Sample of Notes for Victory Project:
Subject: 1958 Manchester United and the Munich Air Crash
Define Victory: The team rallied after a fatal air crash to make their way to FA Cup Final
Traits: courage, perseverance
Facts: Who, What, When:
1958 team returning from Yugoslavia after earning semifinal spot in European Cup for 2nd straight year, stopped in Munich to re-fuel before returning to Manchester
Club was reigning English champion 1956 and 1957 seasons; Club considered one of Europe’s best, serious contenders for championship of England and Europe
Team had multiple English national team players
Team plane crashed in Munich on takeoff, killing 8 players, severely injuring manager and 2 other players, only 2 players escaped injury.
Crash also killed 3 team staff members, as well as 8 journalists and co-pilot. 23 people killed in all on Feb. 6, 1958
Most of players killed were starters: youngest age 21, oldest age 28
Team under interim manager finished schedule, including run to FA Cup Final
1st game back was 13 days later – team roster in program was blank, due to mgr. being unable to decide on who was able to play before program printed
United won 3-0 over Sheffield Wed in FA Cup 5th Rd., beat West Brom in 6th rd, Fulham in semis, lost Final to Bolton 2-0 with side made up of crash survivors, inexpensive acquisitions, and young reserves
Club won many fans and admirers for determination and ability to overcome adversity.

How and Why I Think Manchester United Achieved Victory:
The team, with a rag-tag roster, was able to overcome tragic loss of starters and absence of manager and still make their way to FA Cup Final Club never gave up – survivors played on to honor lost teammates – “club must go on” “even if it means being heavily defeated, we will carry on” Could compare to Seahawks losing Wilson, Lynch, Thomas, Sherman, Carroll, and more, and still making it to Super Bowl

Writing Sample for Victory
1958 Manchester United Football Club: Victory Over Adversity

Many people define the word “victory” only in terms of whether an athlete or a team wins or loses. Only if one wins are they called victorious. This narrow definition neglects people who persevere in the face of adversity and tragedy. An example of perseverance and determination over extraordinary circumstances is the 1958 Manchester United Football Club of England.

On February 6, 1958, Manchester United was making their way home from a European Cup quarterfinal matchup in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia. The club’s plane stopped in Munich, West Germany, to re-fuel. The team, reigning champions of English soccer, was considered a strong contender for the European Cup and the English First Division titles. That situation changed when the team plane crashed on take-off, killing 23 passengers, including eight players, most of whom were starters for the club and candidates for the English national side. Geoff Bent, Roger Byrne, Eddie Colman, Duncan Edwards, Mark Jones, David Pegg, Tommy Taylor, and Billy Whelan lost their lives as a result of the fatal crash. Colman was the youngest victim at age 21; Club captain Byrne was the oldest at age 28. Most of their teammates were injured, some severely, as only two players escaped injury. Matt Busby, the club manager, suffered severe injuries, and three of his staff members lost their lives.

Never before had such a disaster happened to an English soccer club. After the shock of the crash had passed, many observers offered their sympathy to Manchester United and the team that was seemingly bound for greatness, a team virtually destroyed before it could show the soccer world what it could do. Most fans and writers expected Manchester United to pull out of all competition due to the tremendous loss the club suffered. The club declared it “must go on,” to honor its fallen players and also out of a sense to duty to soccer fans (Ferris, 2001). The team patched together a roster of young reserves, a few hasty acquisitions, and the survivors of the crash once they were able to play, to continue competing. The club’s lineup sheet for its first game after the crash showed eleven blank spaces, as the roster was still being assembled before the programs were printed. While the team sunk in the league standings and lost its semifinal tie in the European Cup, Manchester United rallied during FA Cup play and won matchups in the Fifth Round, Sixth Round and the Semifinals on its way to the Cup Final with its lineup of players playing on sheer adrenaline and will while seeking to overcome the tragedy of the Munich crash. The team lost 2-0 to Bolton in the final with most neutral supporters pulling heavily for United to win.

If you adhere to the strict definition of ‘victory,’ then it is difficult to call the 1958 Manchester United side ‘winners’, since they won no trophies. But if you follow that definition, you forget the fact that the players overcame a massive tragedy and still nearly won a major championship with a rag-tag roster. If you need a comparison to consider the feat that Manchester United achieved in 1958, think of it this way: take Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch, Richard Sherman, Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril, Earl Thomas, Bobby Wagner and Pete Carroll away from the 2013 Seattle Seahawks, watch those stars be replaced by reserves and unknowns, and yet still make it to the Super Bowl. In effect, that is what United achieved. Such a feat deserves to be called ‘victorious.’ In my view, the 1958 Manchester United team were a team who achieved ‘victory’ by persevering after tragedy struck the club.

Manchester United Official Website;, accessed April 14, 2016
Ferris, Ken; Manchester United in Europe: Tragedy, Destiny, History, Edinburgh, Scotland: Mainstream Publishing, 2001.
McColl, Graham; United We Stand. Manchester, England: Carlton Books, 2002
Matthews, Tony and Russell, John; The Complete Encyclopaedia of Manchester United Football Club. Cradley Heath, England: Britespot Publishing Solutions Limited, 2002

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