The question of ‘What if?’ crops up regularly about the players who lost their lives at Munich. Often I am asked about comparisons with modern day players.
Two lads, both born in Salford, are an interesting comparison to me, particularly as I am a very passionate son of that city myself. Those two players?
EDDIE COLMAN and PAUL SCHOLES.
Eddie Colman was only 21 when he lost his life at Munich, playing just over 100 competitive matches for Manchester United, virtually unbroken from his debut at Bolton Wanderers in November 1955, which was also the first away fixture that I attended watching United. He came into the side as they were on their way to lifting the first of two consecutive League Championships. Eddie also played in the losing FA Cup Final of 1957 against Aston Villa and appeared in the club’s first ever European Cup tie away at Anderlecht.
I lived quite close to Eddie just off Trafford Road near to the Salford Docks, now of course the Salford Quays complex. He actually lived in Archie Street which became the actual street which was featured on the start of Coronation St from its start for many years.
At his untimely death, Eddie had not broken into the England side, although he had played at under 23 level. With the 1958 World Cup looming in Sweden there was every chance he would have been in that squad, it would have been pretty certain though that he would have become an England player very soon. Interestingly in those days, the England team was selected by a committee so certain members used to vote their favourite player as opposed to necessarily the best player.
Paul Scholes had a complete football career as opposed to Eddie’s, indeed retiring and coming back still a class player. Also born in Salford it was in Langley near Middleton that he lived when young.
The comparisons trophy wise reflect that longer career with 2 World Club titles, 2 Champions Leagues, 11 Premier titles, 3 FA Cups and 2 League Cup trophies adorning his cabinet along with 66 England appearances.
I first saw Paul in the Class of 92 era FA Youth Cup sides at Manchester United and instantly you could see this inventive, quick silver player who appeared wherever the ball was or was going to be!
Eddie Colman played all his Manchester United games at number four, the old right half position in the days of a W formation of Goalkeeper, two full backs, three half backs and five forwards. Paul Scholes, as his the wont of the modern game, was involved playing in the squad number’s of 24,22,18 and back to 22, generally one of two midfield players. He probably would have played in that number four shirt if he had been around in the 1950’s. Eddie had Duncan Edwards as his partner, whilst Paul Scholes had Roy Keane – what we would give for just one of those four players today?
Goal scoring was the main difference between the two. Eddie was totally a creator with a Marilyn Munroe wiggle, quickly dubbed ‘swivel hips’ which made not only opponents but the crowd sway! Eddie, though, only scored twice in his 100 or so matches. Paul Scholes, nicknamed ‘The Ginger Prince’ did everything (except perhaps tackle properly!) scoring over 100 goals as well as creating many, many more.
One thing both Eddie and Paul did the same was learning their wares at the club’s famous training ground, The Cliff, like both their birth place in the city of Salford.
Paul Scholes would have been a great Busby Babe. Eddie Colman was…