The Busby Babes

Last Update: 17 April 1999

Sean was first reported to be linked to this film, in its first stages of development, in June 1996.

An article appeared in a northern UK local newspaper (possibly Sheffield) reporting Sean was tipped to play Barnsley's tragic football legend Tommy Taylor in a film about the 1958 Manchester United air disaster.

A crash at Munich airport killed 8 players, including Taylor. The side were called the Busby Babes because they were very young and were set to dominate European soccer.

Screenwriter and United fan Debbie Horsfield turned the tragedy into a script which Working Title (Four Weddings and a Funeral) bought. A "veil of secrecy" was thrown over the project and the company was dismissive of reports that Sean Connery had been chosen to play the part of Busby.

But an "insider" said it would be a real goal to sign up Blades fan Sean. "Sean would be an obvious choice to play one of the Barnsley footballers who died. He's got the looks, the voice and he knows his football. He'd guarantee putting bums on seats."

Sean had finished When Saturday Comes, and was, at the time, filming Anna Karenina in Russia when the rumour about his association with the film surfaced.

An update: The Times (April 17, 1999) reports that the project, still provisionally entitled Busby Babes, is to be filmed later this year. Working Title, the production company, confirms that the project is still "in development" but that a "green light" for filming is expected.

The script is still being written by Debbie Horsfield, a keen Manchester United fan who is best known for her television dramas Born to Run and The Riff-Raff Element. Her agent reports the script is still being worked on.

Actors rumoured to have been approached this time around include Liam Neeson to play Sir Matt Busby and the Full Monty star Robert Carlyle to play Jimmy Murphy, his assistant. Sean's name has not been mentioned in connection with this latest development.

The accident, in which eight journalists and three of the club's staff died, as well as the eight players, happened as the team embarked on the last leg of their journey home from Belgrade, where they had qualified for the European Cup semi-finals. The 47-seat plane had been chartered by United because they were under pressure from the Football Association to get back in time for a league match against Wolverhampton Wanderers. It had to land at Munich airport on a refuelling stop. The aircraft had aborted two take-off attempts on the snowbound runway because of engine problems.

(Thanks to Jane Lucas for help with the details.)

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