On 6 February 1958, on a snowy runway in Munich, a tragedy that would forever be printed in the history of Manchester United Football Club took place. On the 6 February, every year, Old Trafford and Manchester fall silent for the Flowers of Manchester. Remembered forevermore.
After a 3-3 draw versus Red Star Belgrade in the European Cup and their progress to the semi-finals of the competition, Manchester United travelled back home by plane, refuelling in Munich. After two failed takeoff attempts in the raw, snowy conditions, the pilots, James Thain and Kenneth Rayment, attempted a third. A third which would prove fatal. The slush on the runway prevented the plane from reaching the required speed for takeoff and instead swerved, hit a house before crashing through a hut, causing an explosion, then slowing down and coming to a standstill.
Twenty-three died, twenty-one survived. The Busby Babes, led by manager Sir Matt Busby, were now eight players less. Geoff Bent, Roger Byrne, Eddie Colman, Duncan Edwards, Mark Jones, David Pegg, Tommy Taylor and Liam Whelan were all lost on that day in Munich. It was a Manchester United in heartbreak and shock, joined with the rest of the footballing world. It was a day that would forever be remembered as the darkest one in the history of Manchester United Football Club.
One of the survivors was a man by the name of Sir Bobby Charlton, who needs no further introduction. 10 years after the tragedy he led his Manchester United, together with Sir Matt Busby, to victory of the European Cup. A trophy which Busby had craved for such a long time, but that now was something more than just a trophy. It was something special. It was a win dedicated to the players who never made it back home from Munich, and it was a win which truly showed that Manchester United was indeed back on the highest level of world football. A place where they intended to stay, and did, for the longest of time.
When the clock strikes 15:04 on 6 February, Manchester United and Manchester will fall silent for the victims on that cold, horrendous day in 1958. Over 60 years have passed, but for many, the pain and sadness will be just as present as it was all those years ago. It is a day that will always be remembered, and the Flowers of Manchester will never, ever, be forgotten.