Munich: 60 Years After, An Institution That Never Gave Up


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"Don't tell me what can't be done. When Matt Busby brought me here they told me we'd never make a go of it, that it couldn't be done. That Manchester United would never make a success. Told us we couldn't win the league, playing kids. Told us we couldn't match the best teams in Europe. And every bloody time we proved them wrong, so with respect sir, it can be done, it will be done, I'll make sure of it." Jimmy Murphy

The first time I heard the song The Greatest by multiple Grammy award winners  Sia and rapper Kendrick Lamar I felt a connect with the song. Sia’s songs gets you enamoured with her, just as it energizes you to push through whatever life throws at you and achieve your dreams and set goals.

In the song Never Give up she tells of a personal resilience to achieve greatness despite the defeats and disappointments of a distant past. Positivism starts from within; no matter the loss of the past. There future gains to be amassed only if we stay focused and see the loss for what it is, an opportunity to launch even further.

Abraham H. Maslow once said *“Life is an ongoing process of choosing between safety (out of fear and need for defense) and risk (for the sake of progress and growth). Make the growth choice a dozen times a day."*

Yesterday marked the 60th anniversary of the Munich air disaster which  occurred on 6 February 1958 when British European Airways Flight 609 crashed on its third attempt to take off from a slush-covered runway at Munich-Riem Airport, West Germany. On the plane was the Manchester United football team, nicknamed the "Busby Babes", along with supporters and journalists.  20 of the 44 on the aircraft died at the scene. The injured, some unconscious, were taken to the Rechts der Isar Hospital in Munich where three more died, resulting in 23 fatalities with 21 survivors.

The Man United team were returning from a European Cup quarter-final game against Red Star Belgrade in what was then Yugoslavia. United won the tie 5-4 on aggregate after drawing 3-3 in Belgrade thanks to a goal from Dennis Viollet and a Bobby Charlton double, thus booking their place in the semi-final of the competition.

Geoff Bent, Roger Byrne, Eddie Colman, Mark Jones, David Pegg, Tommy Taylor and Liam Whelan all died at the scene. United player Duncan Edwards and co-pilot captain Rayment were retrieved from the wreckage alive but later died in hospital as a result of their injuries.

Despite the disaster, Man United played a match in the FA Cup against Sheffield Wednesday later that month, winning 3-0. The cover of the matchday programme read 'United will go on'.

At that time it was thought that the “Busby babes” as they were then nicknamed were depleted and crushed. It was one of the darkest era I the life of Manchester United for they did lose a generation of one of Europe’s finest footballers.

Image result for images of 60th Anniversary of munich air disasterFast word to 60 years after, and the opening quote by Jimmy Murphy on the Matt Busby Babes becomes quite poignant. Today, the club is one of the greatest clubs of all in the world; with success in the Champions League, the Europa League and the English Premier league. Old Trafford may just be a stadium for where matches are played, but for us, it is the The Theatre of Dreams where the future is assured for many who believe in the power of their dreams, know what they carry within.

At a ceremony to mark the 60th Anniversary in Old traaford yesterday, Michael Edelson, a non-executive director at the club, read from Ecclesiastes 9 and 12: “No man knows when their hour will come: as fish are caught in a cruel net, or birds are taken in a snare.” The club’s former manager Sir Alex Ferguson read from Psalm 103: “The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone.”
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In his words,  the club’s chaplain, the Rev John Boyers said When Munich happened a wave of grief and anguish swept this nation and in Manchester it impacted all. Here grief and anguish hit both United and City supporters alike. It mattered not whether you were red or blue; both sets of supporters stood together, wept together, mourned together. They all knew, together, that a remarkable team was no more.”

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The crowd of over 4, 500 strong supporters sang the Flowers of Manchester, a song written in tribute to those who died in the crash, containing the lines: “Oh, England’s finest football team its record truly great, its proud successes mocked by a cruel turn of fate. Eight men will never play again, who met destruction there, the flowers of English football, the flowers of Manchester.”

Jimmy Murphy never gave up! The support was strong and like the phoenix rising from its ashes, Manchester United became not just a football club but an institution. This is because they never gave up. Despite the darkness of the past, they looked forward towards the brightness of the future. This is what it means to never give up if you must be the greatest.

60 years, we remember them. We are Manchester United, we are great; We'll Never Die!


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