Doncaster Busby Babe lost in 1958 air disaster

The late Machester United footballer David Pegg.

The late Machester United footballer David Pegg.

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It was the day that a glittering generation of footballers lost their lives in a tragedy that sent shockwaves around the globe.

The date was February 6, 1958 and that’s when disaster unfolded on a snow-covered German airport runway as Manchester United returned from an overseas fixture.

Among those who died in the Munich Air Disaster was Doncaster-born David Pegg.

He was one of the so-called Busby Babes, his life cruelly snuffed out at the age of just 22 in the tragedy which will be remembered once again this weekend.

He was one of the eight Old Trafford aces who died when the plane they were travelling in crashed on a snow-covered runway in the German city.

The tragedy also claimed the lives of three United backroom staff as well as eight sports journalists who had been covering the club’s European Cup tie against Red Star Belgrade.

In total, 23 people died in the terrible disaster which stunned the world.

Peter Whittell, former news editor of The Star sister paper the Doncaster Free Press, a family friend and then a 16-year-old junior reporter, broke the news as scant details of the crash filtered through.

His colleague Michael Parkinson, who of course went on to TV fame, was tasked with reporting the funeral.

David had signed for United on leaving school in 1950 and made his first-team debut in the Football League First Division against Middlesbrough on December 6, 1952, aged 17.

He was the club’s first-choice outside left and collected two League Championship winner’s medals in the two seasons leading up to the disaster, helping them reach the European Cup semi-finals twice and grabbing 24 goals in 127 games. He was capped once for England in 1957 and was tipped by many to succeed Tom Finney in the team.

He is buried at Redhouse Cemetery, with United fans still paying tribute with flowers nearly 60 years on from the tragedy.

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