Matt BUSBY (1909-1994)

Matt Busby
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THIS IS YOUR LIFE - Matt Busby, Scottish football player and manager, was surprised by Eamonn Andrews at the BBC’s Dickenson Road Studios in Manchester.

A former player with Manchester City and Liverpool, Matt became manager of Manchester United in 1945.

Matt became the first subject to be honoured by This Is Your Life a second time in May 1971.

Photographs of Matt Busby This Is Your Life

Matt Busby article

Unknown source 7 January 1958


Matt Busby, who knows all the tricks of football, was the victim of a well-concealed hoax last night…and millions of televiewers loved every minute of it.

Busby was persuaded to go to the BBC television studios in Manchester believing he was to take part in a tele-recording of a sports panel.

When the “mock panel” was well on the way up jumped a questioner to ask Busby about his days in junior football…and at that point Eamonn Andrews called out from behind a curtain: “That’s my question.”

And before he knew what was happening, Busby found himself in the centre spot of the TV feature This Is Your Life.

The show was a climax to a hilarious week-end for the Busby family as they pulled out every ruse to keep from Matt that he was to be featured in the programme.

His 73-year-old mother came down from Scotland on Saturday and stayed with her grand-daughter Sheena. The Busby family had to keep watch in case Matt called unexpectedly on his daughter, for the secret would be out, of course, if he saw his mother.

In fact on Sunday he did decide to call at his daughter’s house…but Mrs Busby persuaded him not to bother.

From America came the President of the American F.A., Mr James Maguire, who flew over to say how much Soccer in the U.S. owes to Busby.

From Pittsburgh came Matt’s aunt, Mrs Delia O’Donnell, who bought him his football boots when he was made captain of his school team.

They were all there – Len Langford, his old buddy at Manchester City, little Jimmy McMullan, Frank Swift, Joe Mercer, Cliff Britton, Don Gibson, his son-in-law, Johnny Aston, Billy Liddell, Arthur Rowe, Bert Sproston, Willie Watson, George Smith.

A host of sports personalities helped to tell the Busby story of the little boy from Orbiston in Scotland who has risen to be the top manager in Britain and a real world figure in football.

Only yesterday morning were Walter Crickmer, secretary of Manchester United, and some of the players, like Roger Byrne and Dennis Viollet, let into the secret.

While they trained at Old Trafford they kept on their guard in case one slip of the tongue would give the game away to the Boss.

After a busy day at Old Trafford yesterday, Busby had tea at home. Then he kissed his wife Jean good night and set off to join Alan Clarke, Harry Sunderland, Arthur Wrigley and Claude Harrison on the sports panel.

None of them knew the secret behind the show. But as soon as Matt had left home a car waiting round the corner pulled up to take Mrs Busby and the rest of the family to the studios.

Busby, the man on the inside of so many Soccer secrets didn’t know a thing about this secret until the cameras focused on him alone and Eamonn Andrews boomed out?: THIS IS YOUR LIFE.

And then we were all in on the life of a man who used to share his football boots with Alex James and ended up, like James, as one of the best loved figures in football.


THIS IS YOUR LIFE, MATT BUSBY…and here, grouped around the Manchester United manager after the BBC TV feature from Manchester last night are some of the men and women who have played a big part in Busby’s life. They are Johnny Aston, former United full-back, Walter Crickmer, United’s secretary, Frank Swift, former Manchester City goalkeeper, Busby’s aunt from America, Mrs Delia O’Donnell, his wife Jean, Len Langford, former Manchester City goalkeeper, his mother, James Maguire, president of the American F.A., daughter Sheena, son Sandy, son-in-law Don Gibson, Sheffield Wednesday player, Jimmy McMullan and Bert Sproston, two former Manchester City players.

programme details...

  • Edition No: 49
  • Subject No: 49
  • Broadcast live: Mon 6 Jan 1958
  • Broadcast time: 8.158.45pm
  • Venue: BBC Manchester
  • Series: 3
  • Edition: 15

on the guest list...

  • Alan Clark
  • Claude Harrison
  • Arthur Wrigley
  • Harry Sunderland
  • Mrs Matthie - mother
  • Frank Rogers
  • James McGuire
  • Sam Smith
  • James McMullan
  • Jean Busby - wife
  • Len Langford
  • Sheena Gibson - daughter
  • Don Gibson - son-in-law
  • Sandy Busby - son
  • Frank Swift
  • Billy Liddell
  • Edward Bennett
  • David McKecknie
  • Arthur Rowe
  • Bert Sproston
  • Willie Watson
  • Cliff Britton
  • George Smith
  • Joe Mercer
  • Johnny Aston
  • Delia O’Donnell - aunt
  • Walter Crickmer
  • Mr Gilmore
  • Mr Dalton
  • Roger Byrne
  • Dennis Viollet

production team...

  • Researchers: Ray Marler, George Bruce
  • Writer: Ken Smith
  • Producer: T Leslie Jackson
names listed in bold indicate subjects of This Is Your Life
with thanks to Mark Wylie, Curator at Manchester United, for his contribution to this page
Series 3 subjects: Albert Whelan > Colin Hodgkinson > Vera Lynn > Arthur Christiansen > John Logie Baird > Richard Carr-Gomm > Jack Train > Edith Muriel Powell > Anne Brusselmans > Norman Wisdom > Victor Silvester > Jack Petersen > Lucy Jane Dobson > David Bell > Matt Busby > Minnie Barnard > Gordon Steele > Louie Ramsay > Tubby Clayton > Daniel Angel > Anna Neagle > 'Dapper' Channon > Frederick Stone > Paul Field > Noel Purcell > Barbara Cartland > Harry Secombe > Archie Rowe > Humphrey Lyttelton > Francis Cammaerts > A E Matthews