Mark Jones (15th June 1933 to 6th February 1958)

 

Here I am at the headstone of Mark Jones, a footballer who died instantly due to slush on an airport runway. He was one of the ďBusby BabesĒ Manchester United football team, a 6 feet 1 inch high, pipe-smoking centre-half who died instantly when the aeroplane crashed when attempting to take off in terrible conditions.

 

The plane crash known as the Munich air disaster occurred on 6th February 1958 at Munich-Riem Airport, West Germany. British European Airways flight 609 tried to take off on its third attempt. Aboard were 44 people, the Manchester United football team known as the "Busby Babes", supporters and journalists. Twenty people died immediately and another three died having been taken to Rechts der Isar Hospital in Munich.

 

The football team had played a game in Belgrade (now Serbia). On the way home the flight stopped to refuel in Munich. Two attempts were made to take off. The Captain was worried they would get behind schedule if they didnít want to stay the night in Germany. By the time they tried a third take off snow was falling and slush had formed at the end of the runway. The plane hit a house and the left wing was torn off. The Captain thought the fuel may catch light and started evacuating passengers. An investigated concluded that slush on the runway prevented the plane gathering enough speed.

 

Though Mark died at just after 3pm one afternoon on a runway in Germany heís buried here in a pretty graveyard in Wombwell Barnsley. He was born in this town only twenty-four years earlier. He was the third of seven children and an adroit footballer at school. He was so effective he never had to find a job to get by until the dream started: Manchester United took him on as an apprentice when he left school. He made two appearances aged just 17 and was one of the regular players by the time of Manchester United's glory years of 1955 to 1956. He played 120 first team games for The Red Devils. He would probably have played for England had he not died in the Munich.

 

What a waste of a life, snuffed out at twenty four. He left behind a pregnant wife and a son. His daughter was born four months after his death. Though his wife June later remarried she was buried here with her first husband.

 

It was an attractive grave, framed by white marble and the size of the marble football seemed perfect. I assume itís kept pretty by his two children. On the way back to the car I passed a squirrel. I threw it some of my Mars Bar and it stood on a rock nibbling it (see photo.)