Chinadaily / 60 years on, former ‘Busby Babe’ relives tragedy of Munich air crash
General view of a Sir Matt Busby statue and fans outside the stadium before the match between Manchester United and Burnley in Old Trafford, Manchester, Britain, Dec 26, 2017. [Photo/Agencies] MANCHESTER, England – Not a day goes by that Wilf McGuinness doesn’t think of the friends and teammates he lost when the Munich air crash ripped the heart out of Manchester United’s “Busby Babes”.
The disaster, 60 years ago this week, killed eight of the young, vibrant side who had won successive league titles and left manager Matt Busby fighting for his life.
The events of Feb 6, 1958, are woven into the fabric of the club, which recovered to become the first English team to lift the European Cup 10 years later on an emotional night at Wembley.
McGuinness, now 80, was not on the plane – which crashed on the third takeoff attempt in terrible weather conditions – because he was injured.
The ill-fated aircraft was bringing the team back via Munich from Belgrade after it had reached the European Cup semifinals. Twenty-three people died in total.
“You think of the ones who went, you don’t think of yourself escaping or not going on the trip,” recalled McGuinness, who was in hospital following a cartilage operation when he heard the terrible news.
“I was thinking how great they were, it will never ever stay out of my mind. It is the number one thing that remains with me.
“They were extra special and so young when they died. Unbelievable.”
For McGuinness, whose own career ended prematurely at 22 when he broke his leg, the two standouts were “cheeky chappie” Eddie Colman and Duncan Edwards, “a giant”, to whom McGuinness played understudy.
“I couldn’t have licked their boots,” said McGuinness modestly at his home in Sale near Manchester.
Colman’s parents did not have a telephone and only learned of the accident through his close friend and Manchester City goalkeeper Steve Fleet as he ran to their corner shop to tell them.
England international Edwards survived the crash but died two weeks later in hospital.
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