ONE of English football’s best known stories – about how amateur club Bishop Auckland came to the aid of giants Manchester United in their darkest hour – is being brought to life over the airwaves.

Thursday marked the 62nd anniversary of the Munich Air Disaster, a tragic aircraft crash which killed 23 people.

Onboard were Manchester’s Busby Babes and a number of fans and journalists, returning from a European Cup game in Yugoslavia, when the plane crashed in snow at Munich Airport.

Out of the United team, eight were killed, two would never play football again and five were hospitalised in Germany.

United needed 22 players for a first and second team but the crash left them short – Bishop Auckland came to their aid by loaning them Derek Lewin, Bob Hardisty and Warren Bradley to help fulfil their fixtures.

In commemoration of the event, radio play Bishop United, written by Roy Cavanagh and Steve Newcomb about two years ago, was broadcast live on local station Bishop FM and over the internet on a podcast.

It was performed in front of an intimate audience at Heritage Park, in Bishop Auckland.

Mr Cavanagh, ambassador and writer, said: “I was alive when the Munich Air Disaster happened, I was only 11, and I can remember that particular day.

“The one thing Manchester United didn’t have the day after the Munich Air Disaster was footballers.

“The three footballers that Bishop Auckland gave to them made all the difference – the impact can’t be emphasised enough, and I’m just delighted that I met Steve.”

Mr Newcomb, former chairman of Bishop Auckland Football Club, said: “It’s wonderful for the club to be recognised for the part that they played in saving Manchester Utd.

“It’s important to remember that the three players who went from Bishop Auckland weren’t stepping outside of the realms of where they were used to playing, because they were superstars themselves.”

George Courtney, former World Cup referee, narrated the play.

He said: “The radio play shows the link between Bishop Auckland Football Club and Manchester United, when sadly so many lives were lost, and the heart of the club was ripped out.”

John Rowell, in admin, said: “In years to come the future Bishop Football Club supporters will be able to recall what actually happened in those years when it was a major time for Bishop Football Club, which was the best amateur club in the country if not the world.”

Mr Cavanagh added: “Without John this wouldn’t have happened - he has been marvellous.”

Ian Chandler, current manager, said: “It’s a big eye-opener hearing what happened, and I think the connection has been lost quite a bit, so this play might just rejuvenate and bring it back to the people’s front door.”

Mr Newcomb said: “The cast are grateful to the sponsors Kenley Homes, Steve Aitken and Bishop Auckland Town Council for their very generous grant which helped to purchase our equipment.

“We can now take the play to venues around the country.”

Free tickets are still available for a performance on February 13 at the Heritage Park ground, in Bishop Auckland, which includes a buffet.