Steve Bartram salutes perhaps the most gallant figure in United's history...
When it comes to football lexicography, the dictionary has been diluted over time.
The reliance on popular vernacular to convey a simple sport to a mainstream audience has mutated meanings, breaking them down into limp offshoots of their original gist.
Take heroism, for example. Were we to believe all we read and hear within football, we would view making a goalline clearance or playing through injury as heroic. Any advance on the most basic deeds committed in the line of duty are rendered valorous, because heroes – authentic heroes validated by actual heroism – have been few and far between in football.
And understandably so, because it is a game conducted within set boundaries of an entertainment business. On the rare occasions in football when life and death collide in actuality, rather than in sporting metaphors, then we see true gallantry: the selfless sacrifice of sensibility for a cause.
In the long, opulent history of Manchester United, one hero stands taller than the rest: Harry Gregg.
The Northern Irish goalkeeper had been a United player for under two months when, on 6 February, 1958, he and his new colleagues were aboard the Manchester-bound flight which failed to leave a Munich runway.
Through Gregg’s autobiography, we can relive the horror of being aboard the ill-fated plane…
"The silence on the aircraft was punctuated by a nervous cough, then a snigger. Johnny Berry shouted: 'I don't know what you are laughing at, we're all going to get killed here'. Liam Whelan piped up: 'Well, if this is the time, I'm ready'.
"As I watched out of the window, the wheels began to lift off the ground. Then bang! There was a sudden crash and debris began bombarding me on all sides. One second it was light, the next dark.