Thu, Nov 15, 2007 - Page 20 News List

`Busby Babe' John Doherty, 72, dies after cancer battle


Former "Busby Babe" John Doherty, who won the English league title with Manchester United in 1956, has died. He was 72.

Manchester United announced Doherty's death on its Web site yesterday, but did not give any further details. The Manchester Evening News said Doherty died after a long struggle with lung cancer.

Doherty only made 26 appearances and scored seven goals for United before having to retire at age 23 because of a chronic knee injury. But he was still an influential figure at the club as chairman of the Association of Former Manchester United Players.

Doherty was one of several members of the 1956-winning team who carried the Premier League trophy onto the field for last season's title presentation to United.

"John was a tireless leader of the Association of Former Players and a much loved and popular figure around Old Trafford," Manchester United chief executive David Gill said.

The 1956 title was the first for the so-called "Busby Babes," a group of young players who progressed from the youth team into the first team under manager Matt Busby. The average age of that team was 22.

The team also won the 1957 English title before eight "Busby Babes" died in an air crash in Munich, Germany, while returning from a European Cup match in February 1958.

Doherty had been transferred to Leicester City by that point but was soon forced to retire.

In his 2005 book The Insider's Guide to Manchester United, in which he profiled more than 300 Manchester United players, Doherty also reflected on his own career.

"It's better to be a has-been than a never-was and I enjoyed every minute of my career," he wrote. "I have to remember, too, that if it hadn't been for my dodgy [bad] knees I might well have been on the plane that crashed at Munich."

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