I Love Manchester Sport

Robbie Gill

Manchester is a city with a rich history, but one of its foremost legacies is a sporting one. Whilst all sports have been popular in the city since the 1847 factories act reduced the working week, allowing participation from the cities industrial workers, our journey begins in the post war period on a tragic, snow covered runway 1958.

With Matt Busby’s Babes returning from a European Cup quarter final against Red Star Belgrade, the plane made a refueling stop in Munich. Two unsuccessful take off attempts were made and the passengers were asked to disembark and return to the lobby. Snow was falling heavily now and take off was to be delayed until the next day, however with time precious it was decided a third attempt would be made.

This time the plane got close to take off speed but then began to decelerate, with no space to bring the plane to a halt it crashed, out of control, through the airport fence killing eight players, eight journalist, three members of staff and four others. With the team torn apart and manager Busby recovering in hospital, United went on to reach the final of the FA Cup and the semi-final of the European Cup the same year. Busby came back to build another team around the ‘holy trinity’ of Best, Law and Charlton, Munich survivor, and ten years later won the European Cup at Wembley.  Although both City and United had successes before this time, it was the poignant nature of this European triumph which personifies the never say die attitude of a city which refuses to be beaten.

This resilience was shown again by the recovery from the IRA bombing in 1996 which decimated the city centre and injured 212 people. An insurance payout of over 400 million aided the already ongoing redevelopment and Manchester returned to the global stage by hosting the 2002 Commonwealth Games, where athletes from Stretford athletics club represented the country as they have at every major games since United’s triumph in 68. The games showed a city united by sport and defiant in the face of adversity. A trait which was on display once more in 1999 when United turned a one goal deficit around in 5 minutes to complete a historic treble.

Manchester is a city which has produced boxing world champions, international footballers and Olympic gold medalists. It has produced two football teams who sit at the top of the Premiership and has given the world some fantastic sportsmen and sportswomen. The irrepressible qualities that they posses from Ricky Hatton to Paul Scholes embody the sole of the city and serve to prove why any fan of sport should love Manchester.

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