Remembering Doncaster Busby Babe David Pegg on 64th anniversary of Munich Air Disaster

Exactly 64 years ago today, football suffered its darkest day when a glittering generation of footballers lost their lives in a tragedy that sent shockwaves around the globe.

By Darren Burke
Sunday, 6th February 2022, 1:16 pm

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

Among those who lost their lives in the Munich Air Disaster was Doncaster-born starlet David Pegg.

He was one of the eight so-called Busby Babes who died, his life cruelly snuffed out at the age of just 22.

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Doncaster Busby Babe David Pegg.

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.

Former Doncaster Free Press news editor Peter Whittell, a family friend and then a 16-year-old junior reporter, who sadly died in 2019, broke the news as scant details filtered through.

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

And there was another Doncaster connection too.

Former Doncaster Rovers' keeper Harry Gregg, who had joined the Red Devils just a few months earlier, was one of the heroes, pulling team-mates from the burning plane.

Among them were Bobby Charlton, Jackie Blanchflower and Dennis Viollet - and a pregnant woman - and Gregg was lauded as a national hero.

David meanwhile had signed for United on leaving school in 1950 and made his first team debut in the Football League First Division against Middlesbrough on 6 December 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, his solitary appearance coming 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 to him with flowers more than sixty years on from the tragedy.