Manchester United commemorates Munich air disaster

Fans and club staff will gather around the Munich memorial clock at Old Trafford to pay tribute to the 23 people who lost their lives on this day 56 years ago.
Manchester United will pay tribute on Thursday to the 23 people who died in the Munich air disaster on Feb. 6, 1958.

Eight United players and three members of the club's staff were among the dead when the plane carrying Matt Busby's side back from a European Cup match in Belgrade failed to take off.

The plane had stopped off in Munich to refuel, and after two attempts to launch were aborted, the plane crashed on its third bid for flight.

Twenty-one people on board were killed instantly, the captain of the flight Kenneth Rayment died three weeks later and Duncan Edwards, one of English football's brightest stars, died in the hospital 15 days after the crash.

Goalkeeper Harry Gregg survived the crash and escaped the wreckage, but returned to the scene to drag survivors to safety.

Two players, Johnny Berry and Jackie Blanchflower, never played football again following the crash.

Roger Byrne, Eddie Colman, Mark Jones, David Pegg, Tommy Taylor, Geoff Bent, Liam Whelan and Duncan Edwards all died, along with club secretary Walter Crickmer and coaches Bert Whalley and Tom Curry.

Eight journalists were among the dead. Alf Clarke, Tom Jackson, Don Davies, George Fellows, Archie Ledbrook, Eric Thompson, Henry Rose, and Frank Swift, a former Manchester City player. Busby's friend Willie Satinoff, travel agent Bela Miklos and crew member Tom Cable also died.

Manchester United went on to reach the 1958 FA Cup final, but lost 2-0 to Bolton Wanderers.

Busby remained in the hospital for more than two months before returning to Manchester United. He resumed managerial duties in the 1958-59 season, and would go on to rebuild the squad and lead the club to the European Cup in 1968.

Bobby Charlton and Bill Foulkes both survived the tragedy and played at Wembley as United beat Benfica 4-1 after extra time, with Charlton captaining the side and scoring twice.

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