Duncan Edwards will forever be remembered as the Busby Babe many believed would have become the greatest footballer of all time had it not been for the Munich Air Disaster.
Sir Bobby Charlton, one of the survivors of the crash, famously said that Duncan Edwards was the only footballer who ever made him feel inferior. The loss of Edwards and the other victims of Munich changed the course of history, not only for Manchester United but for England, who may not have had to wait until 1966 to win the World Cup with Edwards wearing the Three Lions.
Sixty years on from the crash, in his home town of Dudley, the locals are celebrating what would have been his 82nd birthday tomorrow on 1st October with the inaugural Duncan Edwards Day. It is a special occasion that is an honour to be part of.
Born a year after Munich, I grew up hearing about this legendary footballer from my father and uncle who were both fanatical supporters of Manchester United. To attend this special day with the task of documenting the occasion in my role as a filmmaker and storyteller is a fabulous honour, as a lifelong United fan brought up to worship the Busby Babes and everything they stood for.
The day has been meticulously planned by my good friend Rose Cook Monk, founder of the official Duncan Edwards Foundation, who has worked tirelessly for many years to ensure her local community keeps alive the memory of their most famous son.
It is with huge respect that I thank Rose, on behalf of all Manchester United fans, for everything she has done to honour her promise to Duncan’s mother Sarah Anne and the rest of the Edwards family. Rose pledged to do everything possible to keep alive the name of Duncan Edwards in the town where he was born, and she has been good to her word.
Backed by Dudley Council, the celebrations include a day of activities punctuated by a poignant wreath-laying at Duncan’s grave by the Edwards family and the local mayor. In the evening a variety show starring an array of Black Country talent is raising funds for the Foundation, a non-profit charity donating money to help local children with sporting ability.
The daytime celebrations are taking place around Dudley’s imposing statue of Duncan Edwards, the variety show is being hosted by the Station Hotel and the Foundation offices in Castle Street will be open at lunchtime for the public to view archives, photos and share stories over refreshments.
For more details about the Duncan Edwards Foundation visit the official website at duncanedwardsfoundation.co.uk and after the event this page will be updated below with videos and stills from the inaugural Duncan Edwards Day.
Meantime, consider how many of those European Cups won in the early days of the competition by Real Madrid would have been won by Manchester United had it not been for the crash when we lost eight of the Busby Babes including the great Duncan Edwards.
After winning the first two European Cups in 1956 and 1957, Real Madrid made it five in a row when they thrashed Eintracht Frankfurt 7-3 in the 1960 Final at Hamden Park.
United had to wait until 1968 when Busby finally achieved his dream at Wembley after coming back and building a new team. But there is little doubt that United’s team that perished at Munich would have rivalled the Spanish giants from 1958 onwards.
Every footballer I have ever interviewed who played with or against Duncan Edwards has told me that he had the potential to be the greatest footballer who ever lived. Even when he died at the tender age of 21 he was already the greatest in the eyes of many.
What is without doubt is that the Munich air crash of February 1958 destroyed one of the greatest teams in the history of sport. But no member of that tragic Manchester United side was as talented as Duncan Edwards
#ManUtdTheReligion To stay updated about our documentary films about Manchester United please join our Private Facebook Group at https://www.facebook.com/MUFCtheReligion/or by visiting http://manutdthereligion.net it’s absolutely free!