Sport on TV: Keeping the memory alive, even if it's time to move on

Gregg saves. And Gregg is saved. 'One Life: Harry Gregg's Journey' (BBC1, Wednesday) was one of several programmes to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Munich disaster that featured Gregg, the Manchester United goalkeeper who pulled other survivors from the wreckage of the plane. But 'One Life' provided a more personal perspective.

It traced the outspoken, often irascible 75-year-old's return to Munich and Belgrade. His daughter said he had been very excited at the prospect of making the trip at first, but as the date approached he became quieter and eventually stopped calling her.

The emotional toll on his "top four inches" was all too clear as he trod the tarmac of the Munich runway, white handkerchief fluttering against his black overcoat. But there was to be more sadness piled on top of his agony. He saved a 20-year-old woman, Vera Lukic, and her two-year-old daughter from the wreck. The woman was pregnant at the time, and Gregg met Vera for the first time, and the son she gave birth to.

What should have been a happy reunion was made terribly awkward because Vera's husband had died three months earlier. "Harry in some way always lived with our family," said the son. "That accident ruled our lives." Gregg, in his intense way, found himself trying to lighten the load on a grieving family. But it seemed to bring him out of himself, after he had been rather brusque with two local men who were among the first people to arrive at the crash scene.

In 1958, Gregg had tried to get over his grief in the only way he knew how. "I couldn't wait to get back to Old Trafford, to swear, to fight, to argue, that was the escape valve." By June, he had gone to the World Cup finals in Sweden, where he was hailed as the greatest goalkeeper in the world as Northern Ireland reached the quarter-finals.

But there was no escape from tragedy. His daughter revealed at the end of the programme that her mother died three years after the Munich disaster.

"I played football, and I was good on good days and rubbish on bad days," he closed by saying. "That's what I want to be remembered for, not for something that happened on the spur of the moment." It won't happen – he will always be a hero of Munich.

Yet he seemed to find some closure on his travels – and even a laugh when the old Red Star Belgrade team he had played against gave him a shirt with his name on the back and suggested a £100 million transfer might be in order.

* Amid all the fears that the minute's silence at Old Trafford will be ruined, the one held at Wembley on Wednesday was well observed, except by John Motson in the BBC commentary box, who was rambling on even after it had started. "Fans who disrupt it will be rightly banned from football grounds in the future," he said afterwards. So what about the commentators?

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Disruption at Waterloo after a person was hit by a train
newsCancellations and disrupted service after person hit by train
Arts and Entertainment
music
Arts and Entertainment
The almost deserted Liverpool Echo Arena on Monday
tvCan X Factor last in the face of plummeting numbers auditioning
News
Kirsty Bertarelli is launching a singing career with an album of songs detailing her observations of “real life”
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Guru Careers: PR Account Manager / AM

£20-30K(DOE) + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a PR Account M...

Guru Careers: Account Manager / Account Executive

Competitive (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: One of the UK’s largest and most s...

Guru Careers: Marketing and Communications Manager

£Competitive (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing and Co...

Guru Careers: Digital Designer / Interactive Designer

£ Highly Competitive (DOE): Guru Careers: A Digital Designer / Interactive Des...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence