Manchester United Disaster – A Sad Day to Remember

It was just after 2pm on Wednesday 6th February, 1958, when news start to filter through the school, on a cold Newcastle day, that the plane carrying the successful Manchester United side with Matt Busby, Bobby Charlton and the great Duncan Edwards and other players and journalists on board, may have crashed.


Remembrance Plaque at Old Trafford for the Munich air disaster


On the way home from Heaton Technical School back to Evistones Gardens – just off Walker road, was a young 13 year old Newcastle supporter, who seemed devastated that the news could be true. Not Manchester United – not all the great players that had only recently played at St. James Park.

In that game the previous year Newcastle had taken a 2-0 lead against Manchester United, and it looked like the Magpies, in front of a packed St. James’ Park, would inflict a rare defeat on the Busby Babes. But it was well known that Manchester United were always lucky and kept scoring late goals to win games.

Then with just 25 minutes to go a 20 year old Duncan Edwards got the ball in his own half, powered his way through the midfield and hit a wonderful shot into the Gallowgate end goal giving goalkeeper Ronnie Simpson no chance. 2-1 but we could still win but would you believe it that Duncan Edwards scored again with just minutes remaining, to give Manchester a very undeserved 2-2 draw.

Newcastle should have won that game but the young 13 year old had to grudgingly admit to his Dad, on their way home, that young Duncan Edwards looked like an unstoppable tank in Manchester’s midfield – what a player!

When he arrived home that February day, he went down Walker Road to get the Evening Chronicle and splashed across the front page were huge headlines with the news that the plane carrying the Manchester United side, who had just reached the semi finals of the European Cup, with a win over Red Star Belgrade, had crashed and there were victims. Did that mean some were dead?

Yes – there was a list of some of the dead in the Chronicle and they included Geoff Bent, Roger Byrne, Eddie Colman, Mark Jones, David Pegg, Tommy Taylor and Liam ‘Billy’ Whelan. How could this be?

And the youngster couldn’t help but cry openly as he walked the 80 yards back home. But boys don’t cry – as his mother had constantly told him, so he held it all in – well as best as he could.

Then the full tragedy became known and although Duncan Edwards wasn’t an early casualty, he died 15 days later after he had punctured his lung, but Matt Busby, who was also badly injured, survived as did the 20 year old Ashington youngster Bobby Charlton. We had also heard that Bobby had an older brother who played for Leeds United who we think was called Jack, but he wasn’t very good.

This youngster never really got over that tragedy, and he still thinks back today to Duncan Edwards, who was the greatest player he saw play – ever. And it’s still hard thinking back to it today, when his thoughts go back to that very bleak and very sad day in England’s football history. And the tears are still there, all covered up, wanting to come out.

That boy was me – and I’m still as sad today thinking back to it – as I was then.

17 comments so far

  • Yorkie Dave

    Feb 6, 2008 at 12:59 PM

    Comment #1

    very nice piece ed, it is a very sad day for football to remember.

  • Tom_Toon

    Feb 6, 2008 at 1:06 PM

    Comment #2

    Obviously its a sad day but its pathetic that publicized so much, people die every 10 seconds, think of that. Those people could be equally talented but arent given the chance. Everyone is equal afterall.

  • ObaFan2

    Feb 6, 2008 at 1:17 PM

    Comment #3

    Nice personal story Ed and a real tragedy.

    I do remember the rebuilding of the team and the amazing job Sir Matt Buzby did.

    Tom…….. !

  • Graeme

    Feb 6, 2008 at 1:23 PM

    Comment #4

    A sad day for football in general and Man Utd in particular. A lot of unrelated people will shed a few tears today Ed.

  • Toon Al

    Feb 6, 2008 at 1:32 PM

    Comment #5

    tom toon stop bein a tosser

    it was and has been publicised and rightly so u cant just forget about it

  • Tom_Toon

    Feb 6, 2008 at 1:35 PM

    Comment #6

    Dont see how that can offend you but anyway im off to the gym.

  • Howie

    Feb 6, 2008 at 1:42 PM

    Comment #7

    a very sad day for football and to think edwards would have been 28 at the 1966 world cup. in his prime. nice piece ed.

  • iain

    Feb 6, 2008 at 1:48 PM

    Comment #8

    “Obviously its a sad day but its pathetic that publicized so much, people die every 10 seconds, think of that. Those people could be equally talented but arent given the chance. Everyone is equal afterall.”

    it was tragic but the whole thing has become a bit of a media circus.

    why i need to see bobby charlton close to tears on sky sports news while i eat my breakfast god only knows. plenty of other footballers have died tragically but we dont have a national memorial every year for them do we.

    i dont think tom toon is saying we should forget it, just i think a few people are sick of having it rammed in there faces 24/7 . me included. the reaction of the man utd fans that attacked the memorial sign at old trafford probably did go ott
    but why on earth they needed the sponsors on the sign in the first place god only knows.

    fact is it didnt directly affect anyone apart from those involved their familes and friends and those who follow man utd.

    it gets more attention than the soldiers who are dying every day for this country. will they ever get a minutes silence around every ground ????

    imo the whole thing has lost all perspective.

  • Leo*

    Feb 6, 2008 at 2:10 PM

    Comment #9

    it was a very sad thing that happened, but we should not just remember these people lossed, but many people who have died while playing the sport that they love and we all love

  • Leo*

    Feb 6, 2008 at 2:11 PM

    Comment #10

    iain your absolutly right about the soldiers, they deserve much more than just a standing ovation and silence.

  • Greg B

    Feb 6, 2008 at 2:41 PM

    Comment #11

    I suppose it affects the older fans more than the younger ones. I wasnt around back then and to be quite honest it is not something that bothers me in the slightest, however older lads I work with seem quite moved with the articles and news reports on the subject.
    I am not cold hearted and I am not saying that it wasnt a terrible tragic event but to a 33 year old Newcastle supporter I have to say honestly that it dosent move me to tears.
    I totally agree with Iain, what about these poor soldiers, and their families, that are dying TODAY! Fair enough, lets have a minutes silence for the lads who died in the plane crash 50 years ago but lets also spare a though for our boys in the services.

  • Greg B

    Feb 6, 2008 at 2:42 PM

    Comment #12

    PS – I agree though, nice little article ED.

  • Eric

    Feb 6, 2008 at 3:18 PM

    Comment #13

    Well said Iaian – sums it up fair and square.
    When did Charlton (Bobby) show some loyalty
    to his roots? He is manky u thru and thru.


    Feb 6, 2008 at 4:15 PM

    Comment #14

    Nice article ed!

  • Geordie Joe

    Feb 6, 2008 at 4:18 PM

    Comment #15

    What anoys me is That only the footballers ever get mentioned there was 23 people who died not just the footballers. Of course it was a tragedy but this is brought up far too often.

  • UTD111

    Feb 6, 2008 at 6:22 PM

    Comment #16

    Touching article Ed………I still hate the arrogant B*****ds though……….

  • GP

    Feb 7, 2008 at 5:29 AM

    Comment #17

    Charlton is a pedophile who should have went with the rest of them. Save your crocodile tears people – they wouldn’t have any for us.


You must log in to post a comment.