The Busby Babes have been the reference point for Manchester United ever since the Munich Air Disaster, former-manager Sir Alex Ferguson has claimed.
The Scot suggested that the Babes, both those were tragically killed in the plane crash 60 years ago today and those who survived and helped build the club up again, are what make Man United the club they are.
60 years on from the disaster, services are taking place in both Manchester, at Old Trafford, and in Munich, where up to 1000 United fans have travelled to pay respects, despite no game being played.
“The Babes are what gives this club such a fantastic romance,” Ferguson said, “in terms of how they played the game and how they generated this thread of youth throughout the club. The spirit of the club is created by all these young players – and that began back then.”
After the crash, with only eight players available and United having a game under two weeks later, assistant manager Jimmy Murphy rounded up the youth players at United and the phrase, coined by then-chairman Harold Hardman, “United Will Go On,” rang true.
The record that began before the crash, of United having at least one academy graduate in every matchday squad, still stands, showing the legacy of the Babes.
Ferguson also revealed what he was told by Sir Matt Busby, the great manager who was create that iconic United team and saw eight of young players die before struggling in hospital himself, about the crash.
“The history that was made through that period of Matt playing those young players is really the history of United,” Ferguson said. “A decade on, Matt won the European Cup while playing the same philosophy, using players for the most part produced by the club. It’s incredible.”
“While I was at United the Babes were always a reference point for us, in terms of having belief and trust in what young players can do. Matt never spoke to me about Munich, but he spoke about Duncan Edwards, David Pegg, Eddie Colman and all the boys who passed.”
United’s current first team players have received a letter from one of the two remaining survivors, Sir Bobby Charlton. They’re still educated on the most important moment in the club’s history, and rightly so, because Munich defines Manchester United, as Ferguson says.