Created on 06-02-2015 at 12:30 PM
On 6 February 2015, Sir Bobby Charlton, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Dieter Reiter gathered to remember the 1958 Munich air disaster involving Manchester United. Back in 1958, the Red Devils’ gifted young team were English champions and were nicknamed the ”Busby Babes” after legendary manager Matt Busby. They were the pride of England and joint favourites for the European Cup after a 3-3 draw away to Red Star Belgrade in the semi-final first leg. The plane carrying the team home made a refuelling stop in Munich, scene of the crash on 6 February 1958 that claimed the lives of Geoff Bent, Roger Byrne, Eddie Colman, Mark Jones, David Pegg, Billy Whelan, Tommy Taylor and Duncan Edwards.
At the time of writing 57 years have passed since the greatest catastrophe in Manchester United’s long history, but the memory lives on. The visitors to Germany’s biggest club museum on 6 February 2015 again turned their thoughts to the eight young players whose lives were cut short by the tragic accident in Munich on the same day in 1958. “It was not only an obligation on the part of FC Bayern, but especially a gesture of friendship towards a club we’ve had excellent relations with for many years,” commented Karl Heinz Rummenigge. The FC Bayern München AG chairman joined Sir Robert “Bobby” Charlton, his wife Lady Norma and Mayor of Munich Dieter Reiter to unveil a new permanent installation at the FC Bayern club museum as a memorial to the tragic day.
“We will never forget you”
Charlton, who survived the crash as a 20-year-old, was visibly moved when he saw the memorial for the first time. The United legend confirmed his attendance at once on hearing of Bayern’s plans. The display at the heart of the museum contains a replica of the memorial stone at the site in Trudering, along with an array of letters, scarves and shirts left by fans in tribute to the dead. Even now, fans make the pilgrimage to “Manchesterplatz” (Manchester Square) on the corner of Emplstrasse and Rappenweg to lay flowers and other tributes. Most of the mementoes are inscribed: “We will never forget you”.
“I’m very proud to be here today,” said Charlton. FC Bayern and especially Advisory Board member Hermann Memmel have never allowed the tragedy to be forgotten. On the 50th anniversary in 2008 delegations from both clubs gathered at Manchesterplatz for a memorial ceremony. The permanent exhibit in the FC Bayern club museum will now ensure the memory lives on. “This is a good day,” said Dieter Reiter: “It’s important we maintain this memory and we shall continue to do so in the future.”
"An important part of our lives"
The memorial at the centre of the exhibition commemorates an important event in Munich’s contemporary and footballing history and also exemplifies the special relationship between FC Bayern and Manchester United: “It’s an important part of our lives,” Sir Bobby Charlton summarised.