At the heart of Old Trafford, the Busby Babes occupy a special place. Their success in Manchester United’s history is also shadowed by a disaster. According to Sir Alex Ferguson, Matt Busby’s team is a key reference for any Red Devils Manager.
Who were the Busby Babes?
The origin of Busby Babes was from Manchester Evening News Sub Editor Frank Nicklin. In his report after a Liverpool and United game where there was a debut of two youngsters, he moulded the name. The name caught on as more young players were integrated into the game.
As the names suggest, there was a thread of youthfulness in the team. The introduction of the FA Youth Cup in 1952 provided a platform for the team to dominate. With an average age of 22, Busby Babes won the 1955-1956 First Division.
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Identification of talent by Joe Armstrong and Jimmy Murphy training them, the club was steady. As the years went by most of the players graduated to the first team. “It takes a brave person to do that,” Ferguson said of Busby’s approach to building a team. “
Bobby Charlton is a notable member of the Babes. His scoring records for the club as well as the triumphant World Cup victory for England in 1966 make him exceptional.
Others include Johnny Berry, Duncan Edwards, Geoff Bent, Harry Greg, David Pegg, Mark Jones, David Viollet, and Tommy Taylor among others.
Not all the players came from the youth ranks at Manchester United. Players like Harry Gregg was signed by Doncaster Rovers and Tommy Taylor was signed from Barnsley.
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Munich air disaster
On 6 February 1958 the plane carrying the team home a European Cup tie against Red Star Belgrade crashed in Munich. The crash claimed the lives of 23 people namely Bent, Bryne, Colman, Edward, jones, Taylor and Pegg who were Manchester United players.
There were 21 survivors and one of them was Matt Busby who was pulled from the wreckage by Harry Gregg. Despite Matt Busby witnessing his team’s devastation, he carried on and restored the club’s glory days. He masterminded two further division title wins, FA Cup and in 1968, he ensured United grabbed its first European Cup.