Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

I Will Never Forget the Day I Watched the Busby Babes; Poignant Memories: Bobby Charlton (Far Right) Goes Close for Manchester United in a 5-4 Win over Arsenal at Highbury 50 Years Ago, Watched by Pat Rice (below). the Match Programme (Right) Is Now a Collectors' Item

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

I Will Never Forget the Day I Watched the Busby Babes; Poignant Memories: Bobby Charlton (Far Right) Goes Close for Manchester United in a 5-4 Win over Arsenal at Highbury 50 Years Ago, Watched by Pat Rice (below). the Match Programme (Right) Is Now a Collectors' Item

Article excerpt

Byline: Michael Hart

FOR Pat Rice, like most schoolboy football fans in the 1950s, the MunichAir Disaster unfolded in a series of shocking newspaper headlines.

These were the days before every family had a TV and, like Rice, I can recallmy own sense of disbelief at reading: "Man Utd players perish in air crash" onthe front page of my dad's paper.

Rice, the Arsenal assistant manager, was eight at the time and had just movedwith his family from Belfast to north London.

He was a Manchester United supporter and when Matt Busby's defending championsvisited Arsenal on 1 February 1958 he sneaked into the ground, joining a crowdof 63,578 to watch a match that retains a special poignancy 50 years later.

Five days after that game, the United charter aircraft crashed in snow after arefuelling stop at Munich's Riem airport.

The eventual death toll reached 23 and included eight players.

"I was dumbstruck Sports Minister's when I saw the headlines," recalled Ricewho has spent most of the last 44 years on the Arsenal staff as a player orcoach. "None of us kids could believe it. It was truly shocking.

I've never forgotten that day. Or those that followed.

"At first no one was sure how many had survived. Duncan Edwards was fightingfor his life in hospital for a couple of weeks before he died." The match atHighbury was the last played by 'The Busby Babes' in the UK before they tookoff for their European Cup tie against Red Star in Belgrade.

"A lot of Irish kids at the time were United supporters," said Rice.

"They were a glamorous team with a lot of big-name players Minister's plea overand they'd won the title two years running. We lived near the Arsenal groundand although I didn't have any money, I was able to sneak in." Rice saw Unitedsweep into a 3-0 lead with goals from Edwards, Bobby Charlton and Tommy Taylor. …

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