Sir Matt Busby (26th May 1909 to 20th January 1994)


I wish I was nuts about football so it'd be another source of pleasure but it’s not really in me. It seems to be one of the few things adult men get visibly demonstrative about. I’ve been grave-hunting in Southern Cemetery on the outskirts of Manchester a few times and the first “famous” grave I found was Matt Busby. Even a nerd like me knows who he was (and not many people in footballers get a knighthood.)


He started humbly being born in a two-room pitman’s cottage in Scotland (his dad was a coalminer.) The First World War permeated into the lad’s life - his dad was shot by a sniper in the Battle Of Arras and his three uncles were killed in France. He was raised along with his three sisters by his mum. Though Matt went working down in the mine pits he only ever wanted to be a footballer and this came true. I only knew him to be a manager though. He was at the helm of Manchester United between 1945 and 1969 and again for the second half of the 1970–71 season. I won’t go into his admirable record as a player and manager here (it’s all there on web - his managerial record is surpassed only by Sir Alex Ferguson. )


He’s lucky to have lived so long really. In 1958 he was on route home from a European tie with Man United when the plane crashed on the runway at Munich-Riem Airport. Twenty one people were killed instantly (Duncan Edwards would die two weeks later.) Matt was expected to die, too. He’d suffered multiple injuries and a priest administered the last rites twice. After nine weeks in hospital he was released and returned home to Manchester. He didn’t know how many people had died and it was his wife Jean who had to impart the news. He felt so guilty at surviving that he thought about giving up his job. Jean urged him to continue out of respect of those who had died.


After the crash Matt rebuilt the team and they won the 1963 FA Cup Final and were league champions in 1965 and 1967. After retirement he continued as a director of Man Utd for eleven years and then became president. Aged 71 he suffered a stroke but recovered. Sadly his lost his Jean to the fog of Alzheimer's disease and then death after 58 years of marriage. He died aged 84 in January 1994 while in The Alexandra Hospital in Cheadle in Manchester to have a blood clot removed from his leg.


When I first visited this grave in the Catholic section Matt and Jean’s son and daughter were still alive however both are now buried about thirty feet away. Seven female grandchildren live on.


His wealthy racecourse owner friend Willie Satinoff who died in the Munich air crash is buried in the neighbouring Jewish cemetery. The link is here :



They were married for 58 years…





Passing by in April 2019...



Their son and daughters are buried on the same row of grave about 30 feet away…