Flowers of Manchester

My blog this week is about the 55th anniversary of the Munich air disaster that took the lives of 21 people, including eight players of probably the greatest club team ever to play football. This event is ever-present at Manchester United and it is what made the club great. So long as there are fans that remember it, Manchester United will never die.

I’ve been a Manchester United supporter all my life. The day I was born my father gave the nurse a small United hat to put on my head instead of the blue ones usually used to signify a boy. I still have the first Man United kit I ever wore, a blue kit from the 1993/1994 season, and I remember going to see my first match at Wembley against Chelsea. From a young age I learned about Munich. It was through this catastrophe that my grandparents in Africa learned about who United were and what the club was about. From then on they became United supporters and to be part of my family being a “red” is a necessity. When you support United, people often think that you support them only for the glory that we have won in the past 25 years or so, and I use “we” purposely because Manchester United is such a huge part of me that without it I would not be the same person that I am today. For many of the six million United supporters world wide this is probably true.  But whether a supporter of United since childhood, since they won the treble or since the time of David Beckham or Cristiano Ronaldo, reading into the history people can’t help but fall in love with this magical club. We are the most historic club in the world not only because of the great players we have had and still have, not only because of what we won, not only because of the brand of football we play, but because of Munich and how the club went on afterwards. “Before Munich, Manchester United belonged to the people of Manchester. But afterwards it captured the imagination of the entire world.”

Feb. 6, 1958 was the darkest day in Manchester United history. The best team in Europe, probably the world, destroyed. Eight young men surrendered their lives that da, two more could never play again. The tragedy grasped all of England, all of the world. It seemed impossible that Manchester United could continue with their team decimated and their manager fighting for his life in a Munich hospital but the club realized that it had to go on. The people were counting on it to continue. “That day a promise was made, the words were said, a silent vow, the Red flag will always fly, because Man United will never die.” From that day on Man United has stood as a symbol for those young men who were so cruelly taken from this Earth. People often wonder why United supporters make a big deal about winning with style, but that was how the Busby Babes played, Man United was to be a tribute to them and always will be. True United fans have a keen sense of history and Munich means a lot to us. Those boys that were taken were our boys, they were local lads who were taking the world by storm and looked set to win the treble. Amongst them the great Duncan Edwards, who by many accounts would have gone on to be the greatest footballer ever to live. Pele once said that if Munich never happened the 1958, ’62 and ’66 World Cup would have been won by England and Duncan would have captained them. The world not only lost some magnificent footballers but they lost some terrific young people who were so full of life and enthusiasm. It is for this reason that I will always continue to support United, and will know that no matter what Man United will always go on.

Our history did not begin with them and it did not end with them. Since that tragic day in Munich, everything we do is done FOR them. They are the Flowers of Manchester, the Flowers of England. Rest in Peace.