment in the history of Manchester united,it was the biggest tragedy of English,no.........any football club.we were going to be the English version of real Madrid we were going to rule europe.the feeling and the passion swept to everybody,people who weren't football supporters wept openly in the street,mothers clasped there young sons to there pinny's and cried the feeling was everywhere you went,there wasn't a street corner that for days was not empty of people waiting for news,people used to rush to anybody who had a t.v or to the corner shop for the paper stand news for the headlines to change.i remember schools actually closing because of it,memorial services were held all over the world,the best...no the greatest English side had been wiped out,but where credit must be due,besides the club, players,managers and lets not forget the sterling work that the German doctors did for the ones that survived was to the fans,who must in them days count themselves as the greatest ever,they came back from diversity and every game after they were like an extra player and its for them that i would like to give a big thank you,because without those fans certain players i don't think would have gone on the pitch with the desire that they did..........but like the phoenix we rose from the ashes and we are now reaping the rewards to-day.........this is my last piece of writing as such on the Munich air disaster.........i would like to thank you for staying with me through it................and hope it has not been to boring and you might have learnt something even a little bit that you did'nt know about united and if thats the case it hasn't been a waste.......................thanks once again.
I'll see you again my Red Devil friends
I'll hear you around my door
Touching my life like so many memories before
I was a child and so easily led
You were the leaders of men
Now I doubt in my life if this ever happens again
Oh, how I cried when my mama said
Busby's Babes, son, they're dead
Oh how I remember that miserable day
When something was taken from me
Out on a snow covered runway in West Germany
Oh, how I cried when my mama said
Busby's Babes, son, they're dead
(Iain Matthews, from the album "Pure & Crooked")
sorry i just had to have another word ............................but this sums it up better than i ever could..........