Manchester United fans gathered once again today to remember and pay their respects to those killed in the Munich Air disaster.
It is the first time since 2020 that the traditional annual memorial ceremony has been held under pandemic restrictions, meaning it was not possible to hold the event last year.
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Yet this afternoon, on the 64th anniversary of the plane crash in which 23 people, including eight United players, lost their lives, hundreds of Reds fans gathered below the monument at Old Trafford.
The service, described by the club as “by the fans, for the fans”, was coordinated by the Munich58 supporters group with the club’s former chaplain, the Reverend John Boyers, acting as master of ceremonies.
The names of all those who died were read out, before a two-minute silence at 3:04 p.m., the exact time the plane crashed on February 6, 1958.
The service also included a series of poems and songs, including a performance of The Flowers of Manchester.
Former United defender Wes Brown was among those present and laid a wreath.
While several of the young players from the club’s academy also took part in the service.
Up to 1,000 people are said to have gathered on Old Trafford’s East Stand forecourt with many fans wearing shirts and scarves bearing the names of the players who lost their lives.
Those who were unable to attend in person were also able to view and follow the service online through the club’s website.
The darkest day in United’s history occurred as the club returned from a European Cup tie against Red Star Belgrade in what was then Yugoslavia. The flight carrying the players, club staff and journalists home stopped in Munich, Germany, to refuel.
The plane crashed after a third attempt to take off in poor weather conditions.
Geoff Bent, 25, Roger Byrne, 28, Eddie Colman, 21, Duncan Edwards, 21, Mark Jones, 24, David Pegg, 22, Tommy Taylor, 26, and Liam Whelan, 22, players who were part of Sir Matt Busby’s celebrated side like the Busby Babes, they all perished as a result of their injuries.
Three club employees: secretary Walter Crickmer, manager Tom Curry and manager Bert Whalley. and eight journalists – Alf Clarke, Donny Davies, George Follows, Archie Ledbrooke, Henry Rose, Eric Thompson, Tom Jackson of the Manchester Evening News and former Manchester City goalkeeper Frank Swift, then working for the News of the World – also died. .
Captain Ken Rayment, crew member Tom Cable, travel agent Bela Miklos and fan Willie Satinoff, a friend of United manager Sir Matt Busby, were also victims of the tragedy.
Tributes were also paid in United’s FA Cup fourth-round tie against Middlesborough at Old Trafford on Friday night.
Reds interim coach Ralf Rangnick and visitors boss Chris Wilder laid wreaths on the pitch before kick-off, while the players wore black armbands.
Rangnick said in his official program notes: “I have always admired how this club pays tribute every year to such an important incident in its history, and it is important that this tradition always continues because it is such a big part of Manchester United’s history.” . .”
Club captain Harry Maguire also said: “I think it’s a really important day, the anniversary of the air disaster, a great tragedy, but a tragedy where the club has built a lot of traditions and foundations to show its union with the fans said the captain.
“The club as a whole has shown great unity and that’s what it has shown over the years, getting up again and showing that spirit.”
Manchester United Women wore black armbands in their away game against Arsenal on Saturday.
And the flags at Old Trafford will fly half-staff until after the Under-18 match on Wednesday night, the club said.
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.