Rare images of United icon Duncan Edwards

Tuesday 21 February 2023 11:07

A new biography about Manchester United legend Duncan Edwards was released last Thursday and fans are devouring every word.

Written by author Wayne Barton, the book attempts to interpret Duncan’s life and career, and it has been fully authorised by the family of the lost genius. 

Edwards will always be a colossal figure in United history and, since his tragic passing in 1958, tales of the late great Busby Babe have become legendary.

Dudley’s favourite son was 21 when he died from injuries sustained in the Munich Air Disaster, yet his legacy lives on and he is still described by many as the greatest player there ever was.

Within the pages of 'Eternal' are incredible new insights about Edwards, as well as a selection of rarely seen images that were supplied by his family and also sourced from the Reach publishing archive.

We are delighted to share some of them with you today, on the anniversary of Duncan's passing. There are more to be found in the book itself, which is available now...


Ahead of its anticipated release, Barton spoke to us about the biography's inception and how he got involved. “I’d been in contact with the family going back to 2018,” said Wayne. “After I did the Jimmy Murphy book, I was invited down to St Francis’ [Church, in Dudley]. They were having a memorial service down there for Duncan and the other Babes. That’s how I connected with some of them – Keith [Edwards, first cousin], Lawrence [Brownhill, second cousin]. There were other family members too, but they are the ones who are most prominent in the media. 

“Over the following years, they’d make it known in conversations that there was a wish in Duncan’s family [to do a book]. There’s obviously been books on him before, and rightly he’s had this legendary, mythical status. But they just wanted some sort of record on him that portrayed him as a normal, every-day lad, and the person they knew. That was how those conversations started. I went down to Dudley a few times and I was talking to different people, and everyone that’s been to Dudley will know the regard that he’s held in. It seems like there’s something about him on every street corner. There’s a lot of pride down there. The penny started to drop in terms of how they wanted to portray him in a different way. Yeah, he’s this mythical son and they are so proud of him; they want the local kids to know that it’s aspirational; that a local ordinary lad did this. 

“But once I knew the angle they wanted to go at, and that it was something different to the way that the story has been told before, I was excited. But also a little bit apprehensive, because it’s Duncan!”

Writing about Edwards and indeed Munich is a serious task, but Barton is confident fans will enjoy the book and learn more about Duncan's life. “It was terrifying! In the same way as doing the book on George [Best],” Wayne told us. “I felt so confident at the end of writing that, and I did a book on Jimmy Murphy before. People might disagree, but if you were to name five precious people in United history, Duncan, Jimmy and George are probably in that five. They might even be the top three you’d speak of, in terms of how precious the stories are and how careful you’ve got to be in telling that story. You want to do it because you want to challenge yourself, but also it’s so precious. 

“I thought: I’m going to tell that story by doing it in a contemporaneous way. Yes, I’ll use some interviews from after Duncan passed, but I used a lot of interviews from the time and press reports from at the time. I’ve tried to tell Duncan as he was and try and remove the hyperbole of the post-Munich stuff, so you get an idea of how he actually was. As I was going along, you look at the match reports and you see that there are some teething problems in his game. You can identify them. As you’re telling that story you think: am I actually criticising him here?! But the more I went along I thought: no, actually, this is realistic. Finding the faults and identifying them and talking about them… firstly it humanises him and, secondly, it finds a clearer way to articulating how good he could have been. Once you start addressing how he could improve, you get a clear idea of how he could have improved. After that, I felt on a much more confident footing.”


For Barton, it was vital that Duncan’s family were happy with the book and the messages that it conveys about their iconic relative. “The idea of having something out there that tells the story of Duncan how it was, to a lot a people it might be sacrilege… that you’re scratching away the myth and the legend, but I feel it’s important to do that for some of these people,” said Wayne.

“In analysing his game and what it actually was, you get a fairer picture and it really enhances his legacy. It normalises him. Don’t get me wrong, he was like a comic-book hero at times. That stuff is in there. All the stories – like the one Wilf McGuinness tells about Jimmy saying ‘Just give the ball to Duncan’ – they are true. They are not embellished. The super-human element to it still exists, but you’re putting it the frame of a normal man. That’s what I hope comes across.”

Get your copy of Eternal.