Author Topic: Sir Matt Busby - 10 years ago today  (Read 7472 times)

Offline Rushian

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Sir Matt Busby - 10 years ago today
« on: January 20, 2004, 10:12:44 am »
10 years ago today one of the great men of football, Sir Matt Busby, died. Famous throughout the world of football for his achievements as the manager of our great rivals Manchester United, Busby was also an outstanding player and played for Liverpool in the years running up to the Second World War.

Originating from the mining area of Lanarkshire that also saw the emergence of our own Bill Shankly and Celtic's immortal Jock Stein, Busby would form a holy trinity of great managers with his two countrymen.

He started his playing career as an inside forward but switched to right half early on at Manchester City. It proved an inspired decision and Busby's elegant play and brilliant use of the ball led The Guardian in 1935 to say "In Matt Busby, City have at best a player who has no superior as an attacking half-back".

Capped by Scotland while at Maine Road, Busby joined Liverpool for £8,000 from Manchester City in March 1936 and was immediately made captain. He led the team with distinction under new manager George Kay but as with many players at the time found the peak years of his career lost between 1939 and 1945. On declaration of war Busby was among several Anfield players who immediately signed up with the King's Liverpool Regiment.

Just prior to the war Busby was to meet a man who would remain a close friend throughout his life, Bob Paisley. Paisley was signed as a young player from Bishop Auckland in May 1939 and immediately taken under the wing of his captain. Paisley said of him "He was a man you could look up to and respect. He'd played the game and people like him weren't solely tied down with tactics, which was a valuable lesson for me".

As the war came to a close and football returned to the national agenda Liverpool offered Matt a position as club coach but before he could take up the appointment Manchester United offered him their vacant manager's job and Liverpool chairman Billy McConnell persuaded the Reds' board to release him.

The club he took over was in disarray and considered the second team in their city. They also had to play their games at Maine Road up until 1948 due to bomb damage at Old Trafford. Though Liverpool were to win the first post war title it didn't take long for Busby to make his mark and the FA Cup in 48 and League in 52 soon followed.

Through the mid 50s Busby replaced his ageing team with a collection of exciting youngster's who would become famous as the Busby Babes. League titles followed in 56 and 57 but then tragedy struck on February 6th 1958. On returning home from the second leg of a Europan Cup quarter final against Red Star Belgrade, the team plane crashed on a stopover at Munich airfield killing twenty of the aircraft's passengers, including eight of the players and severely injuring Busby.

In the aftermath of the disaster Liverpool along with Nottingham Forest offered to loan Manchester Utd players so they could fulfill their fixtures, Busby's links with our Reds remaining strong. On recovering from his life-threatening injuries Busby was determined to rebuild his side and win the European Cup in honour of those lost in Munich. He was to set about his task with a passion.

It was during this rebuilding period that a great managerial rivalry was born. Down the East Lancs Road a Glenbuck Cherrypicker was effecting a revolution at Anfield. Bill and Matt knew each other well and had played together for Scotland in wartime internationals including a famous 5-4 win over England at Hampden.

The managerial rivalry of Shankly and Busby would be synomynous with 60s football and Liverpool and Manchester United would go on to share four titles between 1964 and 1967. In 1968, ten years after the Munich Disaster, Busby achieved his holy grail and with a 4-1 win over Benfica at Wembley he became the first manager to win the European Cup with an English side.

As ever Busby was inexocrably linked to his Scottish peers; Stein and Celtic had become the first British side to lift the trophy the year before and Shankly's best chance infamously blunted by Inter Milan and a corrupt referee in 1965. Liverpool would have to wait until Busby's great friend Paisley steered us to Rome in 1977 before we could taste the ultimate in European glory.

Busby was knighted for his achievements in 1968 and just a year later had retired from management. He remained at Old Trafford in a range of increasingly senior roles ending up as club president in 1982.

Many argued he cast too great a shadow over the club and this was partly to blame for the failures of subsequent managers in the next 24 years but that is a simplistic and false argument. Sir Matt died on 20th January 1994 aged 85 having seen his club win their first title in 26 years - their first since he was in charge.

While Sir Matt Busby will always be remembered for re-building Manchester United and surviving the Munich air disaster, he should also be remembered as a man of integrity and honour, a Red player of note, and a great captain.

Sir Matt Busby
Born 26th May 1909 Bellshill, Lanarkshire
Died 20th January 1994 Cheadle, Staffordshire
Liverpool debut: 14th March 1936 v Huddersfield Town (away) Football League Division One: Lost 0-1
1st team games: 125  1st team goals: 3
International caps: Scottish International
Other clubs: Manchester City 1929-36 (FA Cup winner 1934)
Managerial career: Manchester United 1945-69 (5 League titles, 2 FA Cups, 1 European Cup)
« Last Edit: January 20, 2004, 11:25:35 am by Rushian »
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Offline Eli_B (aka Badland Red)

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Re: Sir Matt Busby - 10 years ago today
« Reply #1 on: January 20, 2004, 07:24:32 pm »
R.I.P to Sir Matt - A true managerial icon. Excellent article Rushian.
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Offline Arthur

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Re: Sir Matt Busby - 10 years ago today
« Reply #2 on: January 22, 2004, 12:02:12 am »

A reminder to me that football is only a game. Nice one Rushian.
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Re: Sir Matt Busby - 10 years ago today
« Reply #3 on: June 18, 2004, 06:44:59 pm »
I am doing a bit of research about Matt Busby during his playing days and i cam across your site. I'm a Manc Red but I just wanted to say that you've done a really good feature on Sir Matt,
Thanks Rushian!

Offline BSBW

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Re: Sir Matt Busby - 10 years ago today
« Reply #4 on: June 19, 2004, 11:44:31 pm »
Not just a great footballer and manager.  A Knight of our great Island, RIP.
« Last Edit: June 28, 2004, 05:52:54 pm by BSBW »
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