A Red Tribute

Love is in the air.

Quite unlike me for a starting line, I know.
So with Valentine’s day approaching, for which people start making plans quicker than they might for an imminent apocalypse, I thought I should join the trend. I thought it’d be a nice idea to write about what I love.

Today is a very special day. On February 6th, 1958, the Busby Babes of Manchester United played their last ever football match, against Red Star Belgrade, before they met tragedy in the Munich air crash. May their souls rest in peace.

So yeah, this post is my small tribute to them and to Manchester United, the football club I truly love.

I started watching football in early 2007. Uptil then, my knowledge depended solely on how much I played Fifa. Two of my close friends were Man Utd fans. So I started watching the matches with them, and gradually become one myself.

You don’t need to be the smartest person to notice that this was a team with a knack of making the most amazing of comebacks in any game. These are the highlights of the Champions League final in 1999, where Man Utd scored twice in the last three minutes to defeat Bayern Munich.

Over the time I grew extremely fond of this never-say-die spirit. Sometimes I used to wonder, whether they are just a series of coincidences. But that many? Nah, it had to be something else.

Then in 2011, I watched this documentary/movie of Manchester United (United), dedicated to the Busby Babes – named after their legendary manager, Sir Matt Busby.

Before watching this I had no idea what had happened in the Munich Air crash. It was just a term which I heard occassionally. It was a boiling 40 something degrees on a Sunday, and I was in Baroda doing my internship. There was a power cut as well.

Amidst all this, I started watching this movie. The power cut persisted, but not once did I pause to wipe my profusely sweating head.

No amount of words can do justice to the martyrs of that unfortunate day, but for those unaware, here’s a very brief description of what happened.

The team had traveled to Munich to play a match against Red Star Belgrade, another European club. The flight in which they were supposed to go back failed to take off twice in the intense snow storm. The third time was the undoing.

Of the 44 people onboard, there were 23 casualties, which included 8 Manchester United players. I won’t go into much detail, but effectively the team was finished, with Sir Matt Busby also critically injured.

This brings us to my favorite scene in the movie, where the Man Utd Board has a meeting with the stand-in manager Jimmy Murphy, and tell him that for the time being it is best to shutdown Manchester United Football Club. Murphy is enraged and tries to convince them he can pull it off. That he can get the players and the training. And when the board says how everyone’s shattered by the loss, this is what Murphy says to finally convince them:

“No..no.. it’s not about the players. It’s about showing who we are to the world – that we won’t be bowed by tragedy. How we behave in the future will be founded on how we behave today.”

And boy was he right.
To this day, Manchester United is recognized all over the world for its character and spirit.
Even today, they were 3-0 down to Chelsea in the second half, but ended the game at 3-3.

Manchester United is a symbol of hope to me. Bad times visit us all, but we all don’t react quite the same way. Tragedies, injuries, controversies…they’ve had it all, but everytime they got back up. In situations where most teams would give up every shred of hope, they didn’t, and still don’t.

Their gameplay is outstanding, but I don’t claim that they play the greatest football in the world. Whether you win or lose can never be entirely upto you, but it’s another choice that makes all the difference: To believe or not to believe.

I Believe.

5 thoughts on “A Red Tribute

  1. Rightly said, 'Manchester United is a symbol of hope!' and they might not play the best football in the world but what they do is truely marvellous. I have no idea what I would've been without them.


  2. Thanks a lot guys! 🙂

    And Asmatullah Achakzai, very amusing name 😀
    That documentary can do that anyone, even those who don't watch football.

    Degant – Precisely man. Very few people understand this aspect of United.
    KD – Haha, awesome!


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