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Football and the First World War

I am currently writing a book on Football and the First World War based on the article of the same name on this website.

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See reviews of Rob Cavallini's The Wanderers FC, and Around The World In 95 Games.


Sir Matt Busby

Matt Busby built three championship-winning sides over an incredible twenty-six year period as manager of Manchester United and is without doubt the founding father of Manchester United as a major force in world football..

Matt Busby was born in 1909 in the mining town of Orbiston in Lanarkshire. It was a tough upbringing with Busby losing both his father and all his uncles in the First World War. 

After 1945, and with his playing days over at the age of 36, Matt Busby was offered a job on the coaching staff at Anfield but chose instead to take the manager's post at Manchester United.  He built a side which finished runners-up four times in five years.  The title finally arrived in 1951-52, adding to an FA Cup victory over Blackpool in 1948.

By the mid-1950s his new team, dubbed the 'Busby Babes', looked as if it would dominate football for many years.  There were successive league championships in 1956 and 1957.  On a return trip from a successful European Cup quarter-final tie against Red Star Belgrade that the side was all but wiped out.  Eight players lost their lives at Munich on 6 February 1958 and Busby himself was given last rites.

Busby recovered and went on to build yet another great side in the 1960s.  Names like George Best and Denis Law were added to Munich survivors Bobby Charlton and Bill Foulkes.  United won the FA Cup in 1963 and championships in 1965 and 1967.  The realisation of a long-held dream came at Wembley on 29 May 1968, when his side beat Benfica 4-1 in the European Cup FInal.  He was knighted for his achievements in the same year, retiring three years later.  Busby died in 1994 a regular at United games right up to the end.