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The Lost Babes: Manchester United and the Forgotten Victims of Munich Paperback – 1 Feb 2007
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The Lost Babes (subtitled Manchester United and the Forgotten Victims of Munich) is Jeff Connor's compellingly readable account of one of the great tragedies in sporting history and its aftermath. The great manager Matt Busby had forged Manchester United into an invincible team in the 1950s. No one seemed able to halt the progress of these young and immensely talented players as they added the 1955-6 Championship Trophy to their accomplishments, repeating the feat next year. But all this was to change in the most tragic fashion when on the sixth of February, 1958, the plane bringing the team home from Munich crashed, ending the lives of eight of the Manchester United players along with other passengers on the plane. Britain (not just fans of the team) was devastated, as the careers of such talents as Roger Byrne (Englands Captain), Duncan Edwards, Tommy Taylor and Eddie Coleman were ended at a stroke. Connor describes this devastating incident with both vividness and sympathy, but he is equally to be praised for his handling of subsequent events, notably the lives of the players who survived the crash and the families of those who didn't. The Lost Babes describes the inauguration of one of the great football teams in sporting history, and does so against a richly drawn panoply of the Britain of the day. He is unsparing and when describing the aftermath of the plane crash, with the club making the Munich tragedy emblematic while not looking after the survivors or the families and relatives of those who died. Of the surviving members of the team, some were unable to play ever again, and the case of the celebrated Jackie Blanchflower, severely injured in the crash, became a cause célèbre, as he became homeless when he was abruptly removed from the club house very shortly after the accident, with virtually no compensation.
Connor has spoken at length to the victims of the Munich crash, along with many other players (and important figures) of the era, and he makes the case that the resonances of the tragedy have echoed down to the very present, with current surreal and stratospheric payments to modern stars (such as Eric Cantona) throwing into relief the injustices of the past. When so many sports books are anodyne celebrations, Jeff Connor is to be applauded for making such an uncompromising and trenchant book so immensely readable. --Barry Forshaw --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
‘A thorough, and thoroughly moving, piece of work’ Daily Telegraph
‘Highly recommended’ When Saturday Comes
'Covering a lot of ground, this splendid book provides a fascinating insight into many of those affected by the tragedy’ Winger
'Jeff Connor has written a deeply moving account of what happened…Connor's well-researched account is a powerful, enthralling and poignant addition to the growing literature on British soccer.' BBC History Magazine
‘A fascinating memoir' The TimesSee all Product description
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Top customer reviews
'The Lost Babes' is an excellent book, which provides some missing pieces absolutely essential to the Manchester United jigsaw.
As the years pass the number of people who can remember the events of 1958 reduce. And many of those left struggle to get the grey matter working properly. It is thus vital that such books are written whilst there are people around who are capable of providing accurate information which gives both a correct picture and, significantly, an accurate perspective.
Jeff Connor has done such a job and I hope that you will take the time to read his book. You might find that it gives an insight which you do not currently have - you certainly won't unless you are over fifty years of age. The book does not put either the Club or certain individuals in a good light, but that does not surprise me one little bit. One of our most celebrated ex-players, now a director, is shown in his true colours. But then, I've known that for a very, very long time.
I commend this book to you. It gives information which cannot easily be found elsewhere with regard to to some key issues.
With intimate insights into the lives of individuals affected by the Munich disaster, Jeff Connor carefully and respectfully brings to life the grief and trials post Munich; he contrasts the club welcoming publicity about the disaster with their attitudes to the families living with the consequences - sometimes living hand to mouth.
It is clear that the Busby Babes are not the only former football stars who feel let down in retirement, especially in the reflection of Rio Ferdinand and his generation earning £7m a year (more in a week than they received in total over nearly 50 years!) Connor, however, charts a careful course between the rocks of sentimentality and the cliffs of rage at the maltreatment of his fellow man (and boyhood heroes).
I, for one, was deeply moved by the experience of reading this book. I recommend it to all Manchester United fans, particularly younger ones who only remember the eras of Beckham and beyond.
I read the book in less than 2 days as it was to use an overused phrase 'unputdownable', it is not a Manchester United basher on the contrary it is critical of certain individuals who are or were connected to the club.
I,having read the book feel as if I personally knew those who died and also those who survived.
It is the only book that when finished I would want to start reading straight away again.
Putting this focus aside, I found the book really well written and informative. Connor gives space to some of the less feted Babes (Viollet, Blanchflower, Jones, Bent) and tells their stories without neglecting the stories about Duncan Edwards, Gregg and Charlton. What struck me in the end though, however hard to face for a staunch United fan, was that the Busby Babes might not have been the legends they now are if they not been struck by tragedy. Liam "Billy" Whelan had lost his place to Charlton, Roger Byrne was aging, Wood was losing his place to Gregg, Pegg was out of the side, Geoff Cope was a permanent sub, Scanlon survived but was never a really top player and so on.
In the end maybe the Busby Babes were protected from the harsh realities of football by the fact that they never reached the point of being dropped, replaced and sold. On the other hand see what Charlton achieved and think what Edwards, Taylor and Colman might have done. A really moving read for any United fan with an eye to history.
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