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Harry Gregg

9 years ago

[center]Harry Gregg[/center]


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Playing/Manegerial Career

Harry Gregg was born on the 25th of October 1932, in Coleraine, Co. Londonderry, Northern Ireland. His first team was Windsor Park Swifts,then transfering to his local club, Coleraine. When Harry celebrated his 18th birthday, he crosed the Irish Sea to join Yorkshire club, Doncaster Rovers. He made 94 appearances in 5 seasons at Doncaster. A dream move to join Matt Busby's promising crop of youngsters came in 1957. During a spell that spanned 9 seasons with the Red devils he made 210 appearences, keeping 48 clean sheets along the way. At the time of this transfer, he was the most expensive goalkeeper in the world

Rated by many asone of United's greatest goalkeepers, but Gregg, surprisingly, hasn't got one medal to justify this claim - even thought he played during one of United's most successful periods. Ruled out of the 1963 FA Cup Final victory against Leicester, which saw United win 3-1 (Law, Herd 2; Keyworth), with a shoulder injury, and a string of injuries prevented him from amassing enough apps to qualify for a Championship Medal in the 1964-65 and 1966-67 season

Transfered to Stoke in 1967 due to his increasing injury woes, then on to Shrewsbury Town to begin his managerial career. During November (1972), Harry crossed the boarder to manage Swansea City, before resigning his post there in February 1975 to take charge at Crew Alexandra where he spent 3 season. He then went back to for a spell at his old club, Manchester United, as a goalkeeping coach to help Dave Sexton, but both left United in the '81 season. His next club was Swindon Town where he teamed up with another Red, Lou macari. The pair of them guided Swindon to the 4th division title in 1986. He's since had a spell managing carlisle United in 1986-87, but it wasn't his most successful period as manager

The Fateful Crash in Munich

Nicknamed by some as the Hero of Munich for his heroic exploits, he rescued a certain Bobby Charlton, Jackie Blancheflower and Dennis Violet from the burning wreack. Where many would've cowered away, Harry was made of stronger stuff. Back he went to rescue a woman and her child, Vera Lukic and Verona, and his badly burnt manager, Matt Busby

"Roger Byrne didn't have a mark on him and his eyes were wide open, but he was clearly dead. I've always regretted I didn't close his eyes."

50 years on, Harry is still uncomfortable at being labelled as the 'Hero of Munich,' and angry that some of the survivors are still perpetuating half-truths about it.

In 2003, Harry said:
"Although the Munich Air Crash happened almost 45 years ago, I still have a whole range of lingering emotions about it: grief, obviously, but also anger, guilt, horror, frustration, and discomfort at being known as 'the Hero of Munich'."
Harry Gregg is 75 now but he will always be a Busby Babe, one of a rare group of young footballers who flowered at Manchester United in the Fifties

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Re: Harry Gregg

9 years ago

Triumph and despair


Harry Gregg: 'Roger Byrne didn't have a mark on him and his eyes were open, but he was clearly dead. I've always regretted I didn't close his eyes'

Interview by Denis Campbell
Sunday January 12, 2003
Observer Sport Monthly

Harry Gregg was one of just nine Manchester United players to survive the Munich Air Crash in February 1958. The disaster claimed 23 lives, including those of eight players. More than 40 years later, Gregg is still uncomfortable that he became known as 'the hero of Munich', and angry that some of the other survivors are still perpetuating half-truths about it.

Although the Munich Air Crash happened almost 45 years ago, I still have a whole range of lingering emotions about it: grief, obviously, but also anger, guilt, horror, frustration, and discomfort at being known as 'the Hero of Munich'.

Article continues
I somehow found the courage to climb back into the burning wreckage of the plane, even though Jim Thain, the captain, shouted: 'Run, you stupid bastard, it's going to explode!' I got a baby out, and then a woman too. I pulled Bobby Charlton and Dennis Viollet out of what was left of the aircraft and dragged them about 20 yards through the snow. Matt Busby was rubbing his chest and moaning, 'My legs, my legs.'

Roger Byrne didn't have a mark on him and his eyes were open, but he was clearly dead. I've always regretted that I didn't close his eyes. When I found Jackie Blanchflower, the lower part of his right arm had been almost completely severed. It was horrendous, a scene of utter devastation.

I was lucky, I survived, but I ended up suffering from classic survivor's guilt. For 40 years afterwards I couldn't face meeting Joy Byrne, Roger's widow, Geoffrey Bent's wife, Marion, David Pegg's family and many others. I couldn't look those people in the eye knowing I'd lived when their loved ones had perished.

It wasn't until 1998 that I finally confronted my demons, starting at the Munich Memorial Service at Manchester Cathedral. The next evening, after a United-Bolton match, I finally spoke to Joy Byrne, who said to me: 'Harry Gregg, why have you been torturing yourself for 40 years?' That night washed away years of guilt.

Munich became a crucial part of United's folklore but the truth of what happened at Munich is important, and that's why it both saddens and angers me that the crash has also become an industry which certain people have perpetuated and profited from through half-truths, outright lies, myth, distortion and exaggeration. The behaviour of some people after Munich rankled with me very much, and continues to do so, especially when the anniversary comes around.

There's a Manchester United player from that time, for example, whose CV goes, 'There but for the grace of God go I.' He has told people that it's only because of an injury that he didn't go on the trip. That's nonsense. Yes, he had played for the first team, but he wasn't a regular and was never going to go for that Red Star Belgrade game. Yet he has made a decent living on the after-dinner-speaking circuit living off Munich, which disgusts me.

Frank Taylor, the only journalist to survive the crash, later wrote a book, Munich, The Day A Team Died, which was widely praised. But it contained what I call poetic licence. In it Frank wrote about how efficient the German authorities were, and about how a fleet of ambulances and fire crews followed our plane down the runway on that disastrous third take-off. If that was true, why the hell did we travel to hospital in the back of a Volkswagen coal van?

And Bill Foulkes, who also survived, has said things like that the first time he saw me after the crash I was coming round the tail of the aircraft covered in blood with a child in my arms. The truth is that Bill did come back to help, but when I was bringing the child out, he was running away from the plane. We owe it to the memory of those left behind on that runway to tell it like it was.

However, Munich was not the worst moment in my life. That was losing my first wife, Mavis, to breast cancer less than three years later. She was diagnosed and had a mastectomy, and I thought she'd survive. But the cancer spread and she died. I have to admit I went to pieces. I had to send our two daughters over to my mother, Isobel, in Northern Ireland to be looked after. I ended up living like a complete and total animal.

In Munich I saw death on an horrendous scale, but it's very different when death comes in your own door. The public perception of me is that I'm a hard man or an awkward man.

Certainly there are times in my life that I have upset people when they have done something I think is unjust. But I've never been a hard man in my life. In some ways I'm actually a coward. Like when the doctor told me Mavis had cancer. I couldn't get out of the hospital quick enough. I couldn't face her and didn't know what to say. It was only when I saw her up at the window smiling at me that I went back. And she comforted me; I didn't comfort her.

A few months ago I had an operation for bowel cancer. When they said, 'You've got a growth,' I didn't ask too many details because I didn't want to know. You're asking me if I'm a coward? Yes, I'm a fornicate coward. But maybe I'm not the only one that doesn't like showing their true face to the world. Life's an act for a lot of people.

Courtesy The Observer

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Re: Harry Gregg

9 years ago

he 49th anniversary of the Munich air disaster has just passed, but I for one will never forget the heroism of one man.
Last week, a significant anniversary passed quietly without any particular mention in either the press or on television. With February 6, 1958 forever engraved in my memory, it was the 49th anniversary of the Munich air disaster when seven young Manchester United players were among 23 people who perished on a bleak, freezing Friday afternoon in Munich.

United were returning from a victorious European Cup-tie (in the days when only the champions of a country were eligible to play in it) against Red Star of Belgrade, and had made a re-fuelling stop in Germany before the last leg of their journey home. Twice the British European Airways plane tried to take off but turned back on the runway each time because of the freezing conditions. It was the same Elizabethan plane that had flown them safely to Belgrade five days earlier.

At the third attempt the aircraft overshot the runway because of ice, hit a house with its port wing, crashed into another building and burst into flames. Of the 38 passengers and six crew on board, 21 were killed, including seven players and eight sports journalists. Two more were to die later. It was a tragedy that stunned the world; a disaster that was to darken Manchester under a cloud of distress and mourning for days and weeks to come.

I recall that day for reasons other than one of remembrance. I was Sports Editor of my local evening newspaper in Doncaster, South Yorkshire, and when news of the disaster broke on the teleprinters from various news agencies we were stunned into disbelief.

Then suddenly I was struck with a terrifying thought. Two of my friends and a number of sports journalist colleagues were on that plane. David Pegg, United’s 22-year-old left-winger, was born in the village of Highfields on the north side of Doncaster. I had watched, and written about, his talents both as a schoolboy of exceptional skill and later as one of the illustrious Busby Babes.

Pegg was everybody’s favourite to succeed Tom Finney on England’s left wing but his future was tragically cut short. He died in the wreckage of the devastated aircraft. I was shattered when the name of David Pegg came through on the printers as a fatal casualty.

My grief at David’s death was somewhat tempered shortly afterwards when news came through that goalkeeper Harry Gregg was among the survivors. I had forged a close relationship with the young Irishman when he joined Doncaster Rovers as an 18-year-old in 1950. It was a friendship that was to span many years.

I travelled on the team bus with Doncaster Rovers to all their away games and Harry and I sat together for many hours. He told me of his young life in Ireland, of his ambitions in the game and his ultimate vision one day of playing in goal for Northern Ireland. He joined Manchester United in 1957, and was hailed a hero when he actually crawled back into the burning wreckage and dragged to safety several injured players, including Bobby Charlton, Jackie Blanchflower and Dennis Viollet, a woman passenger and her baby, and United manager Matt Busby.

But that was Harry Gregg – brave and totally fearless. He told me on many occasions: “You know, you have to be mad to be a goalkeeper.” What he did on that frozen runway in Munich wasn’t madness but a selfless commitment to his team-mates and total disregard for his own safety.

Duncan Edwards, one of the finest young players ever to grace the football fields of England, was to die in hospital a few days later. Busby suffered terrible injuries but recovered sufficiently to return to England a few weeks later and start the job of recreating another collection of brilliant Busby Babes.

In the meantime, a patched-up team of survivors, plus several young players out of the reserves and a clutch of emergency signings, were preparing to continue United’s playing campaign. Imagine my delight when I received a telephone call from Harry telling me that he had left two tickets in my name at the Old Trafford ticket office for the very first game after Munich.

My dad and I travelled to Manchester for one of the most memorable games I have ever witnessed – and that takes in the 1968 European Cup Final at Wembley when United beat Benfica 4-1. The atmosphere was unbelievable. Tears mixed with cheers throughout the game and United emerged 3-1 winners. They actually battled their way to Wembley two months later only to be beaten 2-0 by Bolton Wanderers.

Harry Gregg was to play 25 international matches for Northern Ireland and become a folk hero at Old Trafford. I’m not too ashamed that he is also one of my personal footballing heroes.

Courtesy sportingo

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dannywoodvine
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Re: Harry Gregg

9 years ago

Nice read there guys 8-)

My Grandad was the only Northern Ireland Goalkeeper to be capped at every level :)

He was born in Tobermore near Magherfelt In Northern Ireland in October 1932, then moved to Coleraine

He was diagnosed with Cancer a few years ago but since he has been treated and is now clear

He's currently Living in Northern Ireland near castlerock and is looking really well for the age of 75

Most of the stuff is in this thread :)

He's my rolemodel, sounds cheesey i know, someone ive always looked up to and always will :)

Thanks Danny

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Re: Harry Gregg

9 years ago

great stuff Danny. You must be so proud of him. Welcome aboard (Y)

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Re: Harry Gregg

9 years ago

Great to have you here Danny (Y)

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Re: Harry Gregg

9 years ago

Thanks alot guy's

I am so proud of him, he doesnt like being branded a 'Hero' but in my eyes he always will be :)

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Re: Harry Gregg

9 years ago

We all know he is a hero and i´d be proud too if he was my granddad. I can understand his stance though as it was a tragedy and he probably feels that he just did the right thing and that it was his duty. I also can fully understand that he doesn´t want to talk about it because it surely still hurts and the thoughts about it will never be gone for him.

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Re: Harry Gregg

9 years ago

You've hit the nail on the head there mate

I would like to think that people remember him for being a good goalkeeper aswel, he didnt recieve any medals to justify this which is a shame, he missed out on the FA cup final in 63 but if it were today he would have received that medal as he played enough games to justify one

He was Voted Best goalkeeper of the 1958 world cup and my mum has the piece of newspaper with the votes FIFA collected and he came second or third to PUSKAS, and im not 100% but i think its one of the first times a goalkeeper had came second/third to an outfield player in the overall votes :)

Ill see if i can fish it out and back up my facts

Also he is only one of a few united goalkeepers to be sent off (not sure whether thats a good thing lol)

Romulus

Re: Harry Gregg

9 years ago

Harry Gregg is considered by most as one of our best ever keepers, only Peter and Alex are thought to have been better.
So no worries there, people do remember him. Plus he WAS a hero at Munich.

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Re: Harry Gregg

9 years ago

Thanks alot guy's

I am so proud of him, he doesnt like being branded a 'Hero' but in my eyes he always will be :)
Always be proud Danny and your grandad WAS a Hero and still is today in the eyes of millions.
I knew you'd appreciate this forum, the best i've ever seen in tribute to all those who suffered from the tragic events that fatefull day.

SR. ;)
.

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Re: Harry Gregg

9 years ago

This guy is a complete one of a kind. His story of the crash is amazing, he is a true inspiration. Its a shame there havnt been to many comments on him as Munich could have been a lot worse without his heroics.

Sorry to upset you Harry but you are a living legend in my eyes on and off the pitch. He managed to play against sheffield wednesday just 13 days after the crash and as Danny said was voted best goalkeeper in the world in the 58 World Cup.

I watched many programmes with him in over the last week and listening to him has made me more emotional that anyone else.

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Re: Harry Gregg

9 years ago

You've hit the nail on the head there mate

I would like to think that people remember him for being a good goalkeeper aswel, he didnt recieve any medals to justify this which is a shame, he missed out on the FA cup final in 63 but if it were today he would have received that medal as he played enough games to justify one

He was Voted Best goalkeeper of the 1958 world cup and my mum has the piece of newspaper with the votes FIFA collected and he came second or third to PUSKAS, and im not 100% but i think its one of the first times a goalkeeper had came second/third to an outfield player in the overall votes :)

Ill see if i can fish it out and back up my facts

Also he is only one of a few united goalkeepers to be sent off (not sure whether thats a good thing lol)
No need - your facts are in fact --- Fact

I was there when he got sent off, it was against Blackburn Rovers, I think it was Mike England, they went up for the ball together and Harry went to punch it clear, missed, and just about took Mike's head off his shoulders

Funny thing was, the Ref immediately ordered him off and it was the Blackburn players who surrounded the Ref pleading for him to change his mind. Harry had already handed his jersey over to David Herd who was going to take his place in goal Blackburn captain Bryan Douglas got himself booked for protesting to loudly - I'll remember that because I was on the fence in the Paddock and started crying when he got sent off - I was still crying when I felt someone ruffle my hair, looked up and it was Him - Harry Gregg! He then went and knelt by the touchline near us and watched Blackburn take their penalty - the game ended 2-2

What was awful was he had just come back after injury, he had broken his collarbone the previous season against Liverpool after colliding with Ron Yeats

He was always the fans favourite, that sort of irked David Gaskell a fair bit, whenever the team was announced without Harry the fans didn't like it - which was unfair really becuase David did enough to keep his spot when he was called upon, Harry was the keeper with the class, but Dad reckoned he was never quite the same after Munich, prior to the tragedy my Dad reckoned he would have been better than Yashin

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Re: Harry Gregg

9 years ago

Thanks alot for all your posts

Thats very nice lawman, i did get your message the other day but i cant send private messages, so i have had people messaging me with me unable to reply

I did mention that to my granddad and he did remember you so i think thats nice :)

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Re: Harry Gregg

9 years ago

He remembered! What a Great Man

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Re: Harry Gregg

9 years ago

Danny, I hope you will see this.
Every UNITED supporter in the world should get behind this and do everything they can to make it happen.
Sir Matt recieved his Knighthood for all he did for Manchester United and football.

Maybe without Harry there would not have been a Sir Matt

If one man really deserves being called Sir for what he did for his fellow man/woman/child it is your grandad.


Calls grow for goalie Gregg to be given knighthood

source: sundaylife.co.uk

By Joe Oliver

Calls are growing for football legend Harry Gregg to be given a knighthood.

Fans have long believed the MBE he received in 1995 was scant recognition for his heroic actions in the Munich air disaster.

And it's understood the name of the modest Coleraine man is to be put forward by an influential lobby, including senior figures at Old Trafford.

On Feb 6th 2008, 50 years on from the sadest day in Uniteds history, 75-year-old Harry joined fellow Munich survivors - including Sir Bobby Charlton - for an emotional memorial service.

Twenty-three people, among them eight of the iconic Busby Babes, died after their plane crashed on take-off during a blizzard at Munich airport on February 6, 1958.

Gregg crawled bleeding from the burning wreckage - but returned time after time to help passengers and team-mates.

He pulled to safety pregnant Vera Lukic and her baby daughter Venona, as well as his badly injured boss Matt Busby.

Gregg also trailed Dennis Violett, Bobby Charlton and Jackie Blanchflower to safety.

The big goalie has always shunned the hero tag but he remains an inspirational figure.

Gary McAllister of the Amalgamation of Northern Ireland Supporters Clubs, told Sunday Life: "Harry's a football legend, a man of great courage and principle.

"He should have been knighted long ago and there are many, including those in the IFA, who would love to nominate him."

East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell said: "Harry Gregg is an outstanding ambassador for Northern Ireland and football. Such an honour would be richly deserved for a very courageous man and I would be delighted to support it."

United websites went into overdrive about a knighthood even before the memorial service at Old Trafford.

Manchester-based supporters group chairman Greg Fulton said: "I was only a youngster when it happened, but the people in this city will never forget Harry Gregg. 'Sir Harry' has a fantastic ring to it and we're certainly in the vanguard of support for that."


.

TomClare

Re: Harry Gregg

9 years ago

Harry Gregg - where do I start with one of the greatest goalkeepers who ever pulled on that green jersey, be it for Doncaster Rovers, Manchester United, his 2 games for Stoke City, or his beloved Northern Ireland? He first came to my notice in late 1957 when he played for Northern Ireland against England at Wembley in I think it was November 1957, when England were beaten by 3-2. The single most reason that England suffered defeat that day was Harry Gregg. It was one of the finest goalkeeping displays that you could ever wish to see and I just wish that there was still footage of that game around for people to see it. One save that I will always remember is a 25 yard blockbuster from Duncan Edwards that looked destined for the top corner of the net until there was a blur of movement and flying through the air like a swallow to his right, Harry punched the ball away. The 'Big Fella" stood there hands on hips looking at Harry in admiration. When the final whistle went the Irish fans clambered over the Wembley walls surrounding the pitch, raced onto the field, and Harry was hoisted high and chaired all the way back to that famous old tunnel. It's my opinion that it was his performance in this game that persuaded Sir Matt Busby to sign Harry and pay a record fee for a goalkeeper at that time.

He was signed I think on the 18th December 1957 and what a great early Christmas present that must have been for him. He joined a dear old friend of his at Old Trafford, Jackie Blanchflower whom he had known since schoolboy days when they both played in the same Northern Ireland schoolboys team. Harry was coming out of Third Division football at that time and he made his debut for United against Leicester City on Saturday, December 21st, 1957. I attended that game and stood behind the goal at the Scoreboard End. That was the end that the "Babes" always came out to when they emerged from the old player's tunnel. I just wanted to see our new goalkeeper. At that time I was a budding goalkeeper myself and my idol (after Edwards of course!) was Bert Trautmann who played for Manchester City. On the day of the game against Leicester, the teams came out and this big twine toed fellow started his jog towards the goal. I was mesmerised just watching him! He had such presence. He took his place in the goal as the forwards started firing balls at him. At that time, United had a young mascot who could have been no more than 6/7 yars old (I always wonder what ever happened to that kid) and he would go around the players during their 5 minute warm up and hand them a stick of chewing gum. As he approached Harry, he stopped dead as though frightened, and on seeing this, Roger Byrne, United's captain, took the kid by the hand and took him on to Harry who took the stick of gum, knelt in front of the youngster, said a few words, and then ruffled his hair. It's just a little thing that sticks in my memory. The game began and very early on a high cross was floated into the area and underneath it was Edwards and Byrne, but out off his line came Greggy, soared into the air, knocking both Edwards and Byrne out of the way as he did it, caught the ball cleanly and quickly bowled the ball out to Eddie Colman, setting United on the attack. The look on both Edwards and Byrne's faces was as if to say; "He'll do for me!" United won comfortably that day by 4-0.

Harry's first game also caused a little bit of wide eyed astonishment with the fans. When play was at the other end of the field, he would wander outside of his area and could be found mid way between the edge of the 18 yard line and the half way line. Back in those days, goalkeepers just did not do that, and it caused a lot of comment. The next game was against Luton Town at Old Trafford on Christmas Day 1957 and again I was there behind that Scoreboard End goal, and again, he didn't concede as United ran out easy winners by 3-0. The following day, Boxing Day was the return fixture at Kennilworth Road and he conceded his first goals as the game was a tight fought 2-2 draw. Kennilworth Road was a ground that he would come to remember in later years for an entirely different reason!

Just two days later, on December 28th he faced his first "derby" game against Manchester City at Maine Road. City were also going well that season and once more, it was a game that I attended. Over 70,000 packed into the ground that day and I was stood on what came to be known as the "Kippax" in later years. Back then it was a large arcing, open Spion Kop of a terrace. The game was a ding-dong affair and no quarter was asked or given and it ended all-square at 2-2. It was this game that the sports writers of the time took Harry to task for his habit of wandering outside of his area when play was at the other end, and he got a fair bit of criticism for it. In my eyes it was unwarranted and I suppose that Sir Matt felt the same way as he never chose to discourage him.

I saw his first ever European game against Red Star Belgrade at Old Trafford on January 14th 1958. I say that I saw it - but not too much of it! Today I doubt if that game would ever have been started. It was thick with fog that night, and for most of the game, you couldn't see across the far side of the pitch! United won 2-1 but I have to be honest, I could not see either of the goals that Bobby Charlton and Eddie Colman scored as United won 2-1.

The following Saturday they destroyed a team that used to be their Nemisis - Bolton Wanderers, and by an astonishing scoreline of 7-2! Bolton were always a big bogey team to United, but that day, they were just steamrollered. The last time that I saw Harry play with the "Babes" was in their last home game, a 4th Round F.A. Cup tie against Ipswich Town which was won at a stroll by 2-0 and Harry had little to do. The week after he took part in that famous last game on home soil, the 5-4 win at Highbury, and then it was on to Belgrade.

He performed heroically in the 3-3 draw against Red Star, particularly in that second half when Red Star threw the kitchen sink at United. His performance that afternoon often gets overlooked, but he poroduced some vital saves that were critical to United getting the 3-3 draw.

The following day we all know what happened and the part that Harry Gregg played that day can never ever be allowed to be forgotten. What that man did was above and beyonf the call of what any man could or should have done. That he saved lives is beyond dispute. Cometh the hour, cometh the man, and that man was Harry Gregg. He doesn't like being called a hero, but that undoubtedly is what he is. The courage he showed that day was phenomenal to say the least.

I recall some of his performances after the tragedy and particularly one at Preston's Deepdale in a 0-0 draw. Again, his performance was incredible, and for a big man, his agility had to be seen to be believed. Two saves in particular I remember that afternoon were to shots that he really had no right to get near to, but he flew through the air and beat them away with his fists. It's something that I wish modern day goalkeeper's would take note of - technique - today they just seem to allow the ball to hit them - Harry beat the ball away and it would more often than not, fly away out of danger. It was also at Deepdale that afternoon that I first heard him get involved with somebody in the crowd at the back of the goal. Somebody was giving him stick, and Harry left the guy in no uncertain terms what he would do to him if he got his hands on him! It became a rucurring thing with him - particularly at away grounds!

He played such a huge part in the rebuilding of Manchester United and that part should also never be forgotten. Sadly, injuries took their toll on him and it's my opinion that the first shoulder injury which started it, and if my memory serves me right happened against Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford on 14th January 1961. 'Spurs were all conquering at that time and were on a roll. One thing that I will always recall from that match was a young Nobby Stiles playing at inside right, getting in his first tackle on the elegant Danny Blanchflower early in the game. I can see it now - the ball was there to be won - the wizened elegant international player on one side, and the young upstart of a sprog on the other. Nobby's fierce determination and will-to-win took about 10 yards of turf, the ball, and Danny Blanchflower, all in one flowing sweeping movement. Danny shot up in the air, and hit the ground like a falling sack of coal. He was never the same again throughout the rest of the match and obviously, he had one eye on Nobby and tried to avoid him whenever he could! Harry popped his shoulder in the first half of that game diving into a ruck of players. Alex Dawson took over in goal and Harry, believe it or not, went to centre forward - his shoulder and arm strapped up in a sling! United had taken the lead in the first half through of all people, Nobby Stiles! But as the game wore on, 'Spurs were getting the upper hand. With about 10 minutes left United managed an attack going towards the Scoreboard End. Harry made a diagonal run from left to right, and took 'Spurs' towering centre half, Maurice Norman, with him. It created a couple of yards of space into which ghosted young Mark Pearson coming from left to right, and behind Norman. The ball came through to Harry from I think it was Bobby Charlton, and with the deftest of back heels, Harry played young Pearson in, and he smashed the ball past Bill Brown the 'Spurs goalkeeper and into the net. 2-0 and the 65,000 fans inside Old Trafford erupted. Harry was engulfed by his team mates, and he had to fight them off for fear that his shoulder would take another battering. Sadly, that shoulder injury was to plague him for the rest of his career.

In 1963 he played in every round of the F.A. Cup up to the semi-final. Sadly, a run of mediocre results leading up to that semi resulted in Harry losing his place. Nobby Stiles also missed out on a place in the Final as well. It was sad really, because if ever there was a man who deserved some silverware in his career at United, it was Harry Gregg.

The next few years he was in and out of the team and he vied with Gaskell and Pat Dunne for the number 1 'keeper's spot. His real swan song at Old Trafford was during the 1965/66 season when he was the number one choice for the majority of that season's games. There were some really memorable games in that season and Iit may surprise a few people when I mention them. United drew Benfica in the Quarter Final of the EC that season. The first tie was at home and and was so closely fought with Bill Foulkes scoring what turned out to be the winning goal in a 3-2 victory. The away tie in Benfica's Stadium of Light is well known to United's supporters as this was the night that a young George Best ran amok and United won 5-1, catapulting the young Irishman into super star status. But in both those games, Harry Gregg was the goalkeeper! He also played in both semi-final legs against Partizan Belgrade. That United should have gone on to the EC Final that year is beyond doubt, but a combination of injuries, and missed chances saw them lose 2-0 in Belgrade, and win 1-0 at Old Trafford. Such a major disappointment for players and fans alike - so near, yet so far. United also reached the semi-final of the F.A. Cup that season, but lost to Everton by 1-0 - again so near yet oh! so far.

Harry played his last game for United on September 7th 1966 in a 3-0 defeat at the City ground in Stoke. His contribution to Manchester United can never be underestimated. What he did can never be looked at in terms of medals won. That he doesn't have a cabinet full of them is a travesty in my eyes. However what he does have is so many, many, wonderful memories especially of those 11 games that he played with probably, and I make no bones about saying this, the finest young team that Manchester United has ever produced. You can't get much better than that.

Just a few years before Jackie Blanchflower passed away I had the honour of sitting with him at a former player's reuninion dinner. He spoke so wonderfully well of his great mate, team mate, and comerade. He told me a story about Harry when he was staying with the Blanchflowers just after he had signed for United. Apparently Jean and Jackie had been out one night, and when they came home, they could hear somebody mooching about at the back of the house. Jackie thought that they had burglars and so picked up a stone from the garden. He tiptoed around the back of the house ready to pounce on the would be burglar only to find Harry sat there shivering - he'd lost the key they had given to him! He also told me about Harry's first day at Old Trafford when the lads wanted him to play snooker and he was very reticent. Eventually he relented and they couldn't understand some of the shots that he was trying to play. All came to light later as he told Jackie that he had a hole in the sole of his shoe and didn't want the lads to think that the world's costliest goalkeeper could not afford a decent pair of shoes!

He was a volatile character and never suffered fools. He had a love-hate relationship with little Johnny Giles and erupted one time when the team were away on tour, chasing the little Dubliner all around the hotel, before Giles finally barricaded himself in a room. At Luton Town, a guy ran onto the field at the end of the match and made a bee line for Harry, but the sweetest of right hooks saw the guy ending up flat on his back in the mud. Nobody ever took liberties with Harry Gregg, and there was a lot of barnstorming, hard centre forwards around back in those days who would intimidate goalkeeper's whenever they could. It never worked with Harry, and on a number of occasions, especially in goal mouth melees, some of them would be suddenly found face down in the mud almost comatose - and nobody ever saw a thing!

His life has suffered a lot more than its share of tragedy and he's always had mountains to climb throughout it. It says so much for the man that he has faced life's challenges head on - just as he faced those fearless centre forwards of his day. He never ever shirked those challenges and he always rose above them. It says so much for the courage, determination, tenacity, but also the great modesty, and the great love of his family that he has.

With Harry, what you see is what you get, and that's the way he is. The word legend is banded about today all too frequently and bestowed upon people who in my honest opinion are not fit to wipe Harry's boots. He didn't win much in the way of medals during his time at Manchester United, but what he did do was win his place in the love and affection of all of us who were so privileged to see him in his prime. A legend? There is never any doubt about that - but a legend in the truest sense of the word.

Live long and happy Harry and thanks for all the memories.

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dannywoodvine
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Re: Harry Gregg

9 years ago

Tom - what can i say??

That is an amazing write up, i am speechless that is so good infact i will be printing that straight off

As for the knighthood, i havent seen this until today as i have had major problems with my Broadband, i think Sir Harry definatly has a ring to it and i think my Granddad would be very proud to have it at this time of his life, whether or not it will take effect is another question but that fact that people are trying to make this happen is amazing

Hes actually over in birmingham this weekend doing some signing with albert scanlon

Thank you very much for the added memories it really does mean alot

Oh and wheres this petition for me to sign? lol

Aragorn

Re: Harry Gregg

8 years ago

I don't expect you will see many posts from me on this site...I joined so I could read the posts as Danny my son had told me about them..they are pehnomenal and the sentiment and respect that people appear to have for Harry Gregg is wonderful. Believe me he is a wonderful man. He still loves his football and his memories of his playing days are as though it was only yesterday. He can talk you through a game that happened 50yrs ago move by move and you can bet he is reliving it minute by minute with the same enthusiasm he did then. As for a hero? He is a man who did what he could for others without second thought for his own safety..in a situation where most would run away......yes he is hero..... I agree wholeheartedly that he does deserve a knighthood....but then I would...I am his eldest daughter.

Welcome to the board and thanks for sharing that with us.
We have a classic match section and would consider it an honour if Harry could remember a couple for you to put in there.

His unselfish act saved peoples lives,thats a true hero.

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Manchester Boy
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Re: Harry Gregg

8 years ago

One of the best players in the 1962 World Cup (i think it was 62)

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kingcantona
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Re: Harry Gregg

8 years ago

what a great thread this. i specially like the one where harry talks about munich and how people have taken advantage of it. i think the anger, frustration and sadness all come out. It is great to have danny and linda over here at the forum. harry was truly a great man from what i've read and it is an honour to know he played for united and to read about it here. as graham said, it would be great to hear snippets from Sir harry ( yes it has a nice ring to it)

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dannywoodvine
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Re: Harry Gregg

7 years ago

Hi guys

As you can see i dont come on here that often :(

Im one for reading alot of information rather than posting it, still some great stuff on this site and its great to think that the memories of united's past is being kept alive by people like yourselves

I dont normally do stuff like this, someone has created a facebook page for my Granddad - i came across it about a month ago and there was no administration on the site so i took over the running of it (if the person who created it is on this site then thank you very much)
The page is dedicated to getting my Granddad knighted which i have seen an overwhelming response to, i for one am unable to do anything about this (they would see it as biased etc.. coming from a family member)

I was just wondering if i could ask your permission to post a link on here to the page (for all those facebook users) to show your support for it??

I understand if not, and feel free to delete this post

I have looked into the knighthood and i believe someone of stature or a member of parliment has to put a name forward for it to be recognised, they say that anyone can put forward his name but im not sure if it would be notcied as much?

Does anyone have any tips on what to do?

The process is very long and around about 18months just for an answer!!

Any help would be much appreciated

Many Thanks

Danny Woodvine

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mikey
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Re: Harry Gregg

7 years ago

Post the link then Danny (Y)

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dannywoodvine
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Re: Harry Gregg

7 years ago

Thank you very much :)

http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=8587394526

Ive put as many pictures on there as i can at the moment, dont have all the time in the world lol, some of them my family havent even seen, its amazing how clear they are even though they were taken 50 years ago :) (oh the joys of the internet and having a little bit of time on your hands)

RedSte
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Re: Harry Gregg

7 years ago

Certainly you can post the link with our blessing Danny :)

Your grandfather was a great man and a legend to all of us on United Lounge. If anyone can help Danny out re the Facebook thing please do so. (Y)
My old man said be a City fan...

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