Munich air crash ‘ingrained’ in Manchester United story

first_imgThe ill-fated aircraft was bringing Matt Busby’s youthful team back via Munich from Belgrade on February 6, 1958 after they had reached the European Cup semi-finals.The plane crashed on its third take-off attempt in icy weather, costing the lives of eight players and three members of the club’s staff. Twenty-three people died in total.Bobby Charlton and Harry Gregg are the only survivors out of the group of players who lived through the crash.“The day that is absolutely shown in red on this week’s calendar is on Tuesday, a day that marks the 60th anniversary of the air disaster,” Spanish forward Juan Mata wrote in his blog on United’s website.“The victims will never be forgotten, they will always be remembered and will be a part of United’s history forever. The passion, determination and courage shown by the club to carry on in those horrible moments have left an indelible mark forever.”Marcus Rashford, who follows in United’s proud tradition of blooding young, homegrown players, said he learned about the disaster as a young child.“It was when I was about seven or eight,” the 20-year-old striker told United Review.“There were already little things about it around (the club) at that age, but then you start to learn more about it, and when you got to 15 or 16, that was when (former academy coach) Paul McGuinness really started to bring it to our attention.“We used to watch a lot of the videos of games, especially from their FA Youth Cup runs, so we could see footage of what these players were like when they were young. It’s so close to home, it touches your heart and helps you understand it, even though you weren’t there.”– Fans remember –John Valentine, who sells scarves outside Old Trafford, said the Munich crash is “ingrained in the history of this club”.“If I come back in another 500 years it will still be being talked about,” said Valentine, born in the year of the disaster. “You can’t forget something like that — a team nearly wiped out in a plane crash.”Among the eight who died, the player most revered is half-back Duncan Edwards, who survived the crash but succumbed to his injuries two weeks later.“I missed out on those players but I have spoken to people who did and they talk about Duncan Edwards,” said Valentine, who sells a scarf with the words ‘They shall never die’ with the images of the eight who perished.Valentine says the fact around 2,000 United fans are due to go to Munich for the anniversary shows how important the events of February 1958 still are, even to the young.Kion Brown, who was at Old Trafford with his father and fellow diehard United fan Everton on the day of his ninth birthday last week, reflected how it resonates even with youngsters, even though little footage remains of the “Babes”.“I keep him (Kion) up to date and brought him to see the (memorial) clock and see all the players who died. It (the anniversary) is a big day for us,” 35-year-old Everton told AFP.Busby, who was twice given the last rites by a priest, remarkably survived the crash and guided United to an emotional win in the European Cup 10 years later with Charlton captaining the side and scoring twice.“That was like the Holy Grail for the club,” said Valentine. “Because of the crash in 1958 Busby wanted the cup for those boys who perished and the club.“And we got it as well!”0Shares0000(Visited 3 times, 1 visits today) 0Shares0000Man Utd fans hold banners comemmorating the 1958 Munich Air Disaster © AFP / PAUL ELLISMANCHESTER, United Kingdom, Feb 6 – The Munich air crash that cruelly cut down Manchester United’s “Busby Babes” in their prime has enormous significance for the club’s players and fans even 60 years on from that fateful day.United are holding a commemorative service at Old Trafford on Tuesday, which will include readings and poems ahead of a minute’s silence at 1504 GMT, marking the time of the plane crash six decades ago.last_img read more


first_img “We would sleep in the car and wouldn’t eat for a day. There were times when things were rough. It was like, ‘Man, this is a reality check,’ ” Harwell said. “Now, I’m living it up. Living on my own, in a dorm. It’s great, but back then, I look back and I didn’t know if I was going to eat one day, or sleep or shower.” Harwell said he and his brothers showered at friends’ houses, and went to the library after school to do homework because there was no light in the car at night. The state got word of the situation, and declared Ruby an unfit mother, Harwell said. According to Williams, who is 34, Ruby suffers from “mental issues.” Harwell’s father, David, lives in Fort Wayne, Ind. The older siblings were out of high school, some in college. Brigham, Brent and Byron were placed in foster care. Williams visited regularly, and planned to become their guardian. But he and his wife, Jamila, who have four kids, were raising their own family, and the resources weren’t in place to add. So Harwell went to foster care for most of seventh and eighth grades. “Foster care is not nice,” Harwell said. “From sixth grade through high school, I can name so many friends, and their parents, that helped me out. I love the Rodgers (Bill and Sheri). I played on their basketball team and every summer they took me to Palm Springs and paid for everything – clothes, food, a place to stay.” Harwell said he didn’t see his younger brothers much, but that started to change when Williams, a bank manager, gained custody of Brigham before his freshman year at Los Altos High of Hacienda Heights. The Williamses gave Harwell a structured family unit. Joe said Brigham did whatever it took to chip in. He would cut grass in the summer to earn money, and was a baby-sitter for his now 5-year-old nephew, Jeremey, who is autistic. But after two years at Los Altos, the Williamses moved into a bigger home in Chino Hills. Harwell, though, was fitting in at Los Altos, and didn’t want to transfer. That’s when a neighbor, who worked in the Hacienda Heights area, stepped in. The neighbor made the one-hour drive each day to drop off and pick up Harwell at Los Altos. Through all of this, Harwell, who said he had very little contact with his parents during high school, never was in trouble, and maintained a B average in school. “I’m so proud of him,” Williams said. “You’re not going to find a guy that is as humble as him, and as genuinely a good person. … I can’t remember having to ever tell Brigham, ‘Did you get your homework done?’ He worked so hard, and that’s why I’m so proud of him.” Harwell also turned into a tremendous football player. Conquerors coach Greg Gano said Harwell, who played defensive end, finished his career one-half sack shy of former USC standout Shaun Cody’s school record. As a senior, Harwell had 22 sacks. “We could have given the sack to get the record, but Brigham would never have taken it,” Gano said. “Everything he gets, and everything he got at Los Altos, he deserves. He’s a very loving kid. When he comes back, you don’t shake his hand, you give him a big hug.” Harwell played defensive end as a freshman at UCLA, but in the spring was asked to move to defensive tackle, a position he did not want to play coming out of high school. Although Harwell was willing to make the move, Williams stepped in and met with Bruins coach Karl Dorrell. Harwell also sought advice from several of his high school coaches, and chatted with Cody online. A transfer was contemplated, which Williams said he initiated, but Harwell, maintaining UCLA was the right place for him, stayed. He has 14 tackles for the Bruins this season, and leads UCLA’s defensive linemen with five tackles for loss. “There’s two things that attracted us to him,” Dorrell said. “One, he’s a great person. And two, for his background, for all the things that he’s had to endure, and for him to be as good a student as he was, and keep focus on being as good a football player as a student, those are things that were really, really intriguing, and special, about him. He takes a lot of pride in everything he does.” Things are falling into place for Harwell. The Williamses became guardians of younger brothers Brent and Byron, now 16 and 15, respectively. Harwell’s dad attended the Sept. 10 game against Rice. Also, after being out of contact with his mom for a while, Harwell got her phone number about a month ago, and the two talk every weekend. “She watches every game on TV, and I talk to her and let her know everything is good,” Harwell said. “My mom, she’s my hero. Even though she has problems, she cared for us really well, no matter what. … It got to a point where we got older and she couldn’t do it anymore.” Ruby is living in a hotel in Arcadia, and the family remains fond of her. “We still love our mom, but right now there’s nothing we can do,” Williams said. “Brigham says, ‘That motivates me to do something, to help my mom.’ “ But all is not perfect. Harwell said his 26-year-old brother, Daydrain, “is messed up on drugs,” and the family has been unable to locate him. “(Brigham) could have felt sorry for himself and folded it up, and he didn’t do that. He never made his family situation a deterrent,” Gano said. “Of any kid I coached, I think Brigham had the most fun on the football field. I think it was his outlet.” 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Growing up was not easy for Harwell, nor his family, but UCLA’s starting sophomore defensive tackle shows no signs of bitterness or resentment for what he had to overcome. He is a superb student, a star in the making on the football field, humble and quiet. But he believes he did not miss out on much growing up, and one day hopes to care for a mother deemed unfit to care for him. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week “I think about where I’m at now, and I can’t even describe it. It’s a long time coming,” Harwell said. “I don’t know how I made it. It’s help from family and friends. Without my brother, Joe, I believe I wouldn’t be here right now.” Harwell sprained his right ankle last Saturday against Cal, but expects to play this weekend. It is no surprise Harwell rebounded so quickly, because he has been doing it for many of his 20 years. “Sometimes I listen to the stuff he’s told me about, and I’m like, ‘Wow, I’d be crying like a little girl,’ ” said UCLA defensive tackle Kenneth Lombard, one of Harwell’s best friends. “What I admire about him is, he doesn’t complain about those things. One thing you never hear from Brigham, and I mean never, is ‘Woe is me.’ “ It was difficult, Harwell recalls, because his parents divorced when he was in the fourth grade. He has six brothers and two sisters, and remembers his mother, Ruby, exhausting every option to provide for the family. But the expenses became too high, the burden too expansive. Harwell said by the time he was in sixth grade, his mom couldn’t afford to pay the rent, so Brigham, younger brothers Brent and Byron, and his mom began living in the car. center_img The family car was cramped, but Brigham Harwell, his two younger brothers and his mom called it home for a bit. Later, the foster home provided shelter and food, but being detached from his family caused mental anguish for Harwell until his older brother, Joe Williams, stepped in and became his legal guardian. last_img read more