In sports today (especially in football) history is one of the most rendered aspects of a club. For certain clubs, that history deals with some of the personalities that have passed through while for others it deals with the championships that have been won.
However, Manchester United have been one of a very select few clubs that can combine the two. Fans can hear stories of George Best and Eric Cantona, along with some of the championships that the Red Devils have won.
Fans throughout the world have grabbed onto the Manchester United brand and all that has gone with it and have made United into the most supported football club in the world.
Obviously fans have developed nicknames for Manchester United throughout the years. The most common of these nicknames has been the term "Man U."
In many different corners of the world, the Man U term is used to discuss the team. It is used in sports highlights telecasts to basic small talk between friends when talking about Manchester United.
Unfortunately, these fans have been uninformed about the origins of the term of Man U, which started after what is probably the darkest hour in the history of Manchester United.
The date was February 6, 1958. After defeating Yugoslavian side Red Star Belgrade on a 5-4 aggregate score in the quarterfinal of the European Cup, Manchester United's plane flew from Belgrade to Munich, where it was going to take a stop for refueling before flying back to Manchester.
The players that were on Manchester United's roster were known as "Busby's Babes" after famous manager Matt Busby. These players were considered to be the most talented young footballers in England and were the future of the English national team.
These players were exclusively developed by Manchester United and won the league in both 1955-56 and 1956-57 with the average age on the roster during these title-winning rosters being 21 and 22 years old, respectively.
The plane the United were flying in made two attempts to get back into the air at around 2:00 PM local time, but each time the pilots aborted the mission.
Subsequently, the pilots told the players that they were disembarking from the mission and that they would try to fly again the next day.
However, the pilots later had a change of heart and 15 minutes after the players left the plane, they were told to go back onto the plane for the plane's third attempted takeoff.
The players went into the plane scared, with multiple players purposely moving to the back of the plane, fearing the worst.
At 3:03 PM local time, the plane started up and as it moved down the runway, the plane's speed consistently was around 117 knots before the speed started to diminish.
Unfortunately the pilots could not abort the mission and the plane skidded off its runway, through a fence before it clipped a house and several trees before hitting a shed that contained a truck, causing the plane to explode.
On the plane, roughly half of the people were killed instantly. These innocent lives lost were not only some of the Busby Babes, but some also contained members of the media and crew members.
Altogether, there were 23 people who perished in the Munich Air Disaster while 21 were able to survive, nearly all of whom received injuries from the crash.
After the crash, there was one player who was able to survive the crash who later perished due to injuries suffered in the crash. That player was winger Duncan Edwards.
Even though he was just 21 years old, Edwards was viewed as one of the brightest prospects in England's history. He was just 16 when he made his debut for United and was a star for the English national team in qualifying for the 1958 World Cup.
Edwards suffered multiple leg fractures, fractured ribs and severely damaged kidneys from the crash, but his body's reaction to an artificial kidney caused internal bleeding and his body lost the ability to clot blood.
On February 21, 1958, Edwards became the last of the 23 people who perished as a result of the air disaster.
Following the air disaster, seven players were able to return and play for Manchester United (Bobby Charlton, Bill Foulkes, Harry Gregg, Kenny Morgans, Albert Scanlon, Dennis Viollet and Ray Wood) but it took years before Man United returned to the side that they were before the air disaster.
However, due to the air disaster and hatred for Man United, there were chants created to make fun of the Munich Air Disaster.
The first one was created by West Bromwich Albion to make fun of Duncan Edwards: "Duncan Edwards is manure, rotting in his grave, man you are manure rotting in your grave."
That is the chant that created the term "Man U."
The chant that these two created went like this:
"Man U Man U went on a plane. Man U Man U never came back again"
"Man U Never Intended Coming Home" (if you combine the first letter of each word you get the word Munich)
Obviously every club has its own bad supporters, but these chants were the reason why the term "Man U" was created.
Today, most fans who say "Man U" have no idea where the term comes from or what it really means.
They do not understand that it is in face a derogatory term used to make fun of 23 innocent lives that were lost due to the Munich Air Disaster.
From this article, I hope that people will not only stop calling Manchester United "Man U," but we will also start to see this term diminished from popular use.
Even though the Munich Air Disaster happened over 53 years ago, we should never hurt the legacy of the 23 innocent lives that were lost on this day.
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