United in sorrow for the Babes

MANCHESTER United today unveiled a permanent tribute to the eight footballers killed the Munich air disaster 50 years ago.The South Stand tunnel, from now on known as the Munich Tunnel, will house an exhibition of the Busby Babes.

MANCHESTER United today unveiled a permanent tribute to the eight footballers killed the Munich air disaster 50 years ago.

The South Stand tunnel, from now on known as the Munich Tunnel, will house an exhibition of the Busby Babes.

A memorial service in the Old Trafford's Manchester coincided 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.”

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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

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.