Born locally, in Smithies, Thomas (Tommy) Taylor was in the prime of his life and career as a footballer for both Manchester United and England, when he became one of the eight United players killed in the 1958 Munich Air Disaster.
By that time at just 26 years old, Taylor had achieved an incredible amount. The son of a miner, who supposedly sat him down at 14 and told him there was no way he was following him down the pit, he signed for his local club Barnsley in 1949. He scored 26 goals in 44 games.
That brought the attention of a few of the first division clubs, with Manchester United eventually winning out in a race for his signature in March 1953. Reputedly not wanting him to have the added pressure of being the first £30,000 player, 21-year-old manager Sir Matt Busby took a pound note out of his wallet and paid the tea lady during the negotiations, so the fee was set at £29,999.
In all, he scored 112 goals in 166 matches for United, including one in an FA Cup Final defeat against Aston Villa in 1957. He did win two championships with United during his time at the club.
Seen as a natural replacement for legendary England forward Nat Lofthouse, Taylor made his England debut in May 1953 against Chile and went on to score a remarkable 16 goals in just 19 appearances for his country, including hat tricks against Denmark and the Republic of Ireland, and two in his final game against France in November 1957.
Attempting to take off after refueling in Munich following a European game in Belgrade, a plane carrying the team, club representatives, journalists, and fans crashed on February 6, 1958, killing 23 people, including Taylor and seven of his teammates.
Reportedly, his internment in Barnsley (Monk Bretton) Cemetery following his death attracted most of the town. His gravestone reads:
“In loving memory of Thomas (Tommy) Taylor, Ex Manchester United and England centre-forward – son of Charles and Violet Taylor – who was killed in the Munich Air Disaster, February 6th, 1958, Aged 26 years.”
The grave is often adorned with scarves from both of the clubs he played for and is located some two-thirds of the way down the cemetery.
Know Before You Go
There is plenty of parking on the surrounding streets.