Seven men connected with the crash or the club recall how they learned of the tragedy...
Ronnie Cope, former player - left United in 1961, three years after the crash
“It had been my wife’s idea to go shopping in Manchester, to take my mind off the disappointment of not going with the team to Belgrade. We were in the city centre when I heard this man shouting, ‘Plane crash! Plane crash!’ I didn’t take any notice at first. We walked halfway down the street and then… I couldn’t believe what happened next... an old lady walked in front of a bus and was killed. I was mesmerised, but I had to take my two children away from the scene and as I was doing so, I saw the placard - ‘Manchester United plane crash.’ When I got home, my next door neighbour told me what had happened. It took me a long time to get over it. Geoff Bent lived up the road from me. We used to go out together with our wives and kids. I just couldn’t bear to meet Geoff’s wife after the crash because he’d taken my place in the team and he’d been killed as a result.”
Noel McFarlane, former player - left United in 1956, two years before the crash
“I was at home when my wife came in and said, ‘Have you heard the news?’ I said, ‘What news?’ My wife replied, ‘A plane’s crashed, United were on it.’ It's difficult to say how I felt. Obviously I was sad because the players who died were my friends and some of them were very good friends. But in a way I suppose I felt lucky, not to have been there with them. I can’t really say any more about it.”
Pat Crerand, former player - joined United on the 5th anniversary of the crash
“I remember I was going to Celtic Park (Glasgow Celtic’s ground) to train. I was travelling on what we called a trolley bus when it went past a newspaper stand and the placards read ‘Manchester United in plane crash’. Even in those days, you just thought, ‘Oh, they’re just trying to sell papers with that headline.’ When I got to Celtic Park, it was about quarter to six. The conversation then was about who had been killed and we knew that Duncan Edwards, the big hero of young kids like us in Glasgow, was seriously ill.”
Sir Alex Ferguson, United manager - aged 16 at the time of the tragedy