Belfast Telegraph

Manchester United superfan aims to put Busby Babe film on big screen in Cookstown

By Mark Edwards

A Manchester United supporter is aiming to bring a new film documenting the life of Busby Babe Duncan Edwards to Northern Ireland.

The Boy Who Had it All is the brainchild of filmmaker Marcus Distant and documents the rise of the schoolboy prodigy and his tragic death at the age of 21 in the 1958 Munich air disaster.

It premiered at Old Trafford on what would have been the star's 81st birthday and has attracted global interest.

A Co Tyrone Manchester United fan is now aiming to organise a private screening for supporters here.

The Cookstown Manchester United Supporters' Club have contacted Mr Distant in a bid to have a private viewing of the film to mark their 35th anniversary, as well as marking the 60th anniversary of the disaster on February 6.

Ray Finn, a Red Devils fan, got in touch with the filmmaker on social media.

He received a reply from Mr Distant, who confirmed he was hoping to arrange a screening some time in the new year.

Mr Finn is considering inviting Harry Gregg, the Northern Ireland goalkeeper who survived the disaster, to come along and watch the film.

"We have asked him (Mr Distant) and we plan to do it in the local cinema in Cookstown," he told the Belfast Telegraph.

"I have been in touch with the cinema and they are happy to do it.

"We are hoping to get a couple of hundred people.

"It is our 35th anniversary as a club and we have been looking for things to do in the new year and I came up with the idea of screening the film.

"I'm trying to get it screened before February 6 as that is the 60th anniversary.

"We hope to try and collect some money for charity at the screening.

"Fans in Manchester have been collecting money for local charities in Munich to mark the anniversary and it would be nice if we could do something similar here."

The plane crash claimed the lives of 23 people when the Manchester United team, affectionately known as the Busby Babes, was travelling home from a European Cup match in Belgrade. Eight Manchester United players died.

The young team was named after manager Sir Matt Busby, who was seriously injured in the crash but recovered to win the European Cup with George Best leading the line 10 years later at Wembley.

Mr Finn, a driving instructor originally from Blackburn, has been a Manchester United fan since he was four and intends to travel to Munich to mark the anniversary.

He said: "I have followed United all over the world but since I moved here it is just the big games I get to.

"I heard about the film through the Facebook page and asked Mr Distant if he would come over here.

"A lot of people in Cookstown, especially the older ones, say they are up for it and think it is a good idea.

"It will be good to mark our anniversary and the Munich air disaster.

"We are hoping to invite other supporters' clubs to come along if we can arrange it."

Mr Distant said: "There is a plan to hold a private screening in Northern Ireland after I was contacted by fans from over there who want to have a private showing.

"I also want to get to as many film festivals as possible - including Cannes, which is the big one, Manchester, Raindance in London and also LA if I can."

He added: "I didn't expect it the film to get as big as it has done.

"I've had people contacting me from Greece, Turkey, Malaysia, Australia and Hong Kong, asking if it is going to appear at cinemas in their country.

"It's amazing. I always knew Duncan Edwards was a massive role model in the Black Country (a region of the West Midlands in England), but didn't know he was such a big name abroad.

"It's definitely not just the Black Country, he impacted a lot of people across the world."

Edwards, from Dudley, was heralded as one of the brightest talents in English football before his death.

He featured for Manchester United 175 times and scored 21 goals.

Signing for the club as a teenager, he became the youngest player to play in the first division.

Belfast Telegraph

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