Manchester and Munich unite to recall 'a black day in the history of football'

From an unprepossessing corner of east Munich to a stand at Old Trafford, the 23 lives lost in the plane crash which has come to define Manchester United were remembered yesterday.

At 3.04pm – a time engrained on the club's psyche by the clock stopped at that time on Sir Matt Busby Way at Old Trafford – a group of 200 fans gathered at the memorial stone in the Munich suburb of Trudering, near the site of Reim airport which has since made way for a trade centre. "The Flowers of Manchester" was played on bagpipes as those gathered, including the Bayern Munich chairman, Karl Heinz Rummenigge, bowed in reflection.

Around 1,000 people, including the United owner Malcolm Glazer's sons Joel, Avram and Bryan, gathered in the Manchester Lounge at Old Trafford where the image which perhaps best defines United's loss – their starting XI, lining up on a freezing evening to face their last match against Red Star Belgrade fewer than 24 hours before the tragedy – was projected throughout a two-hour commemorative event. Thousands more gathered outside the ground.

The full emotion in Manchester is reserved for Sunday's derby match, when both City and United will wear 1950s kits, free of commercial logos. But Munich's came yesterday as Rummenigge, who worked hard to ensure that a memorial befitting the tragedy was erected in 2004, spoke of the loss.

"Six February 1958 was a black day in the history of Manchester United, but also for football in general," Rummenigge said. "I can imagine today the thoughts of my old friend Bobby Charlton, team member of that great and fantastic Busby Babes team."

A United supporter took the microphone and expressed fans' gratitude for the site before the crowd dispersed, some singing Busby anthems.

Back in Manchester, many fans wore modern shirts with the legend "Munich 58" emblazoned on the backs, while the late Duncan Edwards' No 6 jersey was in abundance. The names of the 23 who died were read out before a minute's silence and a service inside led by club chaplain, the Reverend John Boyers.

One of the early arrivals for it was the club's former goalkeeper Alex Stepney, a schoolboy of 15 at the time of the tragedy. "I am very humble," he said. "I was 15 at the time and I remember how shocked everyone was. Little did I think or dream then that I would play for the team when they won the European Cup in 1968."

Underneath the huge poster of the iconic Belgrade image currently hanging from the East Stand, supporters paid their own tributes and few were more poignant than that of Derek Taylor, 66, who was working for a local newspaper as a copy runner, taking breaking news information from a teleprinter, on the day of the crash. Inside, Sir Bobby Charlton told those gathered that the team "decimated in Munich" would have been the first British team to win the European Cup that year.

A free, permanent exhibition of the Busby Babes in the South Stand tunnel, now renamed the Munich Tunnel, was unveiled by United's chief executive, David Gill, and Roger Byrne, whose father, the United captain Roger Byrne, died in the crash.

Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
Arts and Entertainment
Beast would strip to his underpants and take to the stage with a slogan scrawled on his bare chest whilst fans shouted “you fat bastard” at him
musicIndie music promoter was was a feature at Carter gigs
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Performers dressed as Tunnocks chocolate teacakes, a renowned Scottish confectionary, perform during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
news
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Arts and Entertainment
La Roux
music
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Fellows as John Shuttleworth
comedySean O'Grady joins Graham Fellows down his local Spar
News
people
News
Ross Burden pictured in 2002
people
News
Elisabeth Murdoch: The 44-year-old said she felt a responsibility to 'stand up and be counted’'
media... says Rupert Murdoch
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Extras
indybest
Sport
Arsenal signing Calum Chambers
sportGunners complete £16m transfer of Southampton youngster
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on