Date:Tuesday February 5 2008
Saving shots is a challenging act, and it's an often thankless task to stand in goal. Harry Gregg, however, was a master of this art - maybe because of his bravery.
The Northern Ireland goalkeeper was unharmed in the crash but his first priority was not his own safety after getting out of the wreckage. He went back to look for the others, the less fortunate passengers.
'I wouldn't say I was terrified but I looked across diagonally at Roger Byrne and Roger was afraid,' Gregg said.
'Someone had a nervous cough and a laugh and little John Berry said, `I don't know what you're laughing at we're all going to get killed here.''
Unfortunately, he was quite right. There were survivors of the crash but there might have been even less had it not been for Gregg.
'You don't know what the hell's going on,' he continued.
'I felt something go up my nose, felt something take the top of my head off from behind. Just terrible wrecking and tearing and all of a sudden, complete silence and darkness.
'And as the whole thing broke up, I thought I won't see my wife and my little girl again. I thought I was dead.'
He wasn't and his survival meant the chance to live for others, too. He saw a light through a hole which he then kicked open and jumped onto the ground. The captain Jim Thain warned him to get away because the plane was going to explode but he refused and jumped back to look for survivors.
'I heard a child crying and I remembered the baby who was behind me and to the right. I started shouting to the people who were running away, `Come back, there are people alive in here.' I was angry.
'I went and found the child inside and I was terrified at what I would find. I found the baby and I shouted, `Come back'. The radio operator came back and I gave him the child and I said, `There's other people alive in there.''
He found the baby's mother, too and both survived the accident. He was the one who found Albert Scanlon and Ray Wood - both survived. And though Bobby Charlton did not suffer severe injuries, he might have died in the plane, along with Sir Matt Busby whose condition was grave for several days. But Gregg found them, too.
'As I turned round what was left of the back of the aircraft which had basically broken in two, I found Dennis Viollet and Bobby Charlton half in and half out of the stub of the wing. Dennis had a terrible cut behind his right ear. I thought they were dead but I just grabbed the waistband of their trousers and pulled them through the snow.'
'I found the boss. He was moaning but he kept rubbing his chest and saying, 'my legs, my legs.'. I looked down and his foot was completely reversed the other way. So I just kept talking to him and I shoved some garbage or wreckage to the bottom of his spine to support his back and I said, `You're OK' and I left him.
'And I went another 15-20 yards and I found Jackie Blanchflower. He was crying, 'I've broke my back, I can't move.' And I kept talking to Blanchie and it was melting the snow with the heat of the fires. I looked down, Jackie hadn't seen it but he had his arm virtually severed at the elbow.
'I took my tie off and with half of my tie I tied Jackie's arm.'
Finally, help arrived: a man with a Volkswagen van who helped Gregg to carry Busby and Blancflower out of the plane. Charlton and Viollet were already on their feet, staring into the fire, according to Gregg.
He went on to play for United but nothing he did in goal could surpass what he did on that fateful day.
Date:Tuesday February 5 2008
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|Aston Villa||1||-||1||Man Utd|
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