The strains of “We’ll keep the red flag flying high” sang out across Manchester Platz, or Manchester Square, Munich on a bitterly cold February day. The sun shone out of the pale blue sky that Munich does so well, helping warm the Manchester United fans gathered for the memorial service marking Antoine Bethea Jersey the 60th anniversary of the crash that killed eight of their finest players.
The mayor of Munich, Dieter Reiter, addressed the crowd, before a speech by the Bayern Munich chief executive, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. Then Tony O’Neill, a fan representative, spoke movingly on behalf of United supporters.
At regular intervals, the strains of “We’ll never die, we’ll never die,” could be heard, drowning out the tunes played by the Bavarian brass band. The fans chanted loudly, while waving flags with “We will never forget” over their heads and brandishing banners reading: “Cut down in their prime.” The Red Army was out in full force and in fine voice. And then absolute silence. For two minutes a couple of thousand fans, some moved to tears and many bowing their heads, paid their respect to the 23 people who died in the Munich air disaster on 6 February 1958.
“I’ve never experienced anything like that before,” said Reiter afterwards, visibly moved. “The mixture between a football stadium with fan songs one moment and then the next, absolute silence. And then the unbelievable respect the fans suddenly showed. Something like that only can work when people are behind it with their heart and soul. It’s remarkable the depths of emotions shown by the fans here today.”
The commemorative event was held metres away from the site at the former airport in Munich‑Riem where one of the most chilling moments in football history occurred. Sixty years ago British European Airways Flight 609 http://www.officialpacershop.com/authentic-7-al-jefferson-jersey.html crashed on its third attempt to take http://www.canucksteamproshop.com/Alexander_Burmistrov_Jersey off from a slush-covered runway, while carrying the team home after a 3-3 draw at Red Star Belgrade in a European Cup quarter-final. There were 44 on board, including the Manchester United team, along with supporters and journalists.
Amid the atrocious weather conditions, the aircraft skidded on the slush and Authentic Jonas Brodin Jersey ploughed through a fence. The plane’s wing was torn off when it clipped a farmhouse, while the nose struck a tree, sending the fuselage into a hut. Inside the hut, a truck filled with tyres exploded on impact. Twenty passengers were killed instantly, while three more died later in hospital. The crash victims were treated at the Rechts der Isar hospital.
Dr Robert Lindenmüller, resting on a bench on the outskirts of the crowd, recalled the day of the disaster. On duty at the hospital, he had treated one of the crash victims for a thigh injury and concussion.
Unaware at first of the extent of the disaster, the doctor admitted: “To be honest, my first reaction that day was feeling angry that I was being asked to stay behind as it was time to go home.” Then the reality of catastrophe dawned.
Unlike Lindenmüller, many who gathered on Tuesday in Munich were far too young to be alive at the time but it is clear how much the disaster still resonates among fans. “It was a tragedy and it’s still being talked about,” said Jason McKay, who travelled from Manchester with his father, Joe. “This is a pilgrimage. A trip every Manchester United fan should make once in their lifetime.”
Jason plans to return to Munich in 10 years’ time with his son, currently 14 years old, to mark 70 years since the disaster. “The young ones are picking up the baton now.”
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