Although the Manchester United team was christened the
Busby babes around 1956 they were actually born in the youth teams of 1952 and
on. The United youth team won the FA youth cup from the years 1952 through to
In 1952/3 the youth team won the FA youth cup. Over two legs they beat Wolves 9-3 on aggregate. the team was Clayton,Fulton,Kennedy,Coleman,Cope,Edwards,Mcfarlaine,Whelan,Lewis,Pegg and Scanlon.
The following year saw United again successful, again beating Wolves for the trophy. This time 5-4 over the two legs. The team now included Bobby Charlton and Wilf McGuinness.
1954/55 pitted United against West Bromwich Albion, United running out 7-1 winners over the two legs. Seamus Brennan was the new name this year.
!955/56 saw United once again cup winners. This time downing the youth of Chesterfield 4-3 on aggregate.
!956/57 saw United victorious over West Ham United 8-2 on aggregate.
Promotion of the Babes
In1952 United won the league championship for the first time in 40 years. The following season saw an early slump to be bottom of the league with Manchester City. This cause the early promotion of Uniteds's youth team members.
The inclusion of the young players helped United to rise to a respectable 8th position by the season's end.
The following two years United claimed 4th and 5 th position respectively.
1956 once again brought the league championship United's way. The team of 1952 had all been replaced, with the exception of Berry and Byrne, by a team who's average age was only 22. Jones,Edwards,Violet,Coleman,Scanlan, Foulkes,Blanchflower,Whitefoot and Greaves had all been promoted from the youth or reserve sides during the preceeding couple of years.Wood, Taylor , and Whelan,as a youth, had been bought a few years previous. Taylor's fee was a record 29,999pstg.
1957 again United were victorious in the league championship.This year saw a few team changes the main one being the introduction of Bobby Charlton into the team. Charlton went on to play a record 754 appearances for United. Not quite as succesful in the FA cup United lost in unfortuneate cicumstances to Aston Villa. Ray Wood the United goalkeeper sustained a broken cheek bone after a very crude attack by McParland the Villa winger. This one action was widely seen as robbing United of the elusive "double".
The 1957/58 season commenced as one would expect given the wealth of talent now nicknamed the "Busby Babes".Although United had lost seven games by the time they were due to fly out to Belgrade, they were still well on target for their 3rd successive league title.
Babes in Europe
In September 1956 United had become the first English club to play in European competitions. Chelsea had qualified the previous year, but the FA had refused permission. The FA also refused permission for United to compete, but United disobeyed the FA's orders.
Having a good run in Europe United reached the semi final via victories over Anderlecht ,Borussia Dortmund, and Athletico Bilbao, but were beaten by Real Madrid 3-5 on aggregate.
The European campaign of 1957/58 saw United dispose of Shamrock Rovers and
Duckla Prague. The quarter final brought Red Star Belgrade to Old Trafford for
the first leg. In front of 60,000 fans the Busby Babes won 2-1.
The return leg in Belgrade gave United a hard fought 3-3 draw. United victorious with a 5-4 aggregate.
On that dark fateful afternoon of February 6th 1958 the return trip to
Manchester required a refueling stop at Munich Germany. The weather was bad for
the take off. Three attempts were required to get the BEA Elizabethan aircraft
in the air.
At the third attempt G-ALZU-609 ploughed into some buildings at the end of the runway and burst into flames.
In the mangled burning wreckage twenty three of the forty three passengers perished. Matt Busby and Duncan Edwards were pulled alive from the inferno. Busby was critical and at one stage had the last rites administered. Only his imense strength and courage coupled with the skill and dedication of the German doctors pulled Busby through.
Duncan Edwards hovered between life and death for 16 days before finally giving way to his maker. Matt busby was not told of the death of his beloved Babes until he was safely away from death's door.
United had lost the cream of Englands soccer talent in one foul swoop.Roger Byrne,Geoff Bent,Eddie Coleman,Mark Jones,Duncan Edwards,David Pegg,Tommy Taylor,and Bill Whelanall great players all perished. The administration was also decimated Walter Crickmer, Tom Curry and Bert Whalley perished. Bert Whalley had taken the place of Jimmy Murphy, who was on interational duty with Wales, on the flight. Eight jounalists, including the famous ex Manchester City goalkeeper Frank Swift, also lost their lives. Two crew members and two passengers perished alongside the Babes.
Of the team that played against Red Star only Gregg and Foulkes were fit
enough to take the field in the next emotion charged game.
United with a team put together at the last minute beat Sheffield Wednesday 3-0 in the FA cup. In the program for that game the United chairman Mr Hardman placed the following message
United went on to face Bolton Wanderers in the cup final. Unfortuneately
United lost again after Nat Lofthouse had bundled Harry Gregg over the goal
In the league competition United won only one of their last 14 games, drawing five. The mortaly wounded team finished 9th in the league.
The next round of the European cup drew United to face Inter Milan. United, spirit high but strength sapped, lost over the two legs 5-2 on aggregate.
Of the squad of players know as the Busby Babes three won a European Cup
winners medal at Wembley in 1968 ten years later.
Charlton,Brennan and Foulkes were the three. If the disaster of Munich had not occured how many other Babes would have gathered medals for United in the following ten years? How many more silver cups would adorn the trophy cabinet at Old Trafford? Who can say, but in our hearts we all know it would have been many.