'The Flowers of Manchester' - the Song Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

'The Flowers of Manchester' - the Song

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Oh, England's finest football team its record truly great,
Its proud successes mocked by a cruel turn of fate.
Eight men will never play again, who met destruction there,
The flowers of English football, the flowers of Manchester.

The Munich Air Crash

On 6 February, 1958, the Manchester United football team was returning from Belgrade, having beaten Red Star Belgrade in the European Cup. Their plane had stopped at Munich airport, Germany, for refuelling. At 2pm they attempted take off - engine problems caused the plane to turn back twice; but on the third attempt the plane skidded in snow on the runway, crashing into a ditch.

23 passengers were killed; eight of them were members of the football team.

The Players

The eight members of the team killed were:

  • Roger Byrne - the 29-year-old captain of the team.

  • Geoff Bent - age 25, and the left-back.

  • Eddie Coleman - age 21, and the right-half.

  • Duncan Edwards - also 21, and the wing-half. He died from his injuries 15 days after the crash.

  • Mark Jones - age 24, and the centre-half of the team.

  • David Pegg - age 22, and the outside-left.

  • Tommy Taylor - age 26, the team's centre-forward.

  • Billy Whelan - age 22, and the inside-right.

Matt Busby, the manager, was also badly injured and spent three months in hospital recovering.

The Song

The Flowers of Manchester was originally published anonymously on the letters page of the Manchester Evening News - it has since been established that journalist Eric Winters had written the words. It was later set to the tune of a Ewan McColl song, The Wars of Germanie, and was sung unaccompanied by Mick Groves on The Spinners album Black and White in 1971, although he had been singing it to that tune since 1961. The song has since been recorded by The Two Beggarmen and Terry Mechan.

It has become a tradition for a group of several hundred Manchester United fans to gather at the Munich memorial plaque at their ground, Old Trafford, and sing the song at the match held closest to the date of the crash.

Read the full lyrics to the song.

Football Terrace Songs and ChantsMunich Airport Memorial PlaqueBBC Football

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