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Matt
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What if..

Wed Feb 06, 2008 11:44 pm

I read this in the Daily Mail Munich Pull Out(5th Feb) couldn't find it on the web, but the decided to write it myself as it really touched me.

By Oliver Holt
Imagine Bobby Moore never lifted the World Cup on that glorious day in 1966. The little detail about how the England captain wiped his hands on his way up to the Royal Box because he didn't want to make the Queen's white gloves muddy? Imagine they never happened.

Imagine Stanley Matthews hadn't been around to transform the 1953 FA Cup Final. Imagine no George Best. Or no Denis Law. No Colin Bell. Imagine there had never been the great Everton triumvirate of Ball, Harvey and Kendall. Imagine Charlie George had never scored that goal in the 1971 Cup Final and laid down on his back on the Wembley turf. Imagine no Kevin Keegan at Anfield in the 70s. Imagine if Liverpool had never won the European Cup in Rome in 1977. Imagine Kenny Dalglish had never played south of the border.

And then maybe you begin to understand. Then maybe you begin to realise what happened when that plane crashed in Munich on its final doomed attempt to take-off on February 6, 1958.

Slowed by slush on the runway to the point where it did not have enough speed to get off the ground, the Elizabethan smashed through the perimeter fence, slammed into a house and careered on for another 100 yards, spinning round until it came to a halt. And in those terrifying, terrible moments, a great slice of English football history was lost to us forever.

What they might have been. What they might have done. It's the torment that tortures the families and friends of any young man or woman taken before their time. And in this case of the Busby Babes, the wondering and the dreaming has been done by a nation of football lovers for half a century. A team was wiped out when it stood on the verge of greatness. Obliterated as it was about to do things no other English team had done before.

If eight of the Busby Babes had not lost their lives as a result of that crash, we would have had a different history, a different set of football icons. Matt Busby's young team was going for a third successive League Title after winning it in 1956 and 1957. That would have given them a special place in history. Who knows whether they might have won four, even five on the trot.

They were pioneering English involvement in the European Cup too. They were on their way back from completing an aggregate victory over Red Star Belgrade when they stopped to refuel in Munich. Nothing is certain but they may have become the first British side to win the competition, long before Celtic managed it in 1967. They might have built a dynasty at Old Trafford that outshone that established at Real Madrid.

What has tantalised football historians more more than anything is the loss of Duncan Edwards, the great colossus of Old Trafford. edwards was 21 when he died, fighting on for 15 days after the crash despite severe internal injuries that gave him no right to survive for that long. But by then, the United number six had already won 18 caps for England at a time when there were far fewer international matches than there are now. If he had survived, he would have been 29 in the summer of 1966. The chances are he would have been part of Alf Ramsey's team that beat Germany. Chances are, it would have been him lifting the World Cup, and not Moore. Chances are there would have been five players in the England 100-club David Beckham is starving to join. Add Edwards to Peter Shilton, Moore, Bobby Charlton and Billy Wright.

Chances are too, that Ryan Giggs would be chasing a Manchester United appearance record a little further away from his grasp than Charlton's is now. Edwards had already played 177 times for United when he was killed. Charlton said Edwards was the only player who ever made him feel inferior. "Compared to him" Charlton said, "rest of us were like pygmies."

And so all we can do is wonder what Edwards might have achieved and preserve him and Geoff Bent, Roger Byrne, Eddie Colman, Mark Jones, David Pegg, Tommy Taylor and Liam Whelan in our minds as men who might have conquered the world. They still left an enduring legacy to United of course. Not just in what they had already achieved before their deaths. But in the mystery and tragic romance they lent the club from February 6 onwards.

The Munich air crash made the Busby Babes into a team of James Deans, forever young in our memories, forever puffing out their chests in pride. Not withered by age or hobbled by the kind of humdrum injury that could end a career half a century ago. And because of that, because Busby fought his way back to health after being read his last rites and helped his team to rise again, United have a claim to be the most famous club in the world. It was Munich and the club's resurrection after it, the emotion of the renewed pursuit of the European Cup culminating in that triumph against Benfica at Wembley in 1968, that gave the club its mystique.

In a way it was Munich that gave George Best his platform, Munich that allowed him to take the grand stage as the heir of the Babes, the man who finally allowed Busby to achieve the dram his team had died chasing. That was what turned United into the self-styled "biggest club in the world". That was what made them the Beatles of world football. That was what spawned the commercial power they have now. That's why they have a bigger, wider fanbase than any other English club.

Manchester United and English football were robbed of part of their histories when that plane crashed at Munich 50 years ago. But the Legend of the Busby Babes, the dream of what they might have become and the memory of their youth and their promise lives on and on.




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liz jomaa
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Re: What if..

Thu Feb 07, 2008 2:27 am

very thought provoking muziq....thanks for taking the time to type that out,i enjoyed reading it.

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Re: What if..

Thu Feb 07, 2008 3:18 am

Good article, mate. It does make you wonder what would our kids achieve if that crash never happened. We could've won more trophies than Liverpool right now. In fact, I think we would've won more.

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Re: What if..

Thu Feb 07, 2008 9:30 am

thanks mate for going through the trouble of writing it down. It does make you wonder doesn't it? What could they have achieved if they hadn't been taken away that night? WE might have won the european titles that Madrid won then.

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Re: What if..

Thu Feb 07, 2008 11:13 am

But it's not only what they could have done. What would have happened afterwards? Would have Bestie got the chance to play for us? Would they be mentioned less than they are now after their retirement. If Charlton wasn't there and survived, would he be mentioned and respected as much? Would he have played as long as he did if the likes of the other young ones were there to compete?

A lot of ifs in there, and not only for United, I think they could have made a big difference in the World Cup.
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Re: What if..

Thu Feb 07, 2008 11:50 am

I'm thinking about this a lot lately. I never saw them play but 1 sentence from Bobby Charlton is enough for me. When he said that Duncan Edwards was the only player whom made him feel inferior i can only imagine what a player he must've been.

If the crash never happened they could have dominated the '60s. Won more european cups than Real Madrid.

But on the other hand, because of the crash they will never be forgotten for the team they were. A team full of young English lads who went on to become the champions of England twice in a row with exiting football. I don't really know how to say this but i think the crash partly made them the legends they are right now.

One guy once said that the babes will play play forever in our minds. They are gone but never will they be forgotten.

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Matt
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Re: What if..

Thu Feb 07, 2008 12:11 pm

That's what I tried to say, but could put into words, I am somehow "thankful" for the crash... (don't get me wrong please..)

We probably wont get to know so much about them if it wasn't for it, and they will always be young in our thoughts.

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Re: What if..

Thu Feb 07, 2008 7:12 pm

So a tabloid paper can write sensibly if it wants to. Good article. Thanks Matthew.

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Re: What if..

Thu Feb 07, 2008 9:01 pm

very good read! thank you for typing it out for us, matt.

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Re: What if..

Thu Feb 07, 2008 9:07 pm

Good article mate, cheers (Y) I remember back on the old TR when the 3 Johns all talked about what would've happened without Munich, how JR came up with a United team circa 1963 with an irresistable forward line ((r-l) Best, Law, Taylor, Edwards, Charlton), John O'Donnell saying that Tommy Taylor would've set unbeatable goalscoring records for United and England and Lawfan giving a long, detailed analysis of what would've happened and how England would have always been the predominant footballing nation ahead of Brazil. But the sadness of it all is that we'll never know :(

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Re: What if..

Thu Feb 07, 2008 11:51 pm

A great article.. and from Oliver Holt too who is well -known for being something of an ABU. Credit where it is due to the guy.

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Re: What if..

Fri Feb 08, 2008 2:16 am

great article indeed.. really feel sad about the munich tragedy. :?
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Re: What if..

Fri Feb 08, 2008 11:30 am

I saw an interesting what if the other day

What if Matt Busby had taken the Liverpool job and Bill Shankly had come here?

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Re: What if..

Fri Feb 08, 2008 6:00 pm

great artical great read
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Matt
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Re: What if..

Fri Feb 08, 2008 6:04 pm

I saw an interesting what if the other day

What if Matt Busby had taken the Liverpool job and Bill Shankly had come here?
There are a lot of "what ifs surrounding Busby"

What if he didn't keep a close eye on Best? What if he never survived? Both end up with the a following question "Would've we able to win the European Cup?"

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Re: What if..

Fri Feb 08, 2008 9:53 pm

Like you say Matt , the "what if's" are almost endless. The one I think about most often is, what if Sir Matt had died and Duncan had survived? They were both rated as 50-50 at one point, indeed most doctors though Duncan probably would survive and Sir Matt wouldnt!

We would have had another 10 years or more of maybe the greatest player of all-time but we would have been without the inspiration and the guiding hand on the tiller of the good ship United. Would Jimmy Murphy have stepped up as full-time boss? Would they have brought in Shankly instead? SO many questions that will never be answered.

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Re: What if..

Fri Feb 08, 2008 10:48 pm

So many what ifs? What if that team had gone on to rule Europe as was predicted and be unstoppable at home for 10 years? We could be talking about United being 10 times winners of he European Cup and winning the League 28 times.

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Re: What if..

Fri Feb 08, 2008 11:12 pm

..and other what ifs follow from that too mate...

We would almost certainly not have signed Denis Law (cue wails of anguish from Lawman); and it is possible we may not have seen George Best break through to the first team, as we may not have canvassed so actively for youth players far and wide....

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Re: What if..

Fri Feb 08, 2008 11:18 pm

Thanks Matt, for the interesting read. It definitely is thought provoking as Liz had mentioned. ;)

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Re: What if..

Fri Feb 08, 2008 11:21 pm

Thanks for the article. It's amazing to think what might've happened had it not been for Munich - and what might not have happened. Everything would be so different now.

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Re: What if..

Sat Feb 09, 2008 4:09 am

So many what ifs? What if that team had gone on to rule Europe as was predicted and be unstoppable at home for 10 years? We could be talking about United being 10 times winners of he European Cup and winning the League 28 times.
If Munich had never have happened Jimmy may have taken up the full-time post as Wales manager and Shankly might have come here - no Liverpool

Dad reckoned the Babes would have eventually reached a point within 2-3 more seasons where they would not only have become unbeatable, they would have become the only team to go through a season with P42 W42 - on top of that there is the other side that once they did become established Matt would have continued strengthening the side - the addition of Bestie for instance Plus he'd been chasing Denis since he was 16 (see Paddy's remarks about Denis losing his memory) and don't forget, the reason we sold Johnny Giles was he didn't fit into the team we had at that time, maybe he might have stayed

It's possible that it could have gone on longer than 10 years, no team managed to stand out and dominate the 60s, not because they were rubbish, but because there was a fairly even spread of great players, but not one side contained 11 great players - SAF has built a dynasty by adding to the first great side he built Matt would probably have done the same if it hadn't been for Munich

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