Object of the Week: Manchester United signed menu card 5 February 1958 Calendar
3 Feb 2021
On 6 February 1958 Manchester United met with disaster when their plane crashed at Munich.
Twenty three people – including eight players – suffered fatal injuries in the disaster.
Museum Futures trainee Tilly Johnson looks at this poignant object relating to the tragedy of the Busby Babes.
What is this object?
This is a dinner menu card from the Hotel Majestic in Belgrade. It is signed on the reverse by the Manchester United team who were in the city to play Red Star Belgrade.
Eight of the players who signed this card lost their lives after their plane crashed at Munich the following day. This was the darkest day in the history of the club.
Why is it so significant?
It is signed by the famous Busby Babes including Duncan Edwards – an England international and one of the finest players of his generation.
It is both poignant and heartbreaking because the following day this team would be decimated in the plane crash. This menu marks one of the final times the team were together.
Tell us about the circumstances that United were in Belgrade and then Munich
The Manchester United team were staying at Hotel Majestic for the quarter-final of the European Cup against Red Star Belgrade. They drew the game 3-3 which was enough to take them through to the semi-finals of the competition.
On their return journey their plane refuelled in Munich, Germany. The BEA (British European Airways) plane had to take-off from Munich in wintery conditions. The third attempt proved fatal. The plane failed to gain height and crashed into the fence surrounding the airport and a house.
Who were among the casualties?
The eight players who perished were Geoff Bent (aged 25), Roger Byrne (28), Eddie Colman (21), Duncan Edwards (21), Mark Jones (24), David Pegg (22), Tommy Taylor (26) and Liam Whelan (22). Edwards, died 15 days after the accident.
The three club officials who were killed were secretary Walter Crickmer, trainer Tom Curry and coach Bert Whalley.
Eight journalists died – Alf Clarke, Donny Davies, George Follows, Tom Jackson, Archie Ledbrooke, Henry Rose, Eric Thompson and former Manchester City goalkeeper Frank Swift.
How is the disaster remembered in the museum?
The museum has a display which tells the story of the Busby Babes and the disaster. You can see the menu along with other items including a brass tray found on the runway in the debris. The tray was part of a coffee set given to every United player by Red Star. It is engraved with ‘FK CREVENA VEZDA BEOGRAD 5.II.1958’.
How did United ever recover from Munich?
The Munich Air Disaster is an indelible part of United’s history.
Amazingly, the club made it to the 1958 FA Cup final – just three months after the disaster. Crash survivor and hero of Munich Harry Gregg played in goal at Wembley alongside three other players who escaped the carnage.
Manager Sir Matt Busby overcame his crash injuries to work alongside his assistant Jimmy Murphy and build another great team which won the European Cup 10 years later.