Busby Babes

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A black-and-white photograph of a football team lining up before a match. Eleven men in old-fashioned association football attire stand in a line: ten wear dark shirts, white shorts and black socks, and the other wears a still darker shirt. Behind the players can be seen one of the enormous open stands of an East European-style soccer stadium, filled to the brim with spectators.
Manchester United's "Busby Babes", pictured in 1958, before their last match

The "Busby Babes" is the name given to a group of Manchester United players, recruited and trained by the club's chief scout Joe Armstrong and assistant manager Jimmy Murphy, who progressed from the club's youth team into the first team under the management of the eponymous Matt Busby.

The Busby Babes were notable not only for being young and gifted, but for being developed by the club itself, rather than bought from other clubs, which was customary then, as now. The term, coined by Manchester Evening News journalist Frank Nicklin[1][2] in 1951,[3]usually refers to the players who won the league championship in seasons 1955–56 and 1956–57 with an average age of 21 and 22 respectively.

Eight of the players – Roger Byrne (28), Eddie Colman (21), Mark Jones (24), Duncan Edwards (21), Billy Whelan (22), Tommy Taylor (26), David Pegg (22) and Geoff Bent (25) – died in or as a result of the Munich air disaster in February 1958, while Jackie Blanchflower (24 at the time of the crash) and senior player Johnny Berry (31 at the time of the crash) were injured to such an extent that they never played again.

A few of the players in the team at this time had actually been bought from other clubs, although one of them, goalkeeper Ray Wood, was just 18 when he joined United from Darlington in 1949. Wood's successor in the first team, Harry Gregg, signed in December 1957, was signed from Doncaster Rovers as the world's most expensive goalkeeper at the time for £23,500. Tommy Taylor had been one of the most expensive players in English footballer when United paid £29,999 for him as a 21-year-old from Barnsley in 1953, whereas Johnny Berry (in his thirties by the time of the Munich crash) had signed for United as long ago as 1951, when he was 25.

Other notable "Busby Babes" include full-back Bill Foulkes, wingers Kenny Morgans and Albert Scanlon, forward Dennis Viollet, wing-half Wilf McGuinness (who later managed United) and forwards John Doherty and Colin Webster.

The last remaining player from the pre-Munich side, Bobby Charlton (20 at the time of the crash), retired from playing in 1975; though he had left Manchester United two years earlier, he had continued playing as player-manager of Preston North End. As a player he set the all-time goalscoring record for Manchester United and England, and his appearance record was unbroken for 35 years after his last game for United.

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