Fabrice Muamba and the Munich Air Disaster – compare and contrast
FABRICE Muamba is ill. On twitter, Liam Stacey has been death with but what to make of Red Issue, the Manchester United fanzine that sees mourn porn in the media’s cynical treatment of Muamba. It tweets:
* Bolton reserve game off. Time for ‘professionals’ to return to work methinks. Good job they’re not on £22k p/a in Afghanistan.
* News just in: Queen abandons Jubilee Tour. “One doesn’t think it right at a time a man is fighting for his life.” Olympics now in doubt.
* More stats for all our fans out there: 0 – Bolton games postponed when 33 supporters died 2 – Lpool games postponed when 95 supporters died
James Pearce, the BBC commentators, did not call it Muamba Hospital, he used the small ‘h’. Red Issue adds:
* Leader of Bolton Council objecting to the “disproportionate amount of publicity given by the press to Manchester United” in May 1958: “I thought the public were getting tired of all the tremendous amount of publicity concerning Manchester United. I hoped to …”
* Compare & contrast: 2: Bolton games called off after player collapses 2: United games called off after 8 players die
Anorak is not overfly fond of morn porn, the mawkish wallowing in orchestrated public displays of grief that followed the deaths of Baby P and Princess Diana. The opportunistic Sun sees a cause in Muamba’s continued existence, itself presented as a sign of God’s love. It’s the Good Footballer story the tabloids can tuck into without fear of being accused of invading privacy.
But comparing what followed the 1958 Munich air disaster with Fabrice Muamba is hardly worth the effort. In 1958, post-traumatic stress disorder was not well researched. Time, culture and science move on. Would Duncan Edwards have lived today? Would Muamba have died then? They had a minute’s silence at Twikenham for the dead, the Five Nations Championship – England v Ireland – interrupted by sorrow and remembering.
Jack Charlton said of Bobby Charlton, his brother who survived the horror in Munich: “I saw a big change in our kid from that day on. He stopped smiling.”
Nobby Stiles said – he was 15 and on United’s books but not in the accident:
“I prayed and I wept, and I rocked back and forth in the pew. It could have been an hour or two, I don’t really know. There was no one else in the church. Then I went home. The lads were dead, or so I’d read, but people still had to work. I put the dinner in the oven, as my mum had told me to do that morning, in that other life.”
Simon Barnes sums up what happened:
‘The eight Manchester United players who died in Munich have created a thing of perfection. Instead of memories of real deeds, they left an imperishable legend of beauty and glory, a team who could never lose, the greatest team ever.”
We burnish the past with the soft gilded brush over lives lost. Muamba became a hero when he collapsed. We selfish bystanders don’t fully understand the pain. We can only feel and decide what it mean to us. We can feel for Muamba as we can feel for the dead and injured of Munich…