Tom Jackson – Manchester United’s lifelong friend
- This week marks the 60th anniversy of the Munich air crash, which killed 23 people, including eight of the Busby Babes
- Tom Jackson was one of eight sports journalists who died in the disaster. He was 46
- Jackson covered the Reds for the Manchester Evening News since 1934
This week, the city will see many paying their respects on the 60th anniversary of the Munich air disaster.
On February 6th 1958, a plane carrying the Busby Babes, Old Trafford staff and sports journalists crashed in Munich following United’s European Cup quarter-final win in Belgrade. 23 people were killed.
While the disaster devastated a generation of English football, it also killed some of the finest sports journalists of the day. Out of nine reporters on board, only one survived. Tom Jackson of the Manchester Evening News was among those killed. He was 46.
Although he began his career as a crime reporter, Jackson began reporting on the Reds in 1934. Following six years as a sergeant in Army Intelligence during the Second World War, Jackson returned to cover United full time, just as the Busby era was taking shape.
Across his nearly 25 years at the M.E.N, Jackson wrote something about United almost every day. His passion for the club never abated and can be seen in everything from matchday reports to transfer speculation.
His last article was a match report on the cup-tie in Belgrave, published hours before his death. There is a tragic irony in this – the headline ran “United will never have a tougher fight than this!”.
His high regard in sports journalism was seen in the thousands of tributes Manchester Evening News received from journalists and football clubs alike.
On the day of his funeral, the cortege passed the offices of the Manchester Guardian and the Manchester Evening News. The M.E.N. reported that “more than 1,000 people standing eight-deep bowed their heads in silence”.
Among the tributes, the M.E.N. commissioned a brass plaque for Jackson, which hung near the desk where he wrote many of his United reports.
The day after the disaster, the Editor wrote a front-page tribute to Jackson.
It read: “Tom Jackson loved his family and he loved his newspaper. But his burning passion was for Manchester United. No journalist did more for a club than Tom Jackson. He was more than a reporter – he was Manchester United’s lifelong friend.”