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p&mduncansmum.jpg (8369 bytes)
(left to right: Paul Windridge, Duncan Edwards' Mum, Mick Meade)

Four of us were invited along to meet with Helen Viollet prior to the Munich Testimonial game, I had paid a visit to the Viollets during a family holiday in the US this June. It had been an emotional visit as not only did I meet with a United great but the circumstances made it all the more poignant.

The afternoon of the Testimonial we met in the Copthorne Hotel on Salford Quays during the late afternoon. In a back room a group of Manchester
United legends were enjoying a meal and reminiscing about the Babes who we
were all there to honour.

Dennis Viollet unfortunately was too ill to attend and stayed behind in Jacksonville with his daughter Rachel.

Helen had decided to wrench herself away from her husband and make the trip on his behalf. Dennis is undertaking a course of oral chemotherapy to counteract a tumour on the brain. He was badly injured in the Munich crash and when Harry Gregg pulled him from the wreckage he had a bad gash to the head.

Dennis recovered from the crash to become United's record scorer. He was a graceful centre-forward who went on to play for Stoke City before taking up coaching posts in the US where he has been honoured with the freedom of the city of Jacksonville.

That afternoon in the Copthorne we met a number of ex United players who had been our heros. We also met with Mrs Edwards, Duncan's mum. Duncan Edwards was arguably the greatest player ever to pull on the Red shirt and at the time of his death in the hospital in Munich he had been the youngest ever England international.

Mrs Edwards is a lovely character - sprightly way beyond her years and it was a real thrill to have the opportunity to pose for a photograph with her
- she seemed to enjoy it too!

Copyright Paul Windridge 1998

p&mraywood.jpg (10626 bytes)
(left to right: Paul Windridge, Ray Wood, Karl Smith, Mick Meade)

This photograph was taken with Ray Wood the United goalkeeper badly injured in the FA Cup Final of 1956. The Villa forward Peter MacParland clattered into Wood and broke his cheekbone. The challenge remarkably went
unpunished despite the fact that Wood had hold of the ball at the time of the impact.

Jackie Blanchlower went in goal, United were down to ten men and despite a late fightback, lost the game 2-1. Despite his appalling injury Ray went back in goal late on to allow Blanchflower to resume at halfback. To me and
every other true Red, Ray Wood has always been special for that.

In my opinion MacParland deliberately injured Ray, it was the only way Aston Villa could have prevented United from taking the Double that year.

The other person I will most remember from that afternoon is Roger Byrne. I had a brief chat with him as we waited to leave. It was an uncanny experience talking to the son of the father he never met. Roger Byrne was the cultured captain of that great Manchester United team in the fifties
and his son is the image of him.

It was a great privilege to have been there and many thanks must go to Helen for arranging the meeting.

Copyright Paul Windridge 1998

(Webmaster Note: At the time these photos were taken, Karl Smith & Paul Windridge were the only supporters to have visited the Viollets since Dennis became ill.)

 

 

 


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