The Lost Babes: Manchester United and the Forgotten Victims of Munich (1st Edition)
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A moving story of how a legendary football team was lost to tragedy – and how this disaster irrevocably altered the lives of the survivors and the bereaved families, and ultimately brought shame on the biggest football club in the world.
The Manchester United team Matt Busby had built in the fifties from the club's successful youth policy seemed destined to dominate football for many years. Such was the power of the 'Busby Babes' that they seemed invincible. The average age of the side which won the Championship in 1955-56 was just 22, the youngest ever to achieve such a feat. A year later, when they were Champions again, nothing, it seemed, would prevent this gifted young team from reigning for the next decade. But then came 6 February 1958, the day that eight Manchester United players died on a German airfield in the 'Munich Air Disaster' – a date to be forever etched in the annals of sporting tragedy. Duncan Edwards, Eddie Colman, Tommy Taylor, Roger Byrne... the names were already enshrined in legend before the air crash, but Munich in many ways earned them immortality. They have never grown old. Jeff Connor traces the rise of the greatest Manchester United side of all time, alongside a vibrant portrait of England in the 1950s, but he also paints a dark picture of a club that enriched itself on the myth of Munich while neglecting the families of the dead and the surviving players. The repercussions and the toll the disaster took on so many linger to the present day. Drawing on extensive interviews with the Munich victims and players of that era, The Lost Babes is the definitive account of British football's golden age, a poignant story of the protracted effects of loss and a remorseless dissection of the how the richest football club in the world turned its back on its own players and their families.
two goals from Charlton and one from Viollet put United 5-1 ahead on aggregate, the lead dissolved after half-time. Kostic gave Red Star a dream start to the second half with a goal two minutes in, Bill Foulkes conceded a penalty and then Kostic brought the overall score back to 5-4 directly from a freekick. This had been given away by the European debutant Harry Gregg when the Irish goalkeeper carried the ball out of the penalty area. From then on it was down to Byrne, Jones and his unsung and
guest at the Player of the Year awards dinner in London and when I came back my wife said Ray Wood had phoned. I rang him back and he said: “Have you had this beautiful letter?” And it was a magnificent letter from UEFA, basically saying that “we believe you are people who made the European Cup what it is and we would be very honoured if you would be our guests, the eight survivors, at the final of 1997”. They added that they had been in touch with Manchester United and they have agreed. ‘But
obvious concern of the Munich dependants, and the survivors headed by Harry Gregg, was that the testimonial would become simply a tribute to Eric Cantona, but Doherty offers his justification: ‘There was talk about Real Madrid and Bayern Munich coming and there was a problem there because they were in the Champions’ League and so were United,’ says Doherty. ‘I told some people to be realistic because they wouldn’t come over free of charge, either. We had to get bums on seats. We talked about who
Munich 219, 266-267 European Cup 1956-1957 81, 83 European Cup 1957-1958 90 European Cup Final 1997 225-227 friendship with Gregg 265 goal-scoring record 270 last domestic game with Babes 87-88, 124-125 league championship 1956-1957 80 married status 56 meeting Helen 263-264 memorabilia 196, 267 memorial service 267 Munich air disaster 93, 108, 110, 197, 271 Munich testimonial fund 267 partnership with Taylor 148 smoker 250 sold by Manchester United 185, 261-262 sports reporters
sprightly, kindly, former Old Trafford goalkeeper called Joe Armstrong, to scour Britain for talent. Armstrong became a regular fixture at schoolboy and junior games in the north of England in the late Forties and early Fifties while a small team of alter egos—all seemingly similarly small, avuncular and with faces hidden under wide-brimmed hats—performed similar functions in other parts of the country. Most of that talent, as it happened, was waiting on their doorstep and even in the