Today marks the 60th anniversary of the 1958 Munich Air Disaster which claimed the lives of 23 people including eight Manchester United footballers. The tragedy occurred when a plane carrying the squad, management and a number of journalists stopped in the German city on the way home from Yugoslavia where United had just beaten Red Star Belgrade to qualify for the semi-finals of the European Cup. After two failed take-offs attempts, the aircraft hit slush at the end of the runway and crashed through a a fence, hitting a house on the way.
Among those who perished was Cabra native Liam 'Billy' Whelan' who was only 22-years-old when the accident took place. The Dubliner was an integral part of the talented team nicknamed the 'Busby Babes', in honour of its respected manager Matt Busby and the youthful nature of most of the players in the side. Whelan also represented the Republic Of Ireland on four occasions and was regarded as a player of huge potential before his life was tragically cut short alongside his friends and team mates. He is quoted to have said "Well, if this is the time, then I’m ready," before the airplane met its tragic demise.
To mark the 60th anniversary today, ceremonies are taking place at Manchester United's Old Trafford stadium. A minute’s silence will be held at 3.04pm, marking the time of the fatal crash in 1958 and survivors, supporters and current players are set to gather to pay their respects.
Whelan is remembered in his hometown of Cabra by the Liam Whelan Bridge on Fassaugh Road, which was renamed in his honour in 2006.