United for Duncan - former players, friends and family pay tribute to the Black Country football great
Former players, friends and family came together to celebrate the life of Black Country football great Duncan Edwards at a tribute dinner.
From his Dudley roots to his championship winning days with Manchester United as a member of the Busby Babes - the event paid homage to his lasting legacy.
Among the guests for the dinner at Copthorne Hotel were former Wolves, Villa, Preston and Manchester United manager Tommy Docherty and West Bromwich Albion captain and Welsh International Graham Williams.
They were joined by Manchester United coach Nicky Butt, Wolves legend Steve Bull and Halesowen Town Football Club president Colin Brookes.
Mr Docherty said: “This is a wonderful tribute to a wonderful footballer and most of all a wonderful man. He was the greatest player I played against and that was in an era of some fantastic footballers.”
Mr Williams, who served in the army at the same time as Duncan, said: “He was remarkable – a legend even as a young man. He was a fantastic footballer who just seemed so big and powerful – a man really in his youth. I was a confident player and frightened of no-one but I couldn’t see how I could match up to him.
“This a wonderful tribute to him – and as a West Brom man I hope the Black Country is truly proud of as they say today, ‘one of our own’.”
School friends of Duncan's also joined in the celebration dinner as well as some of his relatives.
Jim Bradley attended Priory Primary School with Duncan and they played lots of youth football together.
He said: “He was a great bloke who was never boastful but could easily have been because he was such an amazing footballer. We went into the army together and played football together a lot and I knew him up until the time the tragedy happened.
“The Black Country was a tough place back then and he was typical of the area - he was a fighter and he fought for his life until the very end. Sadly, we never got to know how good he might have been as he was taken from us too soon but we’ll never forget him.”
While Brian Woodall, who played for Kates Hill when he was 10, remembers what it was like to play against Duncan.
"We lost 10-1 and Duncan played in defence but scored six of the goals. That summed Duncan up. He was different class and an absolutely brilliant footballer but modest with it. I’m delighted to be part of this tribute in my own small way.”
The tribute dinner is part of a programme of events to mark the 60th anniversary of Duncan's death.
Duncan, who made 177 appearances for Manchester United, scoring 21 goals – as well as winning 18 caps for England, was just 21 when he died following the Munich air disaster in 1958.
Tribute organiser Jim Cadman: “Ever since we started on the Duncan Edwards Tribute some 18 months ago, the people who have come forward with their stories and memorabilia we have gathered has surpassed everything we could have hoped for.
"This dinner, for now, is the culmination of a lot of effort but only the start of the journey as the archive will be rolled out in months and years to come to help keep the memory of Duncan Edwards alive – the greatest sportsman the Black Country has ever produced and possibly England’s greatest ever footballer.”
The commemorations also included the publication of a book, titled Black Country Boy to Red Devil, released on what would have been Edwards’ 82nd birthday.