Video: Supporters Anniversary Gathering – 6th Feb 2017
What Happens on Feb 6th?
It has become a tradition for fans to visit Old Trafford on Feb 6th each year to pay their respects to those who perished in the crash. People come and go all day, trying to fit in with their other work and personal commitments. Some leave flowers and poems, some just stand silently, alone with their own thoughts.
The focal point of the day is The Munich Memorial Plaque. Starting at about 2:50pm a short informal anniversary gathering takes place. This aims to be finished by around 3:05pm (the crash actually happened at 3:04pm).
The gathering is organised by fans with, until recently, no involvement from the club – although more of that later.
The first time I attended was in the early 2000’s. It was a fairly simple affair with United fan Gez Mason leading a few hundred fans singing The Flowers of Manchester.
In 2006, Pete Martin took over the role from Gez. Pete is one half of comedy/folk duo Hanky Park. Although Pete leads the singing, he encourages everyone to join in.
In 2008 Pete wrote a new song, “Fifty Years”. This was written especially for the 50th anniversary of the crash. On February 6th 2008, thousands of ordinary fans congregated under the Munich Plaque to remember those who lost their lives. Pete led the fans in the singing of Fifty Years and The Flowers of Manchester. Pete subsequently renamed the song The Pride of Football and has continued to lead the singing of it at every anniversary gathering since.
In 2013, in addition to singing The Flowers of Manchester and The Pride of Football, local United fan Kady Cavannagh, owner of the In Memory of the Munich Air Disaster Facebook page read a poem that he had written about the crash. Kady has read this poem (and sometimes a second one too) at the supporter’s anniversary gathering every year since then.
The Munich Memorial Brochure and Songsheet
In 2015, I was contacted by United who wanted to know if there was anything that they could do to help promote the supporter’s anniversary gathering. I was given assurances that the they were not wanting to take the event over but could see the importance and growth of it. As a result of our email conversations, the Club paid for the printing of a brochure and songsheet designed by Elaine Giles (co-founder of the munich58.co.uk website). They very kindly did this again in 2016.
2016 and 2017: The Rev. Joins Us
In 2016, in addition to Pete and Kady, Steve Douglas, another local United fan, who writes poetry, read out a poem that he had written about The Busby Babes and The Munich Crash. Steve had previously sent me a copy of the poem and I invited him to read it. Also in 2016, we were honoured to have Rev. John Boyers, the Club Chaplain at United, lead the anniversary gathering. Rev. John lead the official 50th anniversary memorial service in 2008 – the one that the players attended.
Resources and Downloads
- Photos and videos that I’ve taken from previous supporters anniversary gatherings can be found on one of my other websites – http://theflowersofmanchester.co.uk/
- Download a copy of The Munich58 Munich Memorial Brochure and Songsheet
- Download a sample of Fifty Years here. To buy a copy of the song on CD, please contact Pete via his website. All proceeds to charity.