Let’s take a moment to remember the only fan who was on board that ill fated aircraft – Willie Satinoff. It’s always been a sadness to me that he tends to be forgotten on the anniversaryday, and I just wish that there was some formal recognition of him in some way at Old Trafford, maybe in the form of a small plaque. He was one of us – a fan – who loved the Club, loved the team, and gave his life following them.
The following is the introduction to a piece I wrote for MUST/RN and will give you a little insight as to how fate played such a huge part in United’s future. George Whittaker bitterly opposed any recommendation of Louis Edwards as a Director at Manchester United. Willie would certainly have become a member of the board, but all within a week, Whittaker died, Willie died, and and on Saturday, February 8th 1958, at an emergency Board Meeting, Edwards was opted onto the Board as a Director.
On Friday, January 31st 1958, the Manchester United team, officials, and directors, traveled down to London in readiness for the team’s fixture against Arsenal which was to be played at Highbury the following afternoon. On Saturday morning, February 1st 1958, one of the Manchester United directors, Mr. George Whittaker, a Manchester business man, was found dead in bed in his hotel room. He had passed away in his sleep during the night. That afternoon, as a mark of respect, players from both teams wore black armbands, and a minutes silence was observed by both teams and the 55,000 fans attending, prior to the match kicking off.
The game itself is widely remembered, even today, because that cold, grey, February afternoon, United triumphed in a feast of football and goals, by 5-4. Sadly, for some United players, it was to be the last game of football that they ever played on their home, British soil.
The party traveled back to Manchester by train immediately after the game, and the players and manager were in a very buoyant mood given their display at Highbury just a few hours earlier. Accompanying the party that day was a supporter; another Manchester business man by the name of Willie Satinoff. Mr. Satinoff had made his money in the cotton trade in and around the Manchester area. Outside of his business interests, his main pass time was following Manchester United Football Club, and he was fanatical in his support for his beloved club.
Willie was close to Matt Busby. So close in fact, that he had traveled with the United team on all of their European exploits since their journey began in the 1956/57 season. So it was that on February 3rd, 1958, he was the only fan traveling with the team out to Belgrade for the forthcoming return European Cup Quarter Final tie against the Red Star Belgrade club. At that time, it was commonly known within Manchester football circles, that Willie was being tipped to soon become a director at the Club which he was so fanatical about.
Sadly, his hopes and dreams of attaining this position were shattered by the events of Thursday, February 6th, 1958. Willie paid the ultimate price for following his beloved United when he perished in that terrible accident on a snowy afternoon on the runway of the airport in Munich, Germany. Since that date, Willie Satinoff has fast become the forgotten man of Munich. Reams of paper have been written about events; radio and t.v. documentaries have covered the incident in great detail, but apart from Willie Satinoff’s name being listed amongst those that perished, he never ever, gets a mention.
His resting place is passed by every day without notice, as hundreds of people make their way by various means along one of Manchester’s busiest throroughfares. Many I suspect are fervent Manchester United fans, who today, given the length of time that has passed since the accident happened, wouldn’t even know who Willie Satinoff was. For those of you that may be interested, he rests in the Jewish section of the Southern Cemetery, Manchester, almost adjacent to the Manchester Crematorium.
As you walk down Barlow Moor Road towards Princess Parkway, and pass by the Crematorium, there is a little gate which allows you entrance into the Jewish section of Southern Cemetery. Willie’s resting place is just down on the right hand side of the path, after you have passed through the gate. Unpretentious, just a plain black marble stone, sadly highlighting the details of the date, and where, this United fan passed away.
That Willie has never ever been recognized in any way, by the Club, or anybody else for that matter, has always saddened me. But then again, why ever would he be? He was just a fan. But for me, he is an integral part of the Munich story, and one day, I would hope to see some kind of plaque erected to his memory at Old Trafford.
Getting to Dudley isn’t easy. In 1964, its town centre railway station fell victim to Dr Richard Beeching’s sweeping cuts across the country and today the town is served by satellite stops on its perimeter. Main roads sweep in from Wolverhampton in the north and Birmingham to the east, but on a harsh December day it’s a mile-long trudge across slushy pavements.
Dudley Castle guards the approach. It sits solemnly in the rain and dark cloud, sentry-like on a hill, and visitors pass underneath as they climb towards the town itself. Sam Allardyce was born here, Lenny Henry too, and even one half of Hale and Pace can trace his roots back to this part of the Black Country. It’s very much what you might expect from somewhere once at the vanguard of the Industrial Revolution: a place with a keen sense of its own history, but where modernity remains elusive.
The statue appears almost immediately, sitting at the head of a bustling street market with traffic flowing to the side. The eyes are fixed intently on the ball at its feet, arm and leg muscles are bulging, and the figure, with England’s crest on his front and the number six on his back, is coiled for one more booming shot.
This is where Duncan Edwards was born. This is where he lies today, too.
Edwards is English football’s background silhouette. In 2018, it will be sixty years since his fight for life ended in that Munich hospital and yet the broad outline of who he was – and what he might have one day been – remains remarkably vivid. But it is only a broad outline; Edwards’ legend is constructed almost solely from anecdotes and for younger generations he exists only in the wind.
Certain aspects of his life have been preserved forever. We know that Sir Bobby Charlton has always believed him to be the finest player he ever lined up alongside or against. We also know, of course, that Charlton played with George Best, Bobby Moore and Denis Law, and against Pele, Franz Beckenbauer and Eusebio. We’re also aware of the anecdotes that have woven the texture of his legend: the power, skill and humility, and the 15-day rejection of his own mortality.
Dig deeper, in fact, and you find a list of tales which would make Paul Bunyan blush. James Leighton’s detailed biography of Edwards, The Greatest, contains stories of schoolboy games in which ferocious shots would strike goalkeepers and rebound the length of the field. Opponents are also regularly reduced to a mess of limbs by his ferocious tackling and Edwards, seemingly, would regularly surge the length of the field, scattering defenders like bowling pins.
The accounts of him as a teenager are described vividly and earnestly. And, ultimately, they depict him more as a character from Homer’s Iliad than professional football. To a contemporary audience, conditioned to believe in the awfulness of everything, it’s a tough sell and yet, somehow, Edwards remains alive in the modern consciousness.
It’s a difficult relationship to define. Nobody under the age of 70 is old enough to have actually watched him and he played in an era long before every touch of the ball was archived and recorded for posterity. In fact, even the footage which does exist is only useful in the abstract. Edwards can be found on YouTube, but while those clips do hint at his power and often show him surging past opponents, the context does him an obvious disservice. It looks like an entirely different sport.
And yet he endures. In spite of natural cynicism and the way the game has changed, there remains a great reverence. Most never got to watch him and fewer still know the sound of his voice, but nobody in this country would ever challenge the theory of his greatness.
Perhaps that’s because Edwards, the idea, is so seductive. He was a character the government might use to encourage children to drink milk, perhaps, or could easily have been cast as the hero figure in a military recruitment poster. Big and strong, honourable and pure. With time’s passing his role has receded but, you suspect, for a long time his was the reflection English football wanted to see when it looked in the mirror. To this day, he embodies almost all of the celebrated, timeless tenets of the sport in this country and so, unlikely as it sounds, his name continues to chime with those ideals.
Walk past the market, beyond main streets and up past the parish church, and the road descends almost into a valley. The cemetery, a few hundred yards down, slopes to the left and is walled by black iron railings. The graves are clustered and bunched together and the settled snow urges respect, but take the path and he’s there.
His headstone is in perfect condition. Even in the dead of winter it gleams. Were it not for a few bedraggled Manchester United scarves and some drooping flowers, it could well have been laid yesterday. In The Footballer Who Could Fly, Duncan Hamilton tells the story of how in the years following his son’s death, Gladstone Edwards worked as a gardener in the cemetery, directing those who wished to pay their respects to the right plot. Following his own passing and the death of his wife, another relative has tended the grave every fortnight.
Maybe that’s as close as it’s possible to get to Edwards now. In Dudley Cemetery he remains a footballer, but also just a young man who died many years before either of his parents. There’s no warm hyperbole, it’s just stark and upsetting. His transcendent quality, according to authors, sportswriters and teammates, was life. Energy, lots of it. This is no place for someone who should still be taking curtain calls at Old Trafford.
If the colourful portraits of Edwards are to be treated with license and the footage of him playing is too archaic to be truly relevant, then perhaps the only way to grasp what he was and what he meant is through the accounts of the grief that followed his death. Bobby Moore remembers sobbing at the news, Bobby Charlton was evidently deeply wounded by the loss, and Matt Busby was consumed by survivor’s guilt for Edwards and the others who perished in Munich.
Elsewhere, the books and articles which recall the public reaction describe a communal mourning, a sense that the country itself fractured with a sense of loss. In the chapter on Edwards in his book, Hamilton recalls a conversation with his father:
‘All the miners on my father’s shift were football fans. The game sustained them. Some couldn’t bring themselves to drink a pint that day or the one after. It seemed disrespectful to enjoy yourself.’
Although clearly a response accentuated by the magnitude of Munich and the number of lives lost, it portrays the depth of feeling towards those players and implies the necessity of perpetual awareness. For Edwards, the grief was multiplied by that awful, never-ending ellipsis in his career and, as time passed, the knowledge that he could and should have been properly immortalised at Wembley in 1966 and again in 1968.
The response to him, then and now, is part recognition for his humble beginnings, his humility, and his footballing ability, but also a determination to reward him with the gravitas that he would have earned had he survived. To give him what he deserved but didn’t have the time to claim. It’s as if, generation to generation, our unspoken, unprompted duty is to keep carrying him through the streets forever.
I apologise if: 1) this is a copyright infringement. If it is, the mods are more than welcome to tell me to delete this post; 2) if it raises painful memories. Just thought to share some of my favourite bits of the book.
"United’s flag is deepest red, it shrouded all our Munich dead. Before their limbs grew stiff and cold, their heart’s blood dyed it’s ev’ry fold. Then raise United’s banner high, beneath it’s shade we’ll live and die. So keep the faith and never fear."
* Minute’s silence to be observed at game against Huddersfield * Special ceremony to be held at Old Trafford on Tuesday 6 February
Manchester United will pay its respects to all the victims of the Munich Air Disaster with commemorations at Old Trafford to mark the 60th anniversary of the tragedy.
Players, staff and supporters will observe a minute’s silence ahead of kick-off in the Premier League game against Huddersfield Town on Saturday 3 February.
Fans will pay their respects outside the ground on the same day, from 13.30 GMT, with their annual event consisting of readings and prayers, along with a rendition of 'the Flowers of Manchester' song under the Munich plaque at the south-east corner of the Old Trafford forecourt.
Supporters attending the game will receive a commemorative pack containing a limited-edition book telling the story of the disaster, along with a complimentary copy of the matchday programme, United Review, which will include tributes to those affected by the crash.
On the anniversary of the crash (Tuesday 6 February), the club will hold a commemorative service inside Old Trafford, which supporters are welcome to attend. All season-ticket holders over the age of 65 will be invited but other supporters are welcome to attend.
Turnstiles in the lower East Stand will be open from 13.45 GMT, before the event, which will include readings and poems from 14:45 GMT, ahead of a minute’s silence at 15:04 GMT, marking the time of the fatal plane crash 60 years ago. Supporters will be advised to arrive early, as the usual matchday security checks will be in place.
Deleted: 'indonesian wizard'
May 10, 2018 18:27:15 GMT
WhatsTheMata: Glad you think it's funny. When we get fucked around by the spells you just deleted you will take me seriously
May 19, 2018 11:57:48 GMT
No.7: Can this thread be unlocked or is it too early? not that i want Jose out now but i think were coming close to that time and want to hear peoples opinions on the subject.
Sept 20, 2018 10:15:25 GMT
cjjagzmoni: Pogba is a good lad minus the showboating..I think at Juventus he had Older players like Pirlo,Chiellini,Marchisio,Bonucci who shout and screams at him so he was more serious at Juve ,We dont have those type of leaders at United to caution him.
Nov 1, 2018 3:36:38 GMT
geo: Cardiff City - Huddersfield Town - Bournemouth - Newcastle United = 12 points. Back in the hunt. Come on.
Dec 19, 2018 17:55:18 GMT
geo: Job done as above - next step, stay unbeaten until we get to the PSG game.
Jan 3, 2019 23:17:42 GMT
theedge: Just discovered this forum. I live in Canada so don't get to many games, but I get to watch all the games live. Last 2 games attended in person: Europa League Final in Stockholm 2017, FA Cup Final 2016. Won the last 11 I've been to. I need to go more often
Apr 1, 2019 23:25:01 GMT
simes: Kazakhstan....well blow me down...been there many a time, not so bad a journey. FC Astana are not a bad outfit, gave Celtic a good run, and the National side beat Scotland. What do you reckon a walk over? BTW its easy to get to, I always use Air Astana.
Aug 30, 2019 14:11:59 GMT
snan1218: Hi,I'm very new member,the Red Devil from Malaysia.
Oct 10, 2019 9:16:40 GMT
shah: Hi i am shah been united fan from birec
Jan 24, 2020 8:33:02 GMT