Belfast Telegraph

Campaign grows for Harry Gregg, hero of Munich air disaster, to be knighted

By Allan Preston

Football fans are calling for the award of a knighthood to Munich air disaster hero Harry Gregg.

A petition backing the honour for the modest 85-year-old Coleraine man has gathered 800 signatures so far.

It cites his goalkeeping talents, his exploits in saving others from the crash 60 years ago, and his generosity in promoting grassroots football.

Fan Jason Peters, who started the campaign, said he was "an amazing man".

Gregg signed for Manchester United in 1957 from Doncaster Rovers for £23,000.

Along with Sir Bobby Charlton, he is the only remaining survivor of the famous Busby Babes.

On the night of the Munich tragedy in February 1958, Gregg managed to pull team-mates and other survivors out of the wreckage.

Twenty-three people on board died, including eight members of the United team.

While praised as a hero for his actions, he has always played down his role.

Mr Peters said: "Amazingly, Harry was back in action within two weeks in a FA cup tie for Manchester United as the club defeated Sheffield Wednesday 3-0.

"Then, four months later, this amazing man was voted best goalkeeper in the World Cup after starring for Northern Ireland against Sweden."

Mr Peters said he also admired Gregg's foundation to promote youth football.

"This promotes good citizenship and also enables young people to grow to full maturity as individuals and members of society," he said.

Others signatories were quick to make their case.

"I can't imagine anyone more deserving of a knighthood," said Bill White.

"The reluctant hero who saved the lives not just of his friends and team-mates, but risked his own life, never asking for any recognition."

Earlier this month Gregg travelled to Old Trafford for the 60th anniversary memorial of the Munich crash. He said it was likely to be his last trip to his old home ground.

In an interview with the BBC, he again played down his actions on the runway that night.

"Professor Maurer (head of Munich Hospital) and his staff saved a lot of lives," he said. "I know what I did. I know who I saw. I remember the baby. I remember that poor fella. Jesus Christ - what a way to die."

He added: "I know what happened. I know when I found Bob, I know when I found all the rest of them. I know what I did and I would say to you now I am not playing a nice fellow. God forbid if it happened again I might be the first one to run away. You and I don't know how we're going to react from one day to another.

"The media would like to talk about what happened on a runway.

"I don't blame people for that, but if all I was ever part of or all I ever achieved was to do with what happened in Germany, in Munich, if that was what my life was all about, it didn't come to very much."

To sign the petition visit: www.change.org/p/prince-william-give-harry-gregg-a-knighthood

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