The Rebuilding After Munich Begins

Rebuilding After Munich

As Matt Busby lay in his hospital bed it was left up to his assistant Jimmy Murphy to pick up the pieces, Murphy had missed the trip to Belgrade because of his duties with the Welsh National side. When Murphy had gone to visit Busby in the Munich hospital, Busby had told him:

Keep The Flag Flying, Jimmy

Manchester United had lost seven players in the Munich Air Disaster and Duncan Edwards would later die on the 21st February 1958, Johnny Berry and Jackie Blanchflower were so severely injured that they would never play again. Matt Busby would spend two months in hospital and was twice given the last rites, after being discharged from hospital Busby went to Interlaken in Switzerland to recuperate and it is said at times he felt like giving up on football completely. Survivor Harry Gregg recalled in his autobiography that the players that were left and able to play needed to play he wrote:

It (Playing Football) Saved My Sanity. I Couldn’t Get To The Ground Quick Enough For Training. Those Brief Moments Spent Running, Diving, Kicking, Arguing And Fighting Were My Escape Valve

Manchester United chairman Harold Hardman was in full agreement and just 13 days after the disaster the rescheduled fifth round Fa Cup tie against Sheffield Wednesday at Old Trafford went ahead on the 19th February 1958. A highly charged crowd of 59,848 with thousands more locked out saw United win the game 3-0 with a team made up largely of youth and reserve players. Hardman’s message on the front of United Review simply read:

Although We Mourn Our And Grieve For Our Wounded, We Believe That Great Days Are Not Done For Us… Manchester United Will Rise Again

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Jimmy Murphy followed Busby’s instructions and somehow managed to together a team to face Sheffield Wednesday in the Fa Cup tie, Crash survivors Harry Gregg and Bill Foulkes were in the side alongside new signings Ernie Taylor from Blackpool and Stan Crowther from Aston Villa. Crowther had only signed an hour before kick-off and needed dispensation from the Fa to play in the game as he had appeared in previous rounds for Villa. The rest of the team was made up of juniors and reserves in Ian Greaves, Freddie Goodwin, Ronnie Cope, Colin Webster, Alex Dawson, Stan Pearson and Shay Brennan. Brennan scored twice on what was his debut and would go on to play in the 1968 European Cup final ten years later. United under Murphy completed the 1957/58 season and although their title challenge faltered as they only won one league after the crash, they did managed to reach the Fa Cup though but lost the final 2-0 to Bolton Wanderers. In The European Cup semi-final they gained a 2-1 victory over Inter Milan at Old Trafford before they went down 4-0 in the 2nd leg at the San Siro. Real Madrid won the trophy for the third year in a row, it was suggested that Manchester United should be awarded the trophy for that season in wake of the Munich Air Disaster. Having considered quitting, wrongly blaming his own sense of ambition for the chain of events that ended in tragedy, convinced by wife Jean and son Sandy to carry on, believing that he could once again rebuild Manchester United and aim for the sky again. Busby returned to the Manchester United managers seat for the 1958/59 and began rebuilding the club and the team and built a team that would achieve his bring of European Cup success in 1968. The 1968 European Cup winning team included crash survivors Bobby Charlton and Bill Foulkes. Thank You For Taking Time To Read This Article and Feel Free To Comment

About Andrew Hyslop 398 Articles

Creator of Sir Alex Ferguson Way and writer of football books https://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B01M1RVX27

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