Sir Jim Ratcliffe joins Sir Alex Ferguson to mark Munich Air Disaster anniversary at Old Trafford

  • Watch the highlights from the memorial service at Old Trafford

Sir Jim Ratcliffe and Sir Alex Ferguson joined Manchester United fans at Old Trafford on Tuesday afternoon to mark the 66th anniversary of the Munich air disaster.

The crash took the lives of 23 people, including eight first team players.

Each year, fans and club officials gather underneath the Munich clock at Old Trafford to mark the passing of the Babes and all those on the ill-fated flight that was returning from Belgrade in 1958.

INEOS' Sir Jim Ratcliffe and Sir Dave Brailsford pay their respects Credit: PA Images

Sir Jim Ratcliffe and Sir Dave Brailsford, who will soon be taking control of football operations at United attended the event for the first time.

They were joined by former manager Sir Alex Ferguson, Manchester Metro Mayor Andy Burnham and current manager Erik Ten Hag and club captain Bruno Fernandes.

Sir Alex Ferguson attended the service Credit: PA Images

Ratcliffe has visited United on several occasions, including January’s draw with Tottenham, and was joined at the ceremony by Ineos director of sport Sir Dave Brailsford.

The incoming minority owner arrived at the ceremony alongside Sir Alex Ferguson.

United greats Paddy Crerand and Brian Kidd were others in attendance, as were first-team manager Erik ten Hag and women’s team boss Marc Skinner.

The captains of those respective teams, Bruno Fernandes and Katie Zelem, were also among those at the fan-led service in the pouring rain.

Former player and assistant Mike Phelan represented the club at a separate memorial event at Manchesterplatz in Munich.

Outside Old Trafford, former club chaplain Rev John Boyers acted as master of ceremonies.

There were readings, songs from supporters and a minute’s silence at 3.04pm – the moment the plane crashed in 1958.

There was a further pause of remembrance for key figures around United that have died since the last Munich memorial.

There are now no living survivors of the crash, after the death of Sir Bobby Charlton last year. He survived the crash and went on to win the European Cup alongside Manager Sir Matt Busby.

The British European Airways Flight 609 crashed while trying to take off from Munich Airport in the snow and ice.

The memorial at Manchesterplatz in Germany has also become the focal point of remembrance to those who died in the disaster. This year, hundreds travelled to the Bavarian capital to pat their respects.

Erik Ten Hag and Bruno Fernandes Credit: PA Images

  • On the 60th anniversary of the crash, Mancunian poet David Scott produced this poem for Granada Reports

Fans turned out in the rain for the service Credit: PA Images

Towards the end of the ceremony, Rev Boyers said: “Today is about a great sadness. We have remembered together a tragic chapter in the history of Manchester United.

“But the years after that tell of hope, and of glory that replaced despair and mourning.

“And in that next chapter of the United story after Munich, surely we find hope.

“I say to you again, remain hopeful for your club and its future.”

For the club, the disaster changed everything and at first, there was speculation that the club would fold.

United completed the 1957–58 season, with Busby's assistant Jimmy Murphy standing in as manager because he had not travelled to Belgrade as he was in Cardiff managing the Welsh national team.

A generation of footballers who changed English football were lost in the crash.

The first match after the disaster against Sheffield Wednesday was played by a team made up of reserve and youth team players.

The programme for that match showed simply a blank space where each United player's name should have been.

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