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Sir Matt Busby: The Definitive Biography

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The Man Who Made A Football Club Sir Matt Busby, who took Manchester United to unprecedented glory before seeing the club through profound tragedy, created the global entity that spreads from Old Trafford today. A player with Manchester City and Liverpool before the Second World War, Busby remained at the forefront of football through four decades and made an extraordinary c The Man Who Made A Football Club Sir Matt Busby, who took Manchester United to unprecedented glory before seeing the club through profound tragedy, created the global entity that spreads from Old Trafford today. A player with Manchester City and Liverpool before the Second World War, Busby remained at the forefront of football through four decades and made an extraordinary contribution to the game in terms of both style and substance. In this definitive biography, Patrick Barclay looks back at Busby’s phenomenal life and career, including the rise of the Busby Babes in the 1950s, the Munich disaster that claimed 23 lives and the Wembley victory ten years on that made United the first English team to win the European Cup. Denis Law, Pat Crerand and such other members of that great side as Alex Stepney, David Sadler and John Aston are among the host of voices testifying to the qualities that set Sir Matt apart. This is the story of one of the greatest figures in football history, and of the making of a legacy that will last for ever.


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The Man Who Made A Football Club Sir Matt Busby, who took Manchester United to unprecedented glory before seeing the club through profound tragedy, created the global entity that spreads from Old Trafford today. A player with Manchester City and Liverpool before the Second World War, Busby remained at the forefront of football through four decades and made an extraordinary c The Man Who Made A Football Club Sir Matt Busby, who took Manchester United to unprecedented glory before seeing the club through profound tragedy, created the global entity that spreads from Old Trafford today. A player with Manchester City and Liverpool before the Second World War, Busby remained at the forefront of football through four decades and made an extraordinary contribution to the game in terms of both style and substance. In this definitive biography, Patrick Barclay looks back at Busby’s phenomenal life and career, including the rise of the Busby Babes in the 1950s, the Munich disaster that claimed 23 lives and the Wembley victory ten years on that made United the first English team to win the European Cup. Denis Law, Pat Crerand and such other members of that great side as Alex Stepney, David Sadler and John Aston are among the host of voices testifying to the qualities that set Sir Matt apart. This is the story of one of the greatest figures in football history, and of the making of a legacy that will last for ever.

30 review for Sir Matt Busby: The Definitive Biography

  1. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

    detailed and very interesting book about the life of sir matt busby from humble origins in Scotland to being the manager of Manchester united and the events of the munich and 1968 European cup win

  2. 4 out of 5

    Aidan

    Being a fan of Manchester United I am quite embarrassed to say that it has taken me up to now to read a biography of one of the great men in the club's history. I knew rough details about Busby before I read this book but now I am in absolute awe of the work he did. His whole ethos of a focus on young players and playing attractive football really resounded with me. Great managers normally build one great team. He built 3. As if that wasn't all the strength of character required to continue and Being a fan of Manchester United I am quite embarrassed to say that it has taken me up to now to read a biography of one of the great men in the club's history. I knew rough details about Busby before I read this book but now I am in absolute awe of the work he did. His whole ethos of a focus on young players and playing attractive football really resounded with me. Great managers normally build one great team. He built 3. As if that wasn't all the strength of character required to continue and rebuild the squad after the Munich air disaster is incredible. That brings me to one of the things the author does excellently. Barclay provides a heartfelt account of the disaster in which he remembers all of its victims. Despite knowing that it was coming throughout the book I still felt a sense of dread as the book approached this event. One thing that I really took away from this book was Busbys complete lack of tribalism. He played for Liverpool and Manchester city before managing United which nowadays would be seen as a heinous crime. Some of his good friends in football also managed direct rivals for trophies yet despite this there was no animosity. Something I think we could all learn from. Best quote: "Manchester is my heaven" p156 (Matt Busby)

  3. 5 out of 5

    Henri

    I seldom read sports/football books as they rarely offer great value - mostly these are badly written collated articles by sports columnists offering little new research. This is a rare exception. Reads almost like a historical inquiry into a man that changed so much and touched every aspect of British football. On the pages of this biography years don't just zoom by with time either - everything happening around the subject forms a big part of how the story is told. I guess the only reason this I seldom read sports/football books as they rarely offer great value - mostly these are badly written collated articles by sports columnists offering little new research. This is a rare exception. Reads almost like a historical inquiry into a man that changed so much and touched every aspect of British football. On the pages of this biography years don't just zoom by with time either - everything happening around the subject forms a big part of how the story is told. I guess the only reason this isn't a 5 star review is because I believe there will be some dry chapters here for some, especially those not familiar with some aspects of football of the time, or people not interested in the time before success for Sir Matt Busby. Superb nonetheless.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Avishek Chatterjee

    “Just go out and play.” 29 May 1968. The Portuguese and Benfica legend Eusebio races past his long-time nemesis Nobby Stiles in the dying minutes of normal time with the scores level - and shoots straight at Alex Stepney with his weaker foot. Even as Eusebio attempts to congratulate Stepney for the save, the goalkeeper rebuffs it in trying to send the ball out quickly. Reflection only comes at full time. And that is after Manchester United score thrice in extra time to win 4-1, becoming the first “Just go out and play.” 29 May 1968. The Portuguese and Benfica legend Eusebio races past his long-time nemesis Nobby Stiles in the dying minutes of normal time with the scores level - and shoots straight at Alex Stepney with his weaker foot. Even as Eusebio attempts to congratulate Stepney for the save, the goalkeeper rebuffs it in trying to send the ball out quickly. Reflection only comes at full time. And that is after Manchester United score thrice in extra time to win 4-1, becoming the first ever English team to win the European cup. The manager Matt Busby, soon to be Sir, while intoxicated sings ‘What a Wonderful World’ in the post-match party. 6 Feb 1958. Matt Busby is dragged from the wreckage of Lord Burghley as a flight from Belgrade to Manchester ends with 20 dead in the snow. In the next few days, 3 more would succumb to their injuries including one of the leading Busby Babes and future English hero Duncan Edwards, aged 21. They were going back from having made it to the semi finals of the European Cup, a new competition started 2 years back and one United and Busby wanted to obtain despite protests from the domestic league officials. In the Rechts der Isar Hospital in Haidhuasen, Busby hoped he would join Edwards. He had signed the death warrants through his ambitions for Europe, he thought. Sir Matt Busby oversaw Manchester United for 25 years ensuring multiple teams were formed and reformed under him as he won 13 trophies. And then his zealousness to ensure they stayed that way almost destroyed the structure of the club through in the years post as he clashed with the Edwards ownership in their business pursuits. As they say, You Either Die A Hero, Or You Live Long Enough To See Yourself Become The Villain. It’s an amazing archival journey you get immersed in - especially seeing how current legends including the triumvirate of George Best, Dennis Law and Bobby Charlton emerged through differing journey culminating in Best and Charlton delivering the European cup even as an injured Law watched on. Not forgetting the dogged Stiles of infamy and necessity, the Dennis Violet who is one of the club’s most lethal strikers of all time and countless more who the son of an Irish immigrant family in Lankashire Scotland brought into the club through shrewd tactics and insight. Most interesting is his love of Rangers who didn’t take him and Manchester City who gave him his senior start before his journey to Liverpool whom he captained. Rarely has two of Manchester United’s legacy rivals given them such a gem to go to new heights. It’s hard to define what this book means to me, having spent two decades loving the club that he helped build. All the good, some of the bad – I am glad he lived long enough to see Alex Ferguson battle critics and legacies to finally win the League 26 years on since he last did. Take a lesson you will see Football taught by Matt Busby

  5. 5 out of 5

    Pete daPixie

    Over the years there has been no shortage of books that cover the Busby era at Old Trafford. Prior to Patrick Barclay's 2017 biography there have been Busby books in print as well as ex-players biogs that have mainly spanned the 1960's, as well as many publications that have covered the story of the Babes years and the tragedy of Munich. Sir Matt Busby is synonymous with the club. Before Busby it was the Luftwaffe that made the major impact at the ground. I came into this story at the age of 7, j Over the years there has been no shortage of books that cover the Busby era at Old Trafford. Prior to Patrick Barclay's 2017 biography there have been Busby books in print as well as ex-players biogs that have mainly spanned the 1960's, as well as many publications that have covered the story of the Babes years and the tragedy of Munich. Sir Matt Busby is synonymous with the club. Before Busby it was the Luftwaffe that made the major impact at the ground. I came into this story at the age of 7, just a couple of seasons after the aircrash, watching the team of Gregg, Brennan, Foulkes, Dawson, Charlton, Violett, Scanlon. During the next decade I lived in Old Trafford, just around the corner from Busby's house on Kings Road and many of the players, Law, Crerand, Dunne, Best and Brennan. From the mid sixties my paper round monies financed following the team home and away, and my paper round included delivery to Charlie Mitton's house. What I liked about this biography was the coverage of the Busby years that I was too young to witness. Altogether, the Boss was at the helm of Manchester United almost three decades that saw the club rise from the ashes of WWII, then the ashes of Munich, to become the world famous football club it is today. If Barclay has produced the definitive biography of Busby, it certainly says much, that it comes almost a quarter century after the great man's passing. It's probably a five star work, but I didn't want to appear too biased.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Anthony Sidonio

    What a great man. Deceptively tough, despite his outwardly kind and gentle exterior. Amazing how he rebuilt himself and the team following the very traffic Munich air disaster. The chapter describing the disaster is heartbreaking. The detail in the book has such depth and provides much information about Sir Matt's family and footballing background. An interesting read, even if you are not a football fan or a Manchester United follower. What a great man. Deceptively tough, despite his outwardly kind and gentle exterior. Amazing how he rebuilt himself and the team following the very traffic Munich air disaster. The chapter describing the disaster is heartbreaking. The detail in the book has such depth and provides much information about Sir Matt's family and footballing background. An interesting read, even if you are not a football fan or a Manchester United follower.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Ahmed Bayram

    A typically well-researched Barclay book. One drawback is too much details about results, scores and individual games. But it does see Sir Matt through the prism of his time and environment, and does well to shine a light on the great legend he was.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Keith Stopforth

    I can’t remember how many books I have read about Sir Matt Busby but this one has to be the best . Very well written and easy to read it made a life story I thought I already knew very interesting, it tells of Busby good and bad but mostly good obviously.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Philip Carman

    Excellent biog of Sir Matt Busby. A must for any football fan, especially Man Utd fans. Didn't dwell on Munich like some previous biogs have, although obviously an integral part of his and Utd's story. Excellent biog of Sir Matt Busby. A must for any football fan, especially Man Utd fans. Didn't dwell on Munich like some previous biogs have, although obviously an integral part of his and Utd's story.

  10. 4 out of 5

    SG-2381-4548 Philip Chua

    Insightful I am a Man U supporter for 43 years. I found this book to be a balanced write up on the flaws and the goodness of such a distinguished gentleman. But what ai found more enlightening was the support provided by his assistant Jimmy Murphy and his wife, Jean without whom he would not be as successful as he was.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Nigel

    Very well researched biography of Sir Matt. It was very interesting seeing the difference in lifestyle for top professional footballers even up to the 1970's compared with the present day. I would certainly recommend this book. Very well researched biography of Sir Matt. It was very interesting seeing the difference in lifestyle for top professional footballers even up to the 1970's compared with the present day. I would certainly recommend this book.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Brian Seare

    Matt As a Manu fan for many years this book was well written and gives people insight into club football management.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Mr Nicholas Skelton

    Sit Matt An excellent read providing a real insight into the full life of Sit Matt both pre & post Munich. Paddy Barclay did a cracking job

  14. 5 out of 5

    G

    A really great book. Up there with the best on this subject. A few things in there too that I didn’t know. Thoroughly enjoyed.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Charlie Pritchard

    Patrick Barclay offers unparalleled detail with this book, chartering the life and times of Sir Matt Busby. Barclay provides an irresistible insight into Manchester United’s rise, untimely and tragic fall, and rise again to European glory at last. The manner in which the Munich tragedy is depicted and analysed by Barclay is with a delicacy that any football fan would appreciate and admire. The book reads like a truly great story and is how a biography should be, with a sense of superiority and ex Patrick Barclay offers unparalleled detail with this book, chartering the life and times of Sir Matt Busby. Barclay provides an irresistible insight into Manchester United’s rise, untimely and tragic fall, and rise again to European glory at last. The manner in which the Munich tragedy is depicted and analysed by Barclay is with a delicacy that any football fan would appreciate and admire. The book reads like a truly great story and is how a biography should be, with a sense of superiority and expertise over other works on Busby. The anecdotes are original, endearing and funny. This is a complete history of Busby and deserves its high acclaim. Having been slightly disappointed with Barclay’s biography of Jose Mourinho, this work has surprised me and pleased me immensely. It was a joy to read and I would strongly recommend it to any devout Manchester United fan, like myself. This is Barclay at his best, one of the great football historians, and I will certainly be working through his back catalogue in the years to come.

  16. 5 out of 5

    David Petrie

    Sir Matt Busby I've been a United supporter all of my life. My dad took me to my first match at Old Trafford when I was just under 4 years old and I'm new 56. So, I suppose that this book filled in some bits that my dad hadn't told me, or I'd forgotten about. He was always raving about Duncan Edwards who was his favourite player,and infact he always used to recite the babes team when I as growing up, just as I used to recite the 68 European Cup winning team to my lads. All in all, it's a very goo Sir Matt Busby I've been a United supporter all of my life. My dad took me to my first match at Old Trafford when I was just under 4 years old and I'm new 56. So, I suppose that this book filled in some bits that my dad hadn't told me, or I'd forgotten about. He was always raving about Duncan Edwards who was his favourite player,and infact he always used to recite the babes team when I as growing up, just as I used to recite the 68 European Cup winning team to my lads. All in all, it's a very good read, and I'd recommend anyone who follows United to read it, especially young supporters who can learn an awful lot of United history.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ashutosh Dikshit

    Being a passionate Manchester United supporter, this book is very close to my heart, as it chronicles the life of one of World football’s giants. The tragedy and triumph of Sir Matt Busby, is a must read.

  18. 5 out of 5

    alex and george kindle

  19. 5 out of 5

    Andy Phillipson

  20. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Brookes

  21. 4 out of 5

    Wouter

  22. 4 out of 5

    sharon griffiths

  23. 5 out of 5

    Joe Trigg

  24. 4 out of 5

    michael john wilson

  25. 4 out of 5

    Bob Beattie

  26. 5 out of 5

    Chris Hynd

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan Carr

  28. 4 out of 5

    shirley Blakemore

  29. 4 out of 5

    Steven

  30. 4 out of 5

    Chris

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