United prepare for day of Busby Babes tributes

February 6, 2008

Manchester United's tribute to the eight footballers lost in the Munich air disaster 50 years ago will be one of permanence.

The Premier League champions' commemorative service includes the re-naming of the South Stand tunnel - it will be known as the Munich Tunnel - which from now on will house an exhibition of the Busby Babes.

This afternoon's service, in the Manchester Suite at the ground, will be conducted by club chaplain Reverend John Boyers to coincide with the time of crash at 3.04pm.

United chief executive David Gill said: 'We've tried to make sure we deal with things around the anniversary appropriately and compassionately.

'We spoke to those who were directly affected by the crash such as Sir Bobby (Charlton), as well as people who know the club and its history intimately like (club secretary) Ken Ramsden and (former United correspondent) David Meek.

'We formed a committee and debated various ideas, taking into account everyone's thoughts and feelings about what the disaster meant to people at the time and also what it means to the club today.'

Eight United players were among the 23 people who lost their lives on 6 February 1958, when BEA flight G-ALZU crashed on the third take-off attempt after re-fuelling in Germany on the way back from a European Cup success at Red Star Belgrade.

Sir Matt Busby's side - back-to-back English champions and well positioned for a hat-trick attempt - arguably were on course to become the best-ever United team.

The players who died in the crash were Geoff Bent, Roger Byrne, Eddie Colman, Duncan Edwards, Mark Jones, David Pegg, Tommy Taylor and Liam Whelan.

In addition to the Manchester remembrance, a short ceremony, organised by supporters, will also take place at the memorial site in Trudering, on the outskirts of Munich.

The Manchester United Independent Supporters Association have organised the 2.30pm event in Germany; after a short religious opening, a reading of the names of the dead will be followed by a citation of 'The Flowers of Manchester', the playing of the tune on the bagpipes and a lament as people lay wreaths.

In keeping with tradition, United supporters will also gather under the memorial plaque at Old Trafford ahead of that time.

MUTV, the club's official television channel, will be free to air in the UK throughout the day for all cable and satellite viewers - and the memorial service will be screened live.

Later in the day, a minute's silence will take place ahead of England's friendly with Switzerland at Wembley as a further mark of respect.

This coming Sunday, United's players will wear a one-off 1950s style kit, free from sponsorship and numbered 1-11 for the Manchester derby.