The Munich air disaster occurred on 6 February 1958 when British European Airways flight 609 crashed on its third attempt to take off from a slush-covered runway at Munich-Riem Airport, West Germany. On the plane was the Manchester United football team, nicknamed the ‘Busby Babes’, along with supporters and journalists. The disaster takes the lives of eight Manchester United players including Dublin born Liam (Billy) Whelan and fourteen others. Fifteen days later, Duncan Edwards whom many regard as the greatest player ever to wear the famous red jersey would die from his injuries.
Twenty-two year old Billy Whelan averaged a goal every two games in less than three years he was with United. In the 1956/57 season, he was the club’s top scorer with 26 goals in just 39 games.
A commemorative stamp of Liam Whelan was issued by the Irish Post Office on the fiftieth anniversary of the Munich disaster. The clock face shows the time of the accident when the BEA plane slid off the freezing runway on its third take off attempt. Partly because of this emotional event and the city’s proximity to Ireland, Manchester United have a huge fan base in Ireland.
The crash was caused by slush on the runway, which slowed the plane too much to take off.