Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Munich air disaster - 50th anniversary: United make a hash of preparations.

Manchester United supporters have been angered by the club's insensitivity at the unveiling of a huge image of the Busby Babes which adorns virtually the whole of Old Trafford East stand facade. The image has been erected as this year marks the 50th anniversary of the Munich air disaster in which eight of the Busby Babes lost their lives.

In an age where sponsors logos appear just about everywhere, the club took the somewhat controversial decision to include their main sponsors logo alongside the famed photo of the Busby Babes team line-up which was taken before a European Cup tie in Belgrade in February 1958 just prior to the air crash.

I'm not giving the sponsor yet more publicity by naming them here, but the irony is that in protesting about the point they have received a lot more publicity than perhaps they might have done otherwise, though it is publicity of the sort than any half decent organisation would not want, given the gross insensitivity of this error of judgement. United have effectively put a sponsors name on a memorial. It's a bit like including a sponsors logo on a grave stone. You simply would not do it.

As if including the sponsors name wasn't bad enough, the club also managed to get the words wrong in the famous Manchester United Calypso song which has been sung by the fans throughout the last five decades in memory of the Babes. To their credit the club have agreed to amend the wording which should read "...bunch of bouncing Busby Babes".

However, the club have stated that they see nothing wrong with including the sponsors name in this memorial tribute, this speaks volumes about the people who run Manchester United.

The lousy local rag that is the Manchester Evening News is also cashing in on the anniversary by producing a special supplement, you do wonder where the profits of this venture will end up, no doubting in the coffers of the paper's owners.

Meanwhile, the official Manchester City supporters club have sent a letter to United asking if prior to the badly timed derby at Old Trafford rather than have a minute's silence, fans should applaud the disaster. You do not applaud disasters, it is as simple as that and City fans will, for once, have to behave themselves. United should not be dictated to by numpties who have no sense of respect, decency or history. It is so bad that Man City fans have had to be reminded by their own club by letter than one of their own Frank Swift perished in the crash.

In repsonse to the request a spokesman for United said "It's a solemn event."
He added: "We don't think applause is the best way to commemorate the death of 23 people."

Manchester City supporters have a long history of letting their club and Manchester down when the two sides meet by mocking the 1958 disaster. Let us hope that for once sense prevails on February 10th when the two sides clash.


  1. The truth is out there.26 January 2008 at 18:08:00 GMT

    As an aviation historian and football fan I have spent the last two-years researching Munich for difinitive account of the events before during and in the aftermath of the tragedy. The resulting book - 'The Munich Air Disaster' was published in October to lead up to the anniversary,but for some reason unknown to me or the publisher, the book is being buried by darker forces beyond our control.
    Over the past half-century the tragedy has been well documented and no doubt will be again in the years to come. But all that has been written over these years has perpetuated myths, half-truths, exaggeration and distortion of the facts surrounding the tragedy.
    Working for sixteen hours a day, seven days a week for two-years I sincerely hope I have arrived at the truth. Belive me, there is no money to made researching and writing a book on Munich, I would be happy just to get my expenses back. My remit from the publishers was to get at the truth surrounding the Munich saga. This I hope has been achieved with the imput of all those involved, including survivors, relatives and even past and present employees of Manchester United - many of whom wished not to be identified. Harry Gregg, who has always been the guardian of the Babes memory over the years, read the manuscript prior to publication was very positive in his assessment. He says: 'We owe it to the memory of those left behind on that runway to tell it as it was.'
    Whenever the subject of Munich crops up very little is said about the aircrew. This issue is, for the first time addressed in great detail thanks to help of Captain Thain's daughter, who gave me access to the Thain family archive. Captain Thain was disgracefully treated by the German aviation authorities who set him up from day one to shoulder the blame for the accident - a conspiracy they maintained for over a decade. Perhaps it was my investigations into this aspect of the crash - in naming names - that has initiated those darker forces to bury the book. Or is it that I have a go at the club for the way they treated some of the survivors and the families of the bereaved in the aftermath? If you e-mail the United Mega Store to ask if they are selling the book, they will reply with: 'WE WILL NOT BE STOCKING THIS ITEM!' The same is true of the well known high street book retailers - apart from a handful in the Manchester area due to pressure from the Machester people - they it seems have been warned not to touch the publication.
    But I have had my allies - the Manchester Evening News thankfully let me contribute to their Munich supplement, and also the Sunday Times - see their colour magazine supplement on Sunday 3 February, also if you get the time Google: THE MUNICH AIR DISASTER STEVE MORRIN.
    This little rant from me may seem an excuse to flog books - that is true in that I want this story out there - that was the sole purpose of my two-years of effort. But if I sold 50,000 copies tomorrow it would not clear my expenses.
    So don't let those who want to keep this book buried win. You don't even have to buy it - reserve it from your library.
    Finally, if you think that after the anniversary this story will die down, then prepare yourself for a shock. Just keep your eye on the news in the months to come and all will be revealed.

    Regards to all football fans everywhere. - Steve Morrin (Aviation historian and author).

  2. Until I read your comments Steve I was unaware of your book, no doubt you won't be surprised about that.
    I for one would like to read your book.


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