United fans.

How United fans are preserving the Babes’ legacy

Two years ago, the 60th anniversary of the Munich Air Disaster drew the biggest ever gathering of Manchester United supporters to the site of the tragedy in Trudering, underlining just how vividly the Busby Babes remain alive in the hearts and minds of our fan base.

The ceremony at Manchesterplatz that year was organised and led by the Manchester Munich Memorial Foundation, a not-for-profit company set up by longstanding Reds. Their aim? Simply to preserve the Babes’ legacy for future generations, while raising money to help charities in Manchester, Munich and Belgrade.

“We’re just a group of diehard United fans,” explains chairman Pat Burns. “We wanted to do something really special for the 60th anniversary, because we know that in another 10 years we might not be here.

“From that, we decided to do something; to build a legacy to hand on to future generations. Because, for us, United and the Babes go hand in glove. They’re part of our DNA. They’re the reason why virtually every fan I know supports United. It’s the story we were brought up on.”

MMMF leaders with Manchesterplatz street sign.
MMMF delivered the original Manchesterplatz street sign to United’s museum curator Mark Wylie (centre) last year, and the group of dedicated fans continue to spread awareness of their work.

For this year’s 62nd anniversary, MMMF representatives travelled to Belgrade to present a brass plaque to the Majestic Hotel – where the Babes spent their final night – to go on permanent display in the hotel’s foyer.

The delegation then headed to Munich, where around 100-200 Reds were expected to attend the MMMF-led ceremony and watch the foundation stone for a new memorabilia showcase being laid, ahead of a two minutes’ silence and the traditional singing of The Flowers of Manchester.

But the group’s primary concern is the future. The foundation has applied for charity status and wants to spread awareness of their work.

“We raise money simply from asking United fans to support us,” says Burns. “We run an annual JustGiving appeal in January and February, raise money on the away-day coaches, and run an annual dinner.

“The support for the last dinner was amazing. We had 170 people and raised over £9,000, which is brilliant. We had Lou Macari, Arthur Albiston, Paddy Crerand, plus Harry Gregg’s daughter and Jimmy Murphy’s son – who are going to be our patrons. That’s how close-knit we want it. This whole thing is built around the Babes, the Babes’ families and United fans.”

United fans at Munich memorial.
MMMF representatives will mark the 62nd anniversary of the Munich Air Disaster in Belgrade and Germany.

So far, money has gone to the Depaul charity in Manchester — which helps homeless young people – and football charities in both Munich and Belgrade. The work in Serbia was undertaken at the personal behest of Harry Gregg.

“It’s great if you’re a United supporter,” enthuses Burns. “It’s even better if you know our history, where we came from, and what a pioneer Matt Busby was.

“So go to our website – see what we do to preserve that legacy. It’s part of your family; it’s part of the United family. If you like it, if you’ve got a passion for this, we are looking for the people who might follow us, who might be in their teens, twenties and thirties. We would happily talk to anybody that would like to get involved.

“Personally, I would love every United fan to know about us and for those who can to show a little bit of support. So get in touch, come to one of our dinners, donate to our JustGiving appeal. But, more importantly, learn about us and share your thoughts and ideas.”

For more information, visit: mmmf.munich58.co.uk

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