Re-Publishing historical football content digitally

Manchester United 1955-56 – The Busby Babes

By on 21 September 2017

This picture taken from the February 1957 issue of Charles Buchan’s Football Monthly shows, we believe, the Manchester United starting XI against Aston Villa played on 15th October 1955. The game ended in a 4-4 draw, with David Pegg scoring two and Jackie Blanchflower and Colin Webster chipping in the others.

Of this XI, four were to die in the February 1958 Munich air crash; two missed the flight due to injury/illness; four were survivors – but two, Blanchflower and Berry, were never to play again; another one, Whitefoot, was transferred in 1957. Missing from the picture – assume due to injury was the late, great Duncan Edwards.

This team would create its own history by lifting consecutive English Championships (1955-56 and 1956-57) , and by defying the English football authorities by becoming the first English team to compete in the European Cup. Only Bill Foulkes of that team would ever have a normal football career with United and he, along with Bobby Charlton would be the only survivors of Munich to finally win the European Cup with United in 1968.

To read how Charles Buchan covered the disaster in the March 1958 issue, the month after the disaster, click here.

Otherwise, hover or tap on individual team members on the team photo to get a brief “pen-pic” of the players’ careers.

Manchester United 1955-56

Manchester United 1955-56

Jeff Whitefoot Bill Foulkes Ray Wood Mark Jones Jackie Blanchflower Wilf McGuinness Johnny Berry Colin Webster Roger Byrne Tommy Taylor David Pegg

Jeff Whitefoot

Debuted for United against Portsmouth in April 1950 aged just 16 and was the youngest ever player in the history of the club to start a league match at that time. After 95 appearances in seven years, he left the club to join Grimsby in 1957. He is now the sole surviving member of the 1955-56 title winning Manchester Utd side.

Bill Foulkes

Represented Man Utd from 1951 to 1970 – a one club player – making a total 688 appearances. While with the club he won four First Division titles, one FA Cup and one European Cup. He was also capped once for England in 1955. After retiring from football he had a career in management and coaching, mostly abroad. He died on 25th November 2013 aged 81.

Ray Wood

After just 12 appearances for Darlington, Ray Wood joined Manchester Utd in 1949 where would stay until 1958 making 178 league appearances. He is famous for having his jaw broken via a shoulder charge from Villa’s Peter McParland in the 1957 FA Cup final. Played just one more game for United post-Munich before leaving for Huddersfield in 1958. He died of a heart attack in July 2002 aged 71.

Mark Jones

Joined United in 1950 making 120 appearances before losing his life at Munich aged just 24. Missed the 1957 FA Cup Final defeat to Aston Villa because of an eye injury, but did win a second successive league title medal that season and helped the Reds reach the semi-finals of the European Cup. He was selected in an England squad just once but never came on.

Jackie Blanchflower

Made debut for United against Liverpool at Anfield in November 1951. He would go on to make 105 league appearances scoring 26 goals. A versatile player, he played wing half, inside forward and centre half. He also played in goal when Ray Wood went off injured in the 1957 FA Cup final. He represented N. Ireland 12 times before his injuries from the Munich air crash curtailed his career. Post football Became an accountant and was a regular after- dinner speaker until his death from cancer in 1998 aged 65.

Wilf McGuinness

Famous for succeeding Sir Matt Busby as manager of Manchester Utd, the club was also his only one as a player making 81 league appearances between 1954 and 1959. Missed the Munich trip due to injury. He was capped twice by England before a broken leg ended his career in the 1959-60 season aged just 22. Still works as a match-day host for United.

Johnny Berry

A right winger who joined United from Birmingham City in 1951. Between 1951 and 1958 he made 277 appearances for United scoring 44 times and winning three Championship medals. Never played again after the Munich air crash. After retiring from football he ran a sports business and then later was a store man at a warehouse. He died in 1994 aged 68.

Colin Webster

The Welsh striker was spotted by United Coach Jimmy Murphy and signed for them in 1952 from Cardiff City. Over next 6 years he made just 65 league appearances scoring 26 times. However, was a regular at the time of the Munich air crash, but did not travel with the team due to illness. He remained at the club for one year after the tragedy and played in the 1958 FA Cup final collecting a runners-up medal to add to his one Championship medal. Left in 1958 to join Swansea before finishing professional career at Newport. Later became a scaffolder and park ranger. Died in 2001 aged 68 from lung cancer.

Roger Byrne

Regarded as one of the legendary captains of United as he led the Busby Babes from left back. Played 280 games for United scoring 20 times and won three Championship medals. Also capped 33 times for England between 1954-57. Lost his life in the Munich air crash 2 days before his 29th birthday - and a few months before his only child, a son, was born.

Tommy Taylor

Having made the grade with his local club Barnsley, Matt Busby paid £29,999 for the centre-forward in 1952 (Busby didn't want Taylor to have the stigma of being a "£30,000 player"). Was an instant success and led the line scoring 131 goals in 191 appearances, winning two Championship medals. Capped 19 times by England scoring 16 goals. Killed instantly in Munich air crash a few days after his 26th birthday.


David Pegg

The left-winger from Yorkshire joined United from school in 1950 and made his debut aged 17 in 1952.  He was still only 22 when he died in Munich, having made 127 league appearances, scoring 24 league goals and won two Championship medals. Had also made his England debut in 1957 and was being tipped as Nat Lofthouse's successor in the England XI.

Duncan Edwards - CBFM March 1958 issue

Duncan Edwards – CBFM March 1958. We think missing from the team shot due to injury

One panel of the stained glass window tribute to Duncan Edwards at his home church in Dudley, West Midlands

Manchester United Gifts From SoccerAttic

If Manchester United is a passion for you or a loved one this picture of the 1955-56 side from the original Charles Buchan magazine is available to buy online.  Click on the image to visit our shop and buy the mugs where you can also buy posters featuring the same images.