When the plane carrying the Manchester United football team failed in a second attempt to take off from an ice bound airport in Munich on 6th February 1958, the legend of the Busby Babes and indeed of the club itself were born. In all 23 people died and many others were injured. Bobby Charlton survived and he and Harry Gregg were the only ex-players from that team who went to the anniversary service on Tuesday this week.
As a football mad nine year old I remember shedding tears when some days after the crash my hero Duncan Edwards died of his injuries. He was a young superstar who never grew old, with such potential that people still reckon he might have been the greatest player of all time.
Unlike today’s football heroes, Edwards lived with a landlady and her family in Stretford, near the ground. He had no car, much less a fleet of cars, and he would have walked to the home matches. When they had meals he and the family ate from the same table. Today’s heroes are likely to have several enormous homes, a fleet of cars and all the luxuries that money can buy.
Unfortunately, the effects of modern day media and player wealth means that the players are now divorced from the fans. There is no contact between them apart from the appearances at games where ordinary people are being charged very high prices to see their heroes perform. The connection between fans and players is a thing of the past. No doubt Duncan Edwards might have enjoyed a tiny portion of the financial rewards enjoyed by Zlatan Ibrohimovic, but maybe some modern players would have liked to have had some connection with the community as players had in the post war years.