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Sir Matt Busby

Sat Dec 15, 2007 1:55 am

Sir Matt Busby

If you are a Manchester United fan today, you owe this man and his legacy a huge big thank you. Matt Busby was the man who created a dynasty in Manchester United and transformed it into a world famous football club. He introduced the club's footballing ideology, its renown attacking playing style and ethical philosophy.

Matt Busby was born on May 26th, 1909 in the small mining village of Orbiston in Lanarkshire, Scotland. He played half-back for United's bitter rivals Manchester City from 1929 to 1936 winning an FA Cup Winner's medal in 1934 and United's other archrivals Liverpool from 1936 to 1939. His playing career was cut short, making just one Scottish cap, by the second World War, in which he served in the Army Physical Training Corps.

In 1945, at the age of 36, he turned down a job offer to coach Liverpool. Instead, he accepted the post as manager of Manchester United. He accepted a challenge.
Manchester United was in turmoil. Old Trafford had been heavily damaged in the air raid blitz from 1940-42 and the team he inherited was ageing and poor, having had no success for 34 years, since 1911, and hovering above the relegation zone in Division One. Manchester United may have been a club with potential, but were notorious under-achievers and had little or no support outside of the city of Manchester.

Matt Busby addressed that. He believed in free-flowing attacking football and wanted his teams to be successful but also to thrill the crowd at the same time. His revolutionary approach formed the basis of United's philosophy and playing style through to the present day.

From 1945 to 48, United played at rival City's Maine Road ground due to the bomb damage at Old Trafford. In 1946, Matt Busby introduced a new policy of youth development, creating a scouting system that attracted some young players with fantastic potential. By combining the early youth players with astute buying, Matt Busby first tasted success with the 1948 FA Cup victory over Blackpool. The basis of that side went on to win the League Championship in 1952 playing flowing football with flair unseen in Britain at that time.

Unlike the office resident, 3-piece suit wearing managers of his era, Matt Busby was a hands-on, modern style of management. He wore track-suits and coached his own players on the training pitch. This enabled him to instill his ideas and methodology directly to the players.

Unwilling to allow his team to stagnate Busby made drastic and ruthless changes to his playing staff following the 1952 championship win. Many of the household names of the past few years were replaced with some exciting but totally unknown young players. It became perhaps one of the milestones in United history as the Busby youth system produced a team of young hungry, homebred players that the world would come to know as the Busby Babes.

With his young talents like Bobby Charlton, Duncan Edwards, Dennis Viollet, Tommy Taylor and many others, United went on to win back-to-back titles in 1956 and 1957. The dynasty was flourishing, but destiny was yet to play it's cards.

Despite strong FA and Football League objections, with threats of legal action, the visionary Matt Busby took United into European competition in the European Cup.

While returning home from a European Cup game against Red Star Belgrade in 1958, the team airplane crashed at Munich, killing eight of the players and severely injuring others who would not play football at this level again. Matt Busby himself was seriously injured and fought for life in hospital for many weeks; his life expectancy was very low.

The great, youthful, Busby Babes were gone with still so much to achieve and so the entire world became aware of Manchester United.

Matt Busby recovered, yet doubted in his own mind that he had the desire to carry on.
Carry on he did and, within 12 months, he set about creating the third great United team.

With Munich survivor Bobby Charlton, signings like Pat Crerand and Denis Law, and new youth players like Kidd and Best amongst others, United returned winning the FA Cup in 1963 and two League titles in 1965 and 1967. They played Busby football as the Babes had before with style, attacking flair and genius and attracted a new legion of fans and the imagination of football fans the world over.

On May 29th 1968, the most successful, but arguable not the most gifted, of his three United sides won the European Cup for the first time. The nation, and most of the TV watching world was behind United that night, with the memories of 1958 willing on United to defeat Benfica 4-1.

Queen Elizabeth II Knighted Matt Busby in 1968 and having achieved his goal, retired from Manchester United as manager in 1969. He 'moved upstairs' and took up the role of General Manager. In 1970, Busby returned the managers seat as a temporary appointment following the sacking of Frank O'Farrell. In 1971, Sir Matt was appointed to the United board. In 1982, Sir Matt Busby was appointed Club President for life and held high positions in the Football League management committee.

Lean years followed with various managers and only a handful of FA cup successes. In 1986, Alex Ferguson re-introduced the Busby philosophy for youth development and with it United won it's first Championship for 26years (the inaugural Premiership), in 1993. Sir Matt took great pleasure in presiding over Ferguson's revival in which United played with the same style and flair he himself loved in his own teams. It was fitting that Sir Matt Busby proudly celebrated that achievement in the director's box as the faithful crowd hailed his name.

Less than a year later, on the 20th January 1994, Busby died aged 85.

The legacy of Sir Matt Busby is that he provided the foundation, the philosophy, the style and the passion that turned an ordinary and local football club, into the most famous, glamorous, and now richest and biggest club in the world.

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Re: Sir Matt Busby

Tue Dec 18, 2007 12:35 am

God Bless You Condor............I hope everyone visits this Legends section. As a youngster, I read as much as I could about Manchester United. I remember writing to the club when Sir Matt was ill once, wishing him well, and I got a reply thanking me for my well wishes. That was my most prized possession back then. Still have it somewhere. I remember buying all the football magazines to read anything I could get hold of to read about this great club.

Keep up the good work mate (Y)


Re: Sir Matt Busby

Wed Dec 26, 2007 7:44 pm

Thanks big man (Y)

Full Name Alexander Matthew Busby
Date of Birth 26th May 1909
Place of Birth Orbiston, Glasgow
United under Busby: 1945-1969
and 1970-1971

League P W D L
924 481 162 281

FA Cup P W D L
98 61 17 20

Europe P W D L
58 35 11 12

Honours won for United

1968 European Cup
1967 1st Div League Championship
1965 1st Div League Championship
1963 F.A. Cup
1957 1st Div League Championship
1956 1st Div League Championship
1952 1st Div League Championship
1948 F.A. Cup

At the back of Old Trafford's East Stand stands a statue of Sir Matt Busby. Many who pass by it on match-day probably do not realise that without him they wouldn't be there. They'd be most likely supporting some other football team. Sir Alex Ferguson's success has made Manchester United the Goliath of world football that it is today but it was built upon Busby's legendary foundations.

For, Busby is the man who made Manchester United a world famous name way back in the 1950's. He established the club's footballing ideology, its playing style and philosophy, while in the process building two of English football's most famous ever teams.

Born in Orbiston, Lanarkshire, Busby was a legend hewn from the same rock as those other Scottish managerial legends Bill Shankly, Jock Stein and of course, Sir Alex Ferguson.

As a player he was a half-back who won one international cap for Scotland in 1933 and an FA Cup Winner's medal for Manchester City in the following year. Ironically Busby played for United's bitter rivals Manchester City from 1929 to 1936 and for Liverpool from 1936 to 1939. His playing career was cut short by the outbreak of war, in which he served in the Army Physical Training Corps.

In 1945 at the young age of 36, he was offered a job on the coaching staff at Anfield. Luckily he turned it down and accepted the post as manager of Manchester United. It was a daunting task as the club were in disarray. Old Trafford had been heavily damaged in the blitz of World War 2 and the team was poor, 14th in Division One and had achieved little success in the previous 15 years.

It's fair to say, Manchester United then, were like the present-day Sheffield Wednesday or Man City. A big northern club with potential, but under-achievers and not really supported or renowned outside of their own city. United had not won a trophy since 1911, a gap of 34 years. Arsenal were undeniably the biggest club in England following their four League title wins in the 1930s.

Busby's First Great Team
Busby set about changing that. The Scotsman believed in attacking free-flowing football, he wanted his teams to not only be successful but to excite the crowd as well. This approach would form the basis of United's playing style through to the present day.

The team played at Maine Road for his first 3 years as Old Trafford had been bombed out in the war. While the stadium was being rebuilt so was the team for in 1947 a large youth policy was organised and the scouting system was expanded and reorganised. By skilful planning and wise buying Busby created a team that made it to the 1948 FA Cup Final and defeated Blackpool 4-2.

Playing were the first of the pre-war United greats, Carey, Mitten, Pearson and Rowley. From this success, after being runners-up for years, United went on to win the League Championship in 1952 scoring bucket-loads of goals along the way.

Busby The Man
Unlike his pre WWII predecessor Scott Duncan and a lot of managers of the era, Busby was very much a hands-on, modern style of management. He preferred to wear a track-suit and to coach his players on the training pitch, that way he could get his idea's directly across to his players.

The image of Busby is very often that of a kindly grandfather figure who preferred his assistant, Jimmy Murphy to do the disciplining. The truth is that Busby used this image in public but in private he could be as ruthless as any.

It would be naive to to think someone without some degree of steel could win as much in the cut-throat world of football. Unlike many, he was not an advocate of improved player power with better contracts and wages. While he tolerated the wayward genius of George Best he punished other players harshly, such as Charlie Mitten, for stepping out of line and undermining his managerial authority.

The Busby Babes And Munich
Following the 1952 season's success Busby felt his team had lost its edge, the fire and flair had gone. To remedy this he made a drastic and famous decision by replacing most of his first team players with bright exciting young players: the legendary Busby Babes were born.

A team of mainly youngsters took the league by storm and brought a breath of optimistic fresh air to austere post-war England. With such talents as Bobby Charlton, Duncan Edwards, Eddie Colman, Dennis Viollet, Tommy Taylor, Bill Foulkes and Jackie Blanchflower, they were exciting, brilliant and devastating. Two League titles followed in 1956, and 1957, and the visionary Busby entered United into the European Champions Cup.

As the first English club to do so, Busby rightly saw European competition as the future of club football and defied the League's opposition. It was a vision not shared by the narrow minded Football authorities at the time. They gave United no help in fixture arrangements meaning the team was frequently rushing back from European games with little preparation.

After returning home from a Euro game against Red Star Belgrade in 1958 tragedy struck when the team plane crashed on a Munich airfield killing many of the aircraft's passengers, including eight of the players and severely injuring Busby. The team that were champions of England for the past two season had been almost entirely wiped out.

The Busby Babes were gone and the world was robbed of players like Edwards and Taylor forever. The tragedy had a profound effect upon the British people. Munich became not a Manchester United disaster but a national disaster. In this less cynical age, a huge wave of sympathy and support welled up for United. Fans from all over the world now knew of the great team from Manchester that was wiped out. People who had merely followed the results of their team felt drawn to the club, those who had never followed them before, now had a special place in their hearts for United.

Busby Returns To Conquer Europe
Busby, after first doubting he could carry on, recovered from his injuries and set about creating the third great and greatest of all sides. The one that would do what his babes never did. Again his youth policy was established and United uncovered the talents of Stiles, Brennan, Kidd and the genial George Best.

Together with Munich survivor Bobby Charlton, signings Crerand and Denis Law, United were soon back at the top winning the FA Cup in 1963 and two League titles in 1965 and 67. Playing as the babes before, with style, genius, flair and attacking brilliance, the 60s United of Charlton, Best and Law captured a whole new legion of fans and the imagination of football fans the world over.

The 1967 win gave Busby probably one last crack at his "holy grail" and on May 29th 1968, the greatest of his three United sides won the European Cup defeating Benfica 4-1. The entire nation was behind United on that night, people wanted them to win it for those lost in Munich. This was Busby's greatest achievement, the first English side to win the trophy, so exorcising the ghosts of Munich, now Manchester United had become a national institution.

Busby was knighted in 1968 and having achieved his goal, retired from Manchester United as manager in 1969. He still maintained a role at Old Trafford as general manager and this would effect his successor. Aged only 31, Wilf McGuinness was appointed in April 1969 but the Scottish legend's shadow loomed large over him. Sadly McGuinness was a dismal failure and the board made Busby take charge again in December 1970 to steer the club from the relegation situation it found itself in.

In June 1971 Busby handed over power to Frank O'Farrell and took up a position on the United board. Sir Matt was always going to be a hard act to follow. His immediate successors were always in his shadow and simply could not live up to the high standards he set. As the stars of the Sixties retired or moved on they were not adequately replaced, plus the mercurial George Best desperately needed Busby's fatherly influence to curb his rebellious instincts.

The club went into sharp decline and relegation followed in 1974. Only 6 years after their greatest moment the Reds were at their lowest point since the 1930s. Eventually United got back to winning ways but no-one could come close to Busby's achievements until 1986 when another canny Scot called Alex Ferguson came south of the border. Busby went on to become United's club president in 1982 and also had a high position in the Football League management committee.

My Conclusion
On the 20th January 1994 Busby died aged 85, but he lived long enough to see the red empire he created in safe hands. He had taken great pleasure in presiding over Ferguson's revival in which United played with the style and flair he had loved in his own teams. United were the best in the land once again and 5 years later, on his birthday in 1999 they would better his achievement of 1968 and win the Treble of European Cup, FA Cup and Premier League title.

The legacy of Busby is that he provided the foundation, philosophy, style and passion that turned a once ordinary club from the grim industrial North of England, into today the most famous, glamorous, richest and now undoubtedly biggest team in the world. Sir Matt Busby created the Manchester United legend and in doing so, has himself became a legend forever in footballing history.

Busby Trivia
Busby was born in a two-roomed pitman's cottage in the mining village of Orbiston. The village has since been absorbed by the larger town of Bellshill.

His family is partially Eastern European Jewish in origin. His father and all his uncles were killed in World War I.

Known to all as Matt, his first name was in fact Alexander - meaning both Manchester United's greatest ever manager's share the same Christian name.

As a player Busby joined Liverpool for £8,000 from Manchester City in March 1936 and was immediately made captain.

He was mentioned in a line in the Beatles song, "Dig It".

Sir Matt did not buy any players between 1953-57. Before Munich, he bought only 16 players and 4 of those were goalkeepers.

At Munich, Busby was so severely injured that doctors gave him little chance of recovery. He was twice given last rites.

As well as the Knighthood from the Queen in 1968, Busby (who was very religious) was made a Knight Commander of St Gregory in 1972. This is one of the highest civil honours in the Roman Catholic church.

In 1958 Busby persuaded wealthy local butcher Louis Edwards to invest his money in the club. By 1964 Edwards was chairman and his family held power at Old Trafford until 2000.

Sir Matt's seat in the Old Trafford directors box remained un-used for many years after his death until his son Sandy decided in 2002 that it should be made available again.

On retirement, the Edwards family gave Busby the proceeds of the United Souvenir shop as a pension fund. This arrangement ended when the club became a PLC in 1991.

The nickname "The Red Devils" was started by Busby. In the early 1960's Salford Rugby club were known as "The Red Devils" but Sir Matt liked the sound of it and adopted it for Manchester United.

In 1993 Warwick Road North was renamed Sir Matt Busby Way in his honour.

The Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year Award is a prestigious honour in which the fans vote for their favourite United player that season. Eric Cantona, David Beckham, Roy Keane and Ruud van Nistelrooy are past winners with Gabriel Heinze the current holder.

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Re: Sir Matt Busby

Fri Dec 28, 2007 9:27 am

i agree that all utd fans should read this..........its like reading on the founding father of your country..........he didn't start the club but he has a huge hand in making it the biggest and the best club in the world............his youth system idea.....the flair with which we played.......having the best players in the cluv...we'll always be grateful for that and also for Sir Alex for taking the same road......well at least early on........

"I play to fight.....the idea of losing" - Le King Eric Cantona

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Re: Sir Matt Busby

Fri Dec 28, 2007 12:34 pm

Reading it again is simply inspiring.

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Re: Sir Matt Busby

Fri Dec 28, 2007 1:26 pm

There's somebody else who owes Matt a great debt - Liverpool

When Bill Shankly took over there, it was Matt who told him to take the job, he was always on the Phone to him for advice, and Shanks talked quite openly about the immense friendship they had. Matt tipped off Bill about Peter Thompson and also told him to go and get Roger Hunt and Ian St John

In Phil Chisnals book he said about being in Shanks office when Matt rang up, he reckoned it was the first time he saw the Jimmy Cagney character fall away from Shankly and he suddenly started acting like someone's kid brother

He was such a great ambassador, that's why when united fell on such bad times in the 70s we got a lot more sympathetic treatment from the media - it was Matt who built those bridges

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Re: Sir Matt Busby

Thu Jan 17, 2008 4:21 pm

I find a next video, that can give us an idea how Sir Matt Busby is remembered by archrivals Liverpool.
I though that it was a good idea to post it in this topic.

Code: Select all


Manchester United Football Club | Sporting Clube de Portugal

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Re: Sir Matt Busby

Thu Jan 17, 2008 4:51 pm

Xico wrote:I find a next video, that can give us an idea how Sir Matt Busby is remembered by archrivals Liverpool.
I though that it was a good idea to post it in this topic.

Code: Select all

just watched it, good one mate.

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