An exhibition to celebrate the life of Duncan Edwards – the boy from Dudley who died in the Munich Air Crash at the age of 21 – will open at the Dudley Archives and Local History Centre on Wednesday, January 10.
Organised by a dedicated group of volunteers, the exhibition and wider tribute programme is being supported by Duncan’s closest friend and fellow Manchester United legend Sir Bobby Charlton, who survived the crash which claimed 23 lives, eight of them members of the Busby Babes, in 1958.
Sir Bobby said: “Almost 60 years have passed since I last saw Duncan when I left hospital in Munich and I still think of him almost every day. I am very pleased to be part of this tribute in Dudley that will pay homage to the memory of my friend, team mate and the greatest footballer I have ever seen.”
Duncan and Sir Bobby shared the same digs in Manchester and during National Service they were based at Nesscliff Barracks near Shrewsbury, travelling home together on the train every Friday night for the match on Saturday before returning to the Army on Monday.
Sir Bobby added: “Duncan was the complete footballer – a colossus. Mighty in the air and unbreakable in the tackle, he would rampage tirelessly across the pitch, had a perfect first touch and was deadly in front of goal.”
Jim Cadman, who is organising the Duncan Edwards Tribute with a group of volunteer helpers, explained how the idea first came about.
“Back in 2001, we launched a book entitled Duncan Edwards – The Full Report on what would have been his 65th birthday. Duncan’s mother Sarah Ann Edwards gave us access to family photos and memorabilia as well as valuable information about his early life.
“Sarah and her family were VIP guests at a gala dinner and she said to me: ‘Can you make sure that folks in the Black Country never forget my Duncan?’
“The people of Dudley and the wider Black Country have a past to be proud of and Duncan’s achievements are an integral part of that, which is why we are determined to keep the promise we made to his mother 16 years ago,” Mr Cadman added.
Running until March 30, the exhibition is free to enter and will feature an extensive collection of photographs, press cuttings, memorabilia and football programmes that will tell Duncan’s story from his Black Country roots to championship titles and appearances for England at every age level. Many of the items will be donated to Dudley Archives when the exhibition ends.
The Duncan Edwards Tribute Dinner will be held at the Copthorne Hotel in Dudley on Wednesday, February 21 to mark the 60th anniversary of his death. For ticket information, visit www.duncanedwardstribute.com
Other features of the tribute programme are an educational heritage package created in conjunction with staff and pupils at Duncan’s old school Priory Primary, a wall of remembrance at St Francis Church in Dudley and a book entitled Duncan Edwards – Black Country Boy to Red Devil, which will be published later this year.
The Duncan Edwards Tribute has had extensive media coverage courtesy of ITV Central News, BBC Radio WM, Black Country Radio, Express and Star, Dudley Chronicle, Dudley News, Stourbridge News and the Manchester United FC matchday programme.