D1results-01-02-58February 1 ~ Manchester United's 5-4 win at Arsenal was their last league match before the Munich air disaster on February 6, when a plane carrying the squad back from a European Cup tie in Belgrade crashed on the runway. Among the 23 people who died were eight United players. Five took part in the match at Arsenal, including two of the goalscorers, striker Tommy Taylor and wing-half Duncan Edwards.

A squad made up of new signings and loan players alongside Munich survivors – notably forwards Bobby Charlton and Dennis Viollet, goalkeeper Harry Gregg and centre-half Bill Foulkes – completed their fixtures but United won only one more league match and finished ninth. They went on to reach the FA Cup final but lost 2-0 to Bolton.

Birmingham's 8-0 thrashing at Preston equalled a club record for their worst ever defeat. Blues goalkeeper Gil Merrick had also participated in England's record loss, 7-1 in Hungary four years earlier. Centre-forward Tommy Thompson and winger Sammy Taylor both scored hat-tricks for Preston with the other two goals coming from Tom Finney, the club's most capped player and now their president. The team also included two Manchester United managers of the 1970s, Frank O'Farrell and Tommy Docherty.

Preston trailed leaders Wolves by a few points until a decisive meeting at Molineux in the 40th game. The home team won 2-0 and took the title by five points. Managed by Stan Cullis, a keen proponent of direct attacking play, Wolves were to win the League again next season for their third title in six years. Striker Jimmy Murray scored two against Leicester and finished with 29 goals, seven behind the division's top scorer, Bobby Smith of Spurs.

The bottom five were split by only two points. Sheffield Wednesday went down after their penultimate fixture, a 2-0 defeat at Aston Villa. They were joined by Sunderland, who finished below Portsmouth on goal average despite winning 2-0 at Fratton Park on the final day. Newcastle finished 19th on the same number of points, 32, with Leicester a further point ahead. Wednesday recovered quickly – returning as Division Two champions the next season, they were to be League runners-up to Tottenham in 1960-61.

The 17-year-old Jimmy Greaves played for Chelsea at Burnley while Stanley Matthews, two weeks short of his 43rd birthday, was in the Blackpool side that drew at Villa – he would play for another six years. Jack Charlton played for Leeds at Bolton while his future boss Don Revie turned out for Sunderland alongside another manager-to-be, Billy Bingham, who was to take Northern Ireland to two World Cups in the 1980s.


Results & table from

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