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Duncan Edwards

Wed Jan 02, 2008 11:02 am

"This big lad came up to me and said "Reputations mean nothing to me and if you come near me I'll kick you over the stand." And that's what he tried to do as soon as I got the ball. United beat us 5-2 in that game." - Jackie Milburn, Newcastle & England forward recalls his first meeting with Edwards.
Duncan Edwards [hr][/hr]
For 15 days, Duncan Edwards fought for his life after being critically injured in the Munich air crash of February 6th, 1958. On February 21st, that battle was lost and a great player was gone.

His Life:
Duncan Edwards was born in Dudley in October 1st, 1936. He played for his school team where he was spotted by the United talents scouts. In June 1952, at the age of 15, he signed for United as a youth amateur. On his 16th birthday, he signed full professional terms with United.

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His Game:
Duncan quickly made his full United debut when he played 6 months after signing against Cardiff City. At the time he was the youngest every player to appear in the English First Division.

At just 18 years of age he made his England debut against Scotland in April 1955 -England's youngest post war player.

Ironically both records would be surpassed by current United wonder Wayne Rooney.

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His Fight for life:

After the Munich air crash, Duncan was diagnosed as critical but stable and his life was not deemed in danger. He had a broken leg, cracked ribs and other injuries. On February 11th, however, Duncan lost consciousness and was re-diagnosed with kidney failure. A replacement was rushed to the Munich hospital and was transplanted the next day.

Complications developed as his body began to reject the new kidney. The kidney inhibited Duncan's ability to clot blood and, dangerously, he began to bleed internally. Little more could be done medically yet for 10 more days Duncan fought on to the amazement of doctors.

People were reportedly very shocked at Duncan's loss, as it had been expected he would pull through. In the days before 24 hour TV and satellites news traveled slower and many had not heard of his deterioration.


His grave, in Dudley, is still a regular shrine for some United fans.

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Total United First Team Appearances: 175; goals 21. Full England Caps: 18, 5 goals
Honours: First Division Championship winner: (2) 1955/1956, 1956/1957; Charity Shield Winner: (2) 1956/57, 1957/58
FA Cup Runner Up: (1) 1956/57



Written by Condor © UNITEDLOUNGE.COM Reproducing this material, either in whole or in part, without the permission of unitedlounge.com is strictly prohibited



John Bennett

Re: Duncan Edwards

Thu Jan 03, 2008 1:26 pm

I first saw him in mixed circumstances, his début, we lost at home 4-1 to Cardiff City, just before the end of the 52/53 season

But immediately we all knew this was something special, he had a presence that I've only ever seen one other player come close to equalling, and that was Pele

He was a giant of a man, and yes at 16 he was a man, he had legs like young oaks and a barrel chest, hard as nails, yet he was the most graceful player I ever saw, he used to just glide across the pitch like a ballet dancer, he was the perfect player. Nobody could match him for skill, nobody not even Pele or George, and he was always ten steps ahead of everyone else

He only played the one game the season he made his début, but the following season he became a fixture in the first team.

He could play anywhere, originally he started off as left half, but in the second half of the season he played at inside left, he was such a joy to behold, and the passion he had for the game, and unlike today's players that passion did not equate to a stream of foul mouthed abuse at a referee

The Big Feller never back chatted a ref, he didn't back down though, not to another player, he strutted around the pitch and took care of his team mates

But there is one thing that set Duncan and his team mates apart from everyone else, although they had a confidence and self belief second to none, they remained just a bunch of ordinary lads, many of us have had an impromptu kick around with them in the Old Trafford car park. Big Dunc was the worst of the lot, if he saw a group of kids kicking a ball around, suddenly Duncan Edwards the player was gone, and out came Duncan Edwards the boy, after the disaster, many people wrote in with anecdotes of Duncan joining in a street football match, even going as far as handing over the jacket of his best suit to be used as a goal post

Duncan would always stop in the street and have a talk with people, he even stopped people himself and asked them what they thought of the match, how they thought he played, was he any good - just an ordinary lad with no airs and graces

Outside of football Duncan's only interest was music, he didn't run around chasing women or go off boozing. Off the field he was a shy and modest young lad, on the field he was larger than life

Many people say there is no such thing as the perfect footballer, or no player can produce perfection - if you want to shoot that statement down use the name Duncan Edwards - the perfect player and the perfect role model

John Bennett



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Re: Duncan Edwards

Thu Jan 10, 2008 10:36 pm

Image

Image
This is a statue that stands proud in the centre of Dudley.
Image

Image

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Re: Duncan Edwards

Thu Jan 10, 2008 10:53 pm

Oh how I wish I could've seen him play.... :(

RIP dear sir....

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Re: Duncan Edwards

Thu Jan 10, 2008 11:22 pm

Ste has always spoken so highly of Duncan, now I see why. I was so touched by these posts, thanks. :( It's amazing that he had 18 caps by the age of 21. Now he was a true role model!

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Re: Duncan Edwards

Fri Jan 11, 2008 12:02 am

I can't imagine today's players, at that age, with that skill and notice, and it shows in John's post that he was a humble man that didn't care about fame, he only was in it for the love of the game, a true role model and legend. I only wish I could get a glimpse of how he played.

R.I.P.

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Re: Duncan Edwards

Fri Jan 11, 2008 2:21 pm

Always when i think about the quote from Bobby Charlton that he felt inferior to Duncan Edwards it makes me think about the player he could have been to the world. I never saw him play but when i read about him i get the idea that he was even better than pele, maradona and Cruyff. It really saddens me when i think of the team they could have been.

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Re: Duncan Edwards

Fri Jan 11, 2008 5:07 pm

Duncan clearly had massive talent, his only footballing future would have been to go on to be the best in the world. and never beaten.


that future was deemed too fantastic. the only thing that could stop him was his tragic fate.


a fighter, a true warrior for the club.


so young, and yet he will be remembered for years after everyone else has been forgotten.


RIP.

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Re: Duncan Edwards

Fri Jan 11, 2008 9:32 pm

Heard so much about Duncan but not sure I have ever really seen any footage of him (maybe isn't much). Sounded like an amazing talent. RIP

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Re: Duncan Edwards

Fri Jan 11, 2008 9:40 pm

there are a few clips in the legends thread on him sarah
worth a look
and the video library has some too with him in it.

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Re: Duncan Edwards

Fri Jan 11, 2008 9:41 pm

Code: Select all

http://youtube.com/watch?v=VjOMWY4ZdF8#

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Re: Duncan Edwards

Fri Jan 11, 2008 9:43 pm

Code: Select all

http://youtube.com/watch?v=Mj22m5IFV6M#
there is a couple for you

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Re: Duncan Edwards

Wed Jan 16, 2008 5:35 pm

All that needs to be said about Duncan Edwards has been said,especially by John Bennett and Tom Clare.

There is a picture,in a book I have on United,of the telegram Duncan sent to his landlady Mrs Dorman,19 Gorse Ave.Stretford.
It reads...All flights cancelled.Flying tomorrow.= Duncan.

I live near Gorse Avenue and occasionally walk past the house where Duncan lodged.Close your eyes for a second and you will see him walking down the path.

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Re: Duncan Edwards

Tue Jan 22, 2008 6:16 pm

Bobby Charlton wrote:He was incomparable, I feel terrible trying to explain to people just how good he was, his death was the biggest single tragedy ever to happen to Manchester United and English football. I always felt I could compare well with any player - except Duncan. He was such a talent, I always felt inferior to him. He didn't have a fault with his game.
Bobby Charlton wrote:The only player who made me feel inferior was Duncan Edwards. If I had to play for my life and could take one man with me, it would be him
Tommy Docherty wrote:You can keep all your Bests', Peles' and Maradonas', Duncan Edwards was the greatest of them all
Jimmy Murphy wrote:When I used to hear Muhammad Ali proclaim to the world he was the greatest, I used to smile. You see, the greatest of them all was an English footballer named Duncan Edwards
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Re: Duncan Edwards

Tue Jan 22, 2008 8:54 pm

terrific quotes dante...thanks

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Re: Duncan Edwards

Fri Feb 01, 2008 8:04 pm

[quote="Angelina #9"]Here are some of the lesser-known facts about Duncan:

Molly Leach, who was Duncan's fiancee at the time of the crash, emigrated to America after he died. She married but sadly died in September 2004.

Duncan was once in trouble with the police for riding his bicycle without lights along Washway Road in Sale. He was travelling home after playing in a First Division game at Old Trafford! For this, he was fined the princely sum of 5/0d (Five Shillings)


Duncan had 2 nicknames - "The Tank" and "Boom Boom"


Duncan's mother, Sarah Anne Edwards passed away on 15th April 2003, aged 93. She is buried with her husband in a grave that is only yards away from Duncan


Duncan is buried with his sister, Carol Anne, who was 10 years his junior and died aged just 14 weeks.


There are two stained glass windows at St. Francis Church, Laurel Road, Dudley, commemorating the life of Duncan Edwards.


The father of footballing legend Duncan Edwards was a keen crown green bowler.


Duncan has a pub named after him in his home.


In October 1999, a statue, created by sculptor James Butler, commemorating Duncan Edwards was unveiled by his mother and Sir Bobby Charlton.



An exhibition based at Dudley Leisure Centre contains many of Duncan's medals, shirts and trophies.



Duncan has a place in the National Football Museum's Hall of Fame (based in Preston, Lancashire).


Found on http://www.duncan-edwards.co.uk[/quote\]I've seen the statue of Duncan and i go to the lesuire centre every wednesday and see Duncan's honours. I live near Duncan Edwards close near the lesuire centre, but i haven't seen his grave yet. There's two churchs, one close to me and the other is a bit further away from me, so i don't know which one.
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Re: Duncan Edwards

Tue Feb 05, 2008 12:06 pm

Munich remembered
Football Focus looks back
6 February 1958

by Nabil Hassan

Duncan Edwards
Edwards made his Manchester United debut at the age of 16

It is hard to describe just how good someone was, without having seen him play. All you can do is present the facts and leave the descriptions to people who know.

So when Bobby Charlton, World Cup and European Cup winner, describes someone as faultless then you start to get an idea of Duncan Edwards' greatness.

"He was my hero," Charlton told BBC Sport.

Charlton and Edwards were more than just members of the famed Busby Babes, they were best friends.

Edwards may have been just one year older than Charlton, but England's record goalscorer always felt in the shadow of his mate from Dudley.

Both were on a plane heading out of Munich on 6 February, 1958 along with the rest of the Manchester United squad following an earlier European fixture against Red Star in Belgrade.

On its third attempt to take off from an ice-covered runway Flight 609 crashed killing 23 of the 44 passengers on board.

Charlton survived the Munich air disaster, Edwards did not and with his death English football lost a truly prestigious talent.

Those who saw Edwards play say that if he had not died young, he would have gone on to become one of the all-time footballing greats, a statement supported by Charlton.

Charlton's opinion counts more than most. He played against Pele and Franz Beckenbauer. He played with George Best, Denis Law and England's World Cup winning captain Bobby Moore. But to Charlton, Edwards was king.

"Duncan was incomparable," said Charlton.

"He was such a talent, I always felt inferior to him.

"I feel terrible trying to explain to people just how good he was, his death was the biggest single tragedy ever to happen to Manchester United and English football.

"I always felt I could compare well with any player - except Duncan. He didn't have a fault with his game."

Edwards was born in Dudley on 1 October 1936. On his 16th birthday he signed for Manchester United. It is said he impressed one scout so much that he needed just 10 minutes of watching the young wing-half (defensive midfielder) to recommend him to Manchester United manager Sir Matt Busby.

Duncan Edwards
Edwards won schoolboy honours before his England debut aged 18

He made his debut against Cardiff City 185 days later but at that stage he had already represented England school-boys and was being tipped for full honours.

At the age of 18 years and 183 days he became England's youngest post-war debutant, making his first appearance for his country against Scotland, and went on to win just 18 caps, scoring five goals.

By the time he reached his 21st birthday, he had won two League championships, an FA Cup finalists medals and three FA Youth Cup winners' medals.

Edwards was adored and respected all over the world, many say that had he not died on 6 February, 1958 it would have been him who went on to captain England to World Cup glory in 1966.

Instead that honour went to Bobby Moore who paid tribute to Edwards in his autobiography before his own death in 1993: "I once played truant from school to watch Duncan play at White Hart Lane. There will never be another player like him."


There will never be another player like him

Bobby Moore - 1966 World Cup winner

According to those who played alongside and against Duncan Edwards on a football field, he was the 'complete footballer'.

He had unrivalled stamina and could have run for hours. He could shoot powerfully with either foot, was dominant in the air, was strong in the tackle, and was a superb passer of the ball.

Think of Wayne Rooney's shot, Nemanja Vidic in the air, Roy Keane's tackle and Paul Scholes' pass and then you had Edwards.

"I totally believe he was the best player I ever saw or am likely to see," said Charlton.

His style as a player was often described as unique but it was his immense physical strength coupled with superb ball control and touch. Edwards was a man in a boy's body and when he spoke others listened, commanding respect despite his young age.

Edwards had a reputation as a quiet-mannered man who shunned publicity and the limelight, he just loved playing football.

Edwards died on 21 February in a Munich hospital, 15 days after the crash, unable to recover from the multiple injuries he suffered in the accident. He was only 21.

He became the eighth member of the Busby Babes to die as a result of the crash. Tommy Taylor, Roger Byrne, David Pegg, Eddie Colman, Liam Whelan, Geoff Bent, Mark Jones the other members of the Manchester United squad to die.


Duncan Edwards was the best player I ever played with

Bobby Charlton

Five days later his body returned home to England where he was buried at a Dudley cemetery.

While it is difficult to predict how good Edwards could have been his legacy will long be debated, testament to his greatness, but for Charlton there is no argument. Edwards will always be the best.

"Duncan Edwards I unhesitatingly say was the best player I ever played with," concluded Charlton.

"I never thought I could be as good as him. Never. Never."

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Re: Duncan Edwards

Tue Feb 05, 2008 5:37 pm

An interesting fact about the stained glass windows in St.Francis Church,Dudley,which I only found out about yesterday.An appeal for donations towards the cost of the windows was made and besides United, donations were made by Brentford and Crystal Palace Football Clubs.
Their club crests are incorporated in the memorial.

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Re: Duncan Edwards

Tue Feb 05, 2008 5:46 pm

He seemed to be a very good footballer and a hard working guy. The part where they say that he amazed the doctors with his figth brougth tears to my eyes :?
"The day I came here was a privilege. The day I leave, I feel honoured." - Sir Alex Ferguson

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Re: Duncan Edwards

Tue Feb 05, 2008 6:42 pm

You just have to listen to Sir Bobby Charlton, talking about him to realize what a great player he was and what he could have achieved. As Sir Bobby was such a great player and he said " Duncan Edwards was the best player I ever played with" Considering he played with the likes of Best, Taylor, Law and so on, It's a great tribute.

TomClare

Remembering the Big Fella'

Wed Feb 20, 2008 6:28 pm

Remembering the “Big Fella”

The morning of Friday, February 21st 1958, dawned. I was just 13 years old. It was around 7:30 a.m. and I was awakened by a gentle hand shaking my shoulder. My Mum was sat on my bed as I sat up and began rubbing the sleep from my young eyes. She gave me a minute or two to so that I could become fully awake and aware, before she gently, and softly, almost whispered, the words that I never ever wanted to hear; “Son, I am so sorry, but Duncan died early this morning.”

50 years have now passed since that morning, but I can still very clearly hear my Mum’s gentle voice passing on that tragic news to me. In seconds, my world was once again shattered and the tears flowed down my young face unabatedly. It seemed so unreal, so unfair, and I couldn’t cope with what I had been told and nor did I want to believe it at all. Duncan just couldn’t die like that. He was a giant; a colossus; nothing could defeat Duncan either on the field or off it. He was immortal in my eyes and I suspect that the kids of my age at that time felt exactly the same way.

For two long weeks he had battled against the injuries which he had suffered as a result of the disaster at Munich’s Reim Airport on February 6th. His medical condition was the subject of daily news bulletins on both the radio and the television services. Some days he had improved, some days he had deteriorated, but everybody was hoping that he would pull through. There was so much optimism for his survival, and his eventual recovery as we had entered that second week after the crash. Others it seemed, like Jackie Blanchflower, Johnny Berry, Frank Taylor, and Sir Matt, had more serious injuries and it was they who were in more immediate danger than Duncan. It was their state of health that we should be more worried about – Duncan would pull through surely! If there was one person who I wanted to survive it was the big fella’.

I dressed, went downstairs, and there lying on the kitchen table was a copy of the day’s Daily Mirror. On the front page under the banner was a full sized picture of Duncan’s face and shoulders and he was wearing the white 1957 F.A. Cup Final shirt. The headline across it read; “Edwards of United Dies.” I can still see that front page even today. I went so cold and the savage gut wrenching empty feeling of pain, once again engulfed my young body. It was there before me, real, he had gone – I would never ever see him again. It broke my young heart, and even today, I get so emotional just thinking about him.

Duncan’s first class career spanned just four and a half seasons. But the impact that young man had on the game of football and what he achieved in such a short span of time, was nothing short of phenomenal. I can’t think of any other player who made the same sort of impact from such an early age as he did, and I include Di Stefano, Pele, Beckenbauer, Cruyff, Maradonna, Best, Charlton, Law, and many, many others in that assessment.

His exploits as a schoolboy footballer were just “Roy of the Rovers” stuff. He was in his school, town, and county teams, three years ahead of when he should have been. The school year of 1948-1949 was Duncan’s most hectic as a schoolboy footballer. Not only did he play for his school team, but he also represented Dudley Boys, Worcester County XI, and the England Schoolboys under14 team. Duncan just loved his football and would have played for anyone, anywhere. If there had been a game arranged on the Outer Hebrides, and transport had been available, Duncan would have gone!

There are some wonderful stories around of his school days particular In Ian McCartney and Roy Cavanagh’s book “Duncan Edwards – A Biography” His schoolmaster Mr. Meddings at Priory Road School:

“A particular match comes to mind in the Worcester County Schools Trophy. It was a very windy day at the Dudley Sports Centre, and we had the advantage of a howling gale during the first half, but we just couldn’t score. In fact most of the time was spent retrieving the ball from the car park situated behind one of the goals. At half time I told Duncan that the only way we would score against the wind, was for him to have a go on his own. This he tried from his own penalty area. At the end of this amazing run, he hit a shot which hit the goalkeeper’s legs and the ball rebounded right down the field and out of play at the other end for a goal kick to us! The final score in that game was 0-0, but we had no problems in the replay which we won 7-0.”

He later moved to Wolverhampton Street Secondary School, and it was here that he came under the influence of a certain Mr. Eric Booth who as well as being a teacher at the school, was also Secretary to the Dudley Schools Football Association. Duncan always acknowledged the huge part that this schoolmaster played in his development. Mr. Booth said;

“He was eleven at the time, captain and centre half of his school junior side, and we knew right away that we had something special. In his first year at Wolverhampton Street School, he was chosen to play for Dudley Schoolboy’s side, where he came up against boys who were fifteen years of age. For once in his life, he looked a comparative midget alongside them, but he was still such a wonderful, outstanding player for his age. Although he had been playing at centre half, we played him at outside left, to keep him out of trouble, and the rough stuff in the middle of the park. We were also a little afraid in case Duncan would be a little overawed, but then - and throughout his footballing life - he never, ever showed any sign of nerves.

Coaching sessions were such that he would pick up in an instant on a new skill - trapping with the outside of the foot, or with the chest etc. I would then send him across to half the team and let him coach them, while I took the other half!

I had seen Duncan play in different positions all over the pitch, and as we had developed his left foot sufficiently, we decided to get him more into the game. So, we began to play him as inside left, and then moved him across to right half. Then the funniest thing happened. I recommended Duncan for an England under-14 International trial at Oldham Athletic’s Boundary Park, and we were actually surprised when he was selected to take part, because you have to remember that he was still only twelve years old! We were even more surprised when he was selected to play in the trial at centre forward! However, he had such a good game that he was selected to play against Ireland!?

Duncan however, almost didn’t take part in that International trial, due to something very much unconnected with football, and something that you would never associate with him with - Morris Sword and Folk Dancing! He was due to have taken part in a National Festival at Derby, being a star member of his school’s team, and having already competed in the Leamington and Birmingham Festivals. However, Duncan decided that football was his true love, and he went on to Oldham and his subsequent selection for the England Schoolboys. So on Saturday, May 6th 1950 aged just 13 years, Duncan pulled on the white shirt of England for the first time at Boundary Park, Oldham. Looking through the programme for that Schoolboy match against Ireland, it is interesting to note Duncan’s team mates on the left hand side of the forward line. They were Ray Parry of Derby Schools, and David Pegg of Doncaster Schools, who were both to figure in the career of Duncan Edwards, in later years.

Season 1950-51 brought Duncan further representative honours for the England under-14 side and also a step up to the under-15 side, with the highlight of his career so far coming on Saturday, April 7th 1951 at aged just 14. That was the day that Duncan was selected to play for England Schoolboys at Wembley against the Welsh Schoolboys, at left half. The programme for that game contained a piece which could have been a direct reference to Duncan. On page four, it read ….”Big Boys for schoolboys you’ll say as you watch them walk out from the Olympic tunnel at the far end of the Stadium. Look at their heights and weights on our ”Pen Pictures” page. Yet every player on the field today has been closely scrutinized from the age angle. Each one is still attending school and was under 15 years of age on August 31st last.” Duncan’s pen-picture read as follows ....”Duncan Edwards (Wolverhampton Street Secondary Modern School, Dudley), left half, Captain of Worcestershire County S.F.A. Selected to represent Birmingham and District S.F.A. Age, 14 years and 6 months. Height 5’ 9” Weight 10 st.12 lbs” He was a year younger than the rest of his team mates, but equal if not superior to them in height and weight.

The dreams of Wembley Stadium acted out on the waste grounds and parks of Dudley, had now been realized. Now settled in the left half spot, Season 1951-52 brought Duncan the ultimate honour of England Schoolboy Captain, with matches against Wales, Scotland (twice) and an appearance at Dalymount Park, in Dublin, against Eire schoolboys.

During his three seasons as an England Schoolboy International, he had accumulated nine caps, which was a record for an England Schoolboy. He was also the first Dudley schoolboy to win International recognition in more than forty years. Naturally, he was under the spotlight of all the leading clubs, and of course he did live on the doorstep of such famous named clubs as Aston Villa, Birmingham City, West Bromwich Albion, and Wolverhampton Wanderers. Two other clubs, both Lancashire rivals, were also alerted this youngster who potentially was going to be even better than John Charles. They were Bolton Wanderers and Manchester United.”

There was never any doubt as to what Duncan Edwards was going to be once he had left his school days behind him. So many club scouts ploughed a furrow to the Edwards household on the Priory Estate in “ Dood –lie” in the West Midlands, as Duncan in his Black Country brogue, used to call his home town. There was only ever one club that he was going to sign for though, much to the chagrin of Stan Cullis at Wolves, and Bill Ridding at Bolton Wanderers, and that club was Manchester United. He had admired what was going on at Old Trafford and wanted to be part of it as he thought that was the place where youngsters would truly be given the chance to make the grade in the professional game.

Again, quoting from McCartney and Cavanagh’s book:

“On the 16th August 1952, Duncan took to the famous Old Trafford playing field for the first time in the Club's junior public practice match, which took place before the senior game. Played in real cricket weather, an appreciative crowd saw the 'Reds' with Edwards at number 6, beat the "Blues" 5-0, and a young man called Bradshaw scored a hat-trick. (I wonder whatever happened to him!!)

Some other members of the winning side were Gordon Clayton in goal, Geof Bent at left back, Ronnie Cope at centre half, and David Pegg at outside left. Playing opposite for the "Blues" were Albert Scanlon at outside left, and a young Salford schoolboy who came on in the second half as a substitute, Eddie Colman. Duncan was selected for the Colts the following week for his first competitive League appearance, playing against Heywood St. James in the Manchester Amateur League at the Cliff training ground. Another encouraging display helped United to a 6-1 victory, and further victories in the following two matches, quickly earned Duncan a place in the "A" team. The fixture was at Leek against the local team, Ball Haye Green, with Billy Foulkes, Albert Scanlon, and former Club Secretary, Les Olive, all in the same United team who ran out 4-3 victors. Les Olive, incidentally, turned out at outside right in this match, just one of the many playing positions he filled for Manchester United including, like Johnny Carey, even goalkeeper for the First Team in later years.

Duncan's fixture list contained matches against varying teams as Ferranti, and Walkden Yard, who included hardened players looking to give young aspiring footballers a quick lesson in the playing fields of life. His first reverse in a Manchester United side came in October, and this in his first competitive cup match. Adelphi Lads club, traditionally a very strong Salford side, beating the Colts 2-1 in the Arthur Petitt Cup.

Having joined Manchester United along with many other top class youngsters, Duncan was somewhat fortunate in that his first season was also the first of a new competition for Under 18's, The F.A. Youth Challenge Cup. The original idea even had the Final earmarked for Wembley Stadium, but the earlier rounds were played in the slightly quieter surroundings of the Cliff training ground in Salford, and Leeds United presented the very first opposition. Edwards was made Captain of the Youth team which won their first ever match in that competition against Leeds United 4-0, with one of the goals being a spectacular own-goal by a certain Jackie Charlton! Victory was rewarded with a further home tie against Non-League Nantwich Town, with United recording, what is still today the highest ever score in that competition - 23-0! Both Edwards and David Pegg scored 5 each, and Duncan’s goals being his first in a Manchester United shirt. A 2-0 victory over Bury at Old Trafford in late November quickly installed United as one of the Youth Cup favourites and also earned Duncan recognition by the Lancashire County F.A. appearing as an inside forward.

A week after Bury Youth were defeated, the National press became aware of the talents belonging to the young Duncan Edwards, when a reporter from the Manchester Guardian (going under the initials of P.W.T.) reported on a match between a United XI and Northern Nomads on December 3rd. The match was played under floodlights at the Cliff training ground and resulted in a 4-3 win for Nomads, but the scribe from the Guardian was correct in his assertions of Duncan. In his report he wrote; 'The encouraging thing about the game was that it showed a player of real promise in Edwards, aged just 16. He is remarkably fast, and tackled well, but best of all shot with real power in either foot. Even Rowley would not have criticized several of Edwards' drives for strength and direction.'

During that game, Duncan also showed two thousand-odd spectators that he was capable of playing in more than one position, when he switched from left half to inside right with the ease of a veteran. Although he failed to score in that particular match, he did come close on several occasions, the readers of the Manchester Guardian were made aware of the special talent unfolding at Old Trafford.

Burnley became the first side to face a Central League side which included Duncan Edwards, on December 6th with a further appearance the week after against Preston North End. On the same day at the other end of the East Lancs Road, another of the 'find them young' policy was making his full team debut at Liverpool. The debutante went on to become a regular first team colleague of Duncan's, he was Billy Foulkes, a twenty years old full back. Only a week before two others had made their league bow. Their names were John Doherty and David Pegg, both were just seventeen years of age.

Back to the F.A. Youth Cup. Everton were the visitors on 4th February to Old Trafford for a Wednesday afternoon, 2.30p.m. kick-off, still pre-floodlighting of course. United won 1-0 despite being without Eddie Lewis and David Pegg, both of whom were required for the First Team’s F.A. Cup replay with Non-League Walthamstow Avenue, played at Arsenal's Highbury Stadium. Three days after his Youth match, Edwards scored in United's 2-1 Central league defeat at Wolverhampton Wanderers, which must have been some consolation on his return to the West Midlands.

With his Championship side of 1952 off the pace at the top of Division One, and also suffering a 5th round F.A. Cup defeat at Everton, Manager Matt Busby moved to strengthen his hand early in March 1953, by signing centre forward Tommy Taylor from Barnsley. Two weeks later, Barnsley were linked to Manchester United with the appearance of their Youth side at Old Trafford for a tie which attracted a crowd of 12,400, with incidentally, only 7,406 watching Barnsley’s First team playing Birmingham City at Oakwell on the same day in a Division two match. Edwards, McFarlane, and Scanlon, scored United’s goals in a 3-1 Youth team victory, which took them through to the semi-final and a two-legged tie with Brentford.

However, on 4th April 1953 the Saturday before the first leg was due to be played, Duncan found himself called upon for his Football league debut at the tender age of just 16 years and 185 days of age. Jackie Blanchflower had been injured the day before, and with Henry Cockburn also on the injured list, it was up to Duncan to step in and fill the gap. The match was at Old Trafford and United's opponents were Cardiff City, who were making their first appearance at the ground since October 1928. The Welsh club surprisingly won 4-1, but the result is of little importance to our story.

Duncan himself recalled that first team call-up from Matt Busby, “The thought of making my Football League debut was not terrifying after having twice played at Wembley before I was 15. On leaving school I did not have to face the difficulty of finding a job, like some youngsters, as football was my future. I thought my future would be better away from the Midlands. United had a great reputation for giving plenty of opportunities to young players, and treating them in the best possible manner. The first time that I walked into the dressing room to meet other players I wondered if I was in the right place as there was so many youngsters there. I found it very easy to settle down and make friends. I went round one Friday morning and was called to Matt Busby's office. He quietly told me that I was selected for the First team. All I could think about was letting my parents know the news.”

Alf Clarke of the Manchester Evening Chronicle, and also a contributor to the United Review the official programme of Manchester United, had witnessed a brilliant display from Duncan in the defeat of Ashton United in the Gilchryst Cup Final at the Cliff the previous Wednesday and he was present to witness Edwards’ debut against Cardiff. In the Evening Chronicle’s Saturday "Pink" he wrote: 'The only ray of sunshine that filtered through the United gloom was the display of the boy debutante Duncan Edwards, who did all that was asked of him, including taking a shot from 30 yards that was only just wide." These words of praise were alongside an action picture of the debutante on the front page, while more encouraging words were written in the match report on the centre pages. In his report, Clarke continued; “Edwards had the right ideas when he tried another long range effort and was instrumental in setting United on the move with a glorious pass up the middle arising from which Berry forced a corner.” This was just in the opening minutes of the second half and Duncan went from strength to strength.

P.W.T. of the Manchester Guardian who had first brought the name of Duncan Edwards to the attention of the National Sports pages in his match report versus the Nomads, wrote of Duncan on his debut, “He had the misfortune for this to be his first senior game. He showed promise of fine ability in passing and shooting but will have to move faster as a wing half. However, he cannot be judged on this match.”

Sportswriter Frank Taylor of the News Chronicle was another who witnessed the debut of Duncan that Saturday. He readily agreed with his fellow journalists that he looked a wonderful prospect, but looked a bit thick around the hips. Luckily, Duncan's size and weight were to be of no hindrance to him in the future, and he trained as hard as anyone which helped him develop an excellent physique. The final words on Duncan’s entry into the Football league rests with Johnny Carey who said in the Sunday Chronicle the day after the match; “He's a good 'un, the best I’ve seen for his age.”

The semi-final Youth Cup tie against Brentford at Griffin Park ended with United having a 2-1 advantage to take into the second leg at Old Trafford. In that second leg, a place in the first ever Final was assured as United Youths crushed their southern opponents 6-0. Wolverhampton Wanderers were the team that stood between United and the distinction of being the first ever winners. On 4th May, the teams faced each other at Old Trafford in the first leg. Like so many teams before them, the young Wolves were no match for the free-scoring United lads and they lost 7-1. Although Duncan did not get on the scoresheet, he gave a polished performance and helped his team mates to victory. The United goals in that memorable victory came from McFarlane 2, Lewis 2, Whelan, Pegg and Scanlon, the complete forward line. By the way, Billy Whelan was signed from Ireland to replace the injured John Doherty just before this match. At Molineux in the return leg, the Wanderers put up a much better show and obtained a creditable 2-2 draw. This gave United an aggregate 9-3 victory, and most importantly, became first ever winners of the F.A. Youth Challenge Trophy!

All three Manchester United junior sides won their respective leagues that season, a season which saw Duncan Edwards rise from the lowest junior side to the First Division!!”

The rest of course is history, and you can see just why this young boy was so idolized by his contemporaries of that time. He was so unassuming and shunned the limelight. This was a kid who by the time he was 18, had become a full international player and had played at every international level below that. Back then it was unheard of. There was no ego about the lad, and whenever the pressmen made a bee line for him he would just shoo them away and tell them that it was the other players that they really needed to speak to. I personally recall a time when he left the stadium by the old ticket office door and was accompanied by the late Henry Rose, the reporter from the Daily Express. As Duncan stood there with that old bike propped against his leg as he was want to do, signing away for all the kids, he was in conversation with Henry. The line I will always remember is; “doesn’t matter how good you are Henry, it’s what you’ve got in the bank at the end of your career that counts”. He was just 17 years old at the time, but so mature in his outlook. Henry’s face was a picture!

His appetite for the game was so infectious and he just couldn’t play enough. In 1956 during his National Service days it is recorded that he played somewhere around 107 matches in the year! He just loved to play at whatever level that the game was. He would give the same determination, concentration, and will to win, be it in a junior game or full international – playing the game was his all.

He endeared himself not only to Manchester United fans, but also to the fans throughout the country and Europe. In all the years that I have lived, I have never ever heard or read a single bad word about Duncan Edwards. He was never in the news for the wrong reasons and even though he was such a huge star, he kept a very low profile. He was the epitome of the perfect athlete, the perfect player, the perfect human being. I know it’s hard for people today to acknowledge just how good he was. The words “World Class”, “Legend” etc., are all to freely bestowed upon players these days. But there are just no superlatives that can describe the lad enough for me. Most of the so called “great players” in the recent past have all been forwards – but how many of them could do what Edwards could do? He could play anywhere, and still have the biggest impact upon a game. At the back, in midfield or up front. Believe me, Duncan had it all, and in abundance. As Jimmy Murphy told Sir Matt Busby just a few short weeks after Duncan had joined United; “Matt, there is nothing at all I can coach into this kid – he’s got the lot!” You just couldn’t get any higher praise than that – especially when you consider just what a hard taskmaster Jimmy Murphy was.

50 years have passed since that sad February morning when he left us. I blink my eyes and can still see him, hear him shouting to his team mates. Still see him covering every blade of grass on the pitch. Still see that steely determination inside of him, that never say die spirit. But I also remember the gentleness of the giant. The time that he had for the kids, the boyishness of the young man that he became and the wonderful human being whose battered frame finally succumbed in the early hours of February 21st 1958.

Just as with those other dear boys, I still miss him as though he was one of my own. He left us with such wonderful memories and I just wish that some of today’s highly paid, and over rated so-called stars, would take a leaf out of the big fella’s book and find just a small percentage of the love of the game and of people that that dear boy had.

Sleep on in peace dear Dunc’ – your place in our great club’s history is assured and your legend and memory will never ever be allowed to fade

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Goku
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Re: Duncan Edwards

Thu Feb 21, 2008 10:07 am

Today 50 year ago, 21 February 1958, Duncan Edwards passed away after a long battle to from end stage renal failure. It truley must have been sad for everybody, because it was like losing Duncan twice.

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Philip
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Re: Duncan Edwards

Thu Feb 21, 2008 11:35 am

Yes Goku 50 years today Duncan sadly passed away,here in the west midlands we always call him "our Duncan"

RIP OUR DUNCAN

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babysenorita
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Re: Duncan Edwards

Thu Feb 21, 2008 12:30 pm

"There was only one Duncan Edwards - and there will never be another."
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"A Day of Memory, Sad to Recall. Without Farewell, He Left Us All."
Least we forget - RIP.

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MobileNanny
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Re: Duncan Edwards

Tue Jul 08, 2008 7:52 pm

My great niece was born on the 50th anniversary of Duncan's death. And boy, oh boy, is she going to know it when she's older!

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