With the 50th anniversary of the tragic Munich air disaster taking place this week, FFC columnist Nick Rostron-Pike looks back at the lost babes who lost their lives that fateful day. In the second of this three part series Nick pays tribute to centre-half Mark Jones, David Pegg and legendary United striker Tommy Taylor.
It was a tragic event that claimed the lives of 23 people and wiped out half of what many considered one of the finest football sides this country has ever seen. It united a City who will undoubtedly be paying tributes in various forms this week. Here at FFC we just wanted to profile those who lost their lives in such tragic circumstances.
Name: Mark Jones
The original centre-half, Jones epitomised the classic traits; good header of the ball, crushing in the tackle and strong as an ox. He rarely gave the ball away with an over-ambitious forward lob and usually got the United attack moving by passing to either Duncan Edwards or Eddie Colman.
Jones relished the physical challenges of Lofthouse and Trevor Ford but was a completely different character off it. A strong family man, he was according the teams mates, a man without malice, more interested in talking about birds than football.
His footballing life was made difficult with the battle for the same position as Jackie Blanchflower. First one looked to have made the position his own then temporary drop in form or injury would let the other sneak back in. Jones had retained his place for the majority of the 1957/58 season though and played against Red Star.
An England schoolboy's captain, Jones never fulfilled his greatest ambition, to play a full international.
Name: David Pegg
David Pegg had been a schoolboy prodigy. Some pressmen even saw him as the replacement to Tom Finney in the England set-up. Pegg had been wanted by almost every top club but choose United and made his debut in the 1952/53 at the age of 17. He went on to be become one of the most respected wingers in the football league until he suffered a loss of form towards to the end of 1957 which let Albert Scanlon in.
His reputation stretched as far as Europe and Real Madrid once stated they had signed a defender specifically to nullify his threat. Pegg, who won two Championships whilst with the Red Devils, was more of a tricky winger than an out and out striker. He liked to cross the ball and Dennis Viollet and Tommy Taylor were grateful recipients of many of his looping balls. Pegg had won just one England cap.
United were robbed of a priceless asset.
Name: Tommy Taylor
Tommy Taylor is widely regarded as one of the best centre-forward, England, let alone United ever had. He is definitely one of the most under-rated players and his scoring record is something to behold. He scored 128 goals in 189 appearances for the Red Devils. That's two goals every three games. His England record tells us even more of his goal-scoring prowess. 16 goals in 19 games and at 26 was just about to approach his peak. Yet when the all time greats are mentioned, his name is not always included in the greats. To the Old Trafford faithful though, he was a legend.
Although not strictly a ‘Busby Babe' he joined forces with the youngsters to produce a team that England Europe hadn't seen before. His signing was comedic when compared to today's dealings, Taylor signed for £29,999 because Sir Matt didn't want Taylor the pressure of being a £30,000 player. Busby gave the extra pound to a tea lady. It was clear that Busby should have paid double that, two goals on his debut, one a header from outside the box endeared him to the Manchester faithful.
Undoubtedly his main talent was heading the ball, and combined with the wingers that United possessed he could smack the ball with his forehead harder than some people could kick it.
A true testament to his talents was Busby refusal to accept a then astronomical £65,000 for his services from Inter Milan after the 1957 FA Cup Final.
The man was not for sale at any price.