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Last Updated: Wednesday, 6 February 2008, 04:05 GMT
Munich crash: Survivors' memories
A mural of the 1958 Manchester United line up outside Old Trafford

Fifty years after the Munich air disaster, Sir Bobby Charlton and Albert Scanlon share their memories of the crash that killed eight of their Manchester United team-mates.

On 6 February 1958, the plane that was carrying the Busby Babes back from Belgrade crashed in a blizzard after re-fuelling at Munich airport.

Twenty-three people died - the young players, eight newspaper journalists and seven members of backroom staff.

Star striker Sir Bobby escaped with minor head injuries, but Albert Scanlon remained unconscious for three weeks.


What I can remember is that we were so happy because we'd qualified in a really hard round.
Sir Bobby Charlton
Sir Bobby escaped with head injuries

On the way back we stopped at Munich to refuel.

We went onto the aircraft, it went down the runway and I assumed it just wasn't going fast enough, so they stopped and said we had to go back.

We went down a second time and the same thing happened.

The third time, I think everyone was concerned maybe a little bit.

There was a bit of snow on the runway and the plane didn't get into the air. Then I saw us hit the perimeter fence.

I don't remember anything 'til afterwards.

I think about it a lot, I think about how lucky I've been and how unlucky they were.

It was an enormous accident, it was dreadful and it took a long time for the club to recover.

Sir Bobby Charlton
He went on to help England win the World Cup in 1966
But I remember Matt Busby saying it will take five years before I can think about maybe winning anything again.

And it was almost five years to the day that we won the FA cup.

It galvanised the fans - the fans would never ever think about supporting anyone else - which in the old days they used to do.

It made our fans that bit more passionate.

They wanted Man United to be the best, and they expected us to be the best, and that has continued.

I wanted to make this occasion fit in for the players that didn't come back, because they were good enough to be the best, long before we won the championship in 1968.

They were the best, they would have won it long before that.

If that team was playing now, we would have been doing exactly what we're doing now.

We would have been near the top of the league, and we would have been fighting to win the league every year.


I remember the three attempts at take-off. I remember what happened in the plane. I remember who I spoke to, and then that was it.

Albert Scanlon
Albert Scanlon spent weeks in plaster
Next I remember waking up, looking a doctor, and he said it was nearly three weeks since I arrived in the hospital, and I'd never seen him.

You knew people were alive, but you didn't know who or how many. I think it was a month before we found out who was alive.

People keep telling you, 'everybody's upstairs', so you are expecting that the next time you see somebody, they're upstairs. But it didn't work like that.

I found out from a Catholic priest, Father O'Hagan, and he sat me down one day and told me.

I was in plaster from my neck to my thigh, I had my right leg in plaster, my right arm in plaster, me left arm in plaster, it was quite an experience.

I think it's fairly hard. The experience is, they could be telling me lies, because you don't see anybody.

If somebody says to you, Roger Byrne is dead, then you say yeah, but until you see Roger Byrne's family, and they tell you, you don't believe it.

Albert Scanlon
Mr Scanlon was told of the fatalities by a priest
We was getting help off the American forces. They sent three Irish girls, and a trunk full of cigarettes and books and sweets.

A week later the British forces done it. We were like little kings in that hospital.

Anybody wanted a cigarette, they come to us - that was the currency in hospital. That was our compensation.

After two months, I came out of hospital in a snowstorm, in a pair of slippers, with my pants cut up to my thighs.

I was glad to get out of the hospital - there was only four of us left, and I was the last one on my floor.

All I wanted to do was get home.

Wayne Rooney and Gary Neville on Munich

Football to honour Munich victims
06 Feb 08 |  Football
Manchester - a city 'United in grief'
06 Feb 08 |  Manchester
'Busby Babes will live on forever'
06 Feb 08 |  Manchester
Waiting for news from Munich
04 Feb 08 |  Magazine


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