On 1 February 1958, Arsenal hosted reigning league champions Manchester United at Highbury. A massive crowd of 63,578 turned up to see the Busby Babes. They saw what has been described as “the greatest game ever seen” by those who were there. The thrilling game finished 5-4 in favour of the visitors. However, it would be the last time this talented young team were seen in England.

Duncan Edwards (the only time you'll see a non-Arsenal player in the preview)

Duncan Edwards (the only time you’ll see a non-Arsenal player in the preview)

Six days later, the football world was left in shock as the Manchester United team was decimated when the plane bringing them home from Yugoslavia failed to take off at Munich airport and crashed.

In this blog we have included a copy of the programme and match reports for that game at Highbury, along with the tributes and match action from following Arsenal programmes.

Although not particularly rare, the programme for the Arsenal v Manchester United game is very collectable. You can download a copy of the whole programme by clicking on the programme cover below.

Click on the cover to read the whole programme

Click on the cover to read the whole programme

Match reports from the Sunday Times on 2 February, and The Times and Daily Express are shown below. Note that the “43 years young” Stanley Matthews gets a birthday mention!

Sunday Times 2 February 1958

Sunday Times 2 February 1958

The Times 3 February 1958

The Times 3 February 1958

Daily Express 3 February 1958

Daily Express 3 February 1958

The following Saturday Arsenal’s first team were away but the following appeared in the programme for the reserves game against Southend.

1958-02-08 Southend United (H) FC 02

The next home game for the first team was against Bolton on 18 February. A two page tribute to the Manchester United team was included.

1958-02-18 Bolton Wanderers (H) FL 061958-02-18 Bolton Wanderers (H) FL 07

There was also the usual feature of match action photographs. Click on the picture to enlarge them.

1958-02-18 Bolton Wanderers (H) FL 04

Click to enlarge


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Or have a look at our other site: The Arsenal Collection  for more Arsenal memorabilia.

Copies of our books Royal Arsenal – Champions of the South and Arsenal: The Complete Record 1886-2018 are still available from the publishers.

One thought on “Arsenal 4 Manchester United 5 – “The Greatest Game Ever”

  1. Victor Thompson on 3 February 2016 at 12:32 pm said:

    Thank you so much Andy for posting this wonderful record of the Munich Air disaster and particularly for making the reports of the time available.

    It gives a very poignant synopsis of those times while at the same time revealing not only the stature of Matt Busby`s team but also an example why our club was called “The Arsenal”. Whilst we were far from our best at the time, the programme of the first match after the disaster was an example of how not only to express the sympathy of the club but also professional tribute to Manchester United. I am sure it was appreciated at the time.

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