Morgans signed for United upon leaving school when he was 16-years-old and played on the right wing for the youth team. After making his debut when he was 18 he replaced Johnny Berry as United’s first choice right winger.
“I’m not being big-headed but there were about five clubs down at the house before I signed for United,” he recalled. “One club was in the living room, another was in the back room and someone else in the kitchen, all at the same time. When I first went to United, I had a job at one of the joinery companies in Stretford and I stayed there until I turned professional at 17. Tommy Taylor lived three doors away from me and the three of us, Tommy, Duncan Edwards and me, used to go down for training together every morning. The boss always said that there wasn’t a player living worth £30,000 so he only paid £29,999 for Tommy. He used to say to me: ‘Dai, you hit those crosses as hard as you like but just remember this, make sure they’re nine-foot high’. So every time I beat my full back, I’d look up to see where Tommy was and put it where he wanted, on his head.”
Less than two months after making his début he travelled to Belgrade to represent United in the European Cup but thankfully survived the disaster with minor injuries. He was the youngest player involved in the crash and was found unconscious amongst the debris by two journalists five hours after the official search was called off. His skull had been crushed, not fractured, and he remained in hospital for six weeks.
“About 8.30 or 8.45pm, two German reporters went back to the burning plane and they found me,” he later recalled. “I was still there. I was the last to come out. I was caught underneath a wheel. They got me to hospital and I didn’t wake up until Sunday morning. I had a cut head and a lot of bruising. I had lost 10 pints of blood. I remember waking up and there was Bobby Charlton, Albert Scanlon, Ray Wood and myself. We had breakfast and everybody was quiet. I thought the other boys must have been in another room. Then the professor of the hospital sat with me on Sunday afternoon and told me the players who had died and the players who were very sick upstairs. There was the boss, Matt, and there was Duncan [Edwards] and there was Johnny Berry, the right-winger whose position I took. They weren’t in a good way. It was unbelievable.”
His wife Stephanie, who was his fiancée at the time of the crash, has since revealed it was a long wait for people at home to find out what had happened to Kenny.
“For five hours after the crash, I didn’t know whether he was dead or alive,” she recalled. “There was a list of the dead and a list of the survivors and Ken wasn’t on either of them.”
Whilst Morgans didn’t remember much about the crash, he did remember the fact his £13 suit was ruined in the rescue.
“I don’t remember a thing about it but I was told they had to cut my Italian suit to get me out, my lovely Italian suit,” he said. “I bought it new for the occasion. It was my first European Cup match and I had to get the same suit as the rest of the lads, all made to measure. I remember I had three fittings to make sure it was exactly right. Thirteen quid it cost me.”
Although he made a full recovery following the crash and was back in the side before the end of the season, he never regained his form on the pitch, and left the club in 1961 to return to Wales.
“When I left hospital, the physician said I shouldn’t play football until next season,” he recalled. “But I was desperate to get playing again because I wanted to play for Duncan and Tommy and all the boys who never came back. They’d played in the Cup Final the year before and lost and I was prepared to play my heart out in the final against Bolton. It broke my heart when they dropped me for the final. Jimmy Murphy was in charge while Matt was recovering and he said he wasn’t going to pick me because I’d lost weight and he thought the occasion would be too much for me emotionally. The following Tuesday, he picked me for the European Cup semifinal against AC Milan and I was man of the match. He called me into his office and said he should have played me at Wembley. I stayed for two more years but I wasn’t really interested. I missed the boys so much. Because of what had happened to them, I just didn’t seem to care. I tried, but the players were not the same and that upset me. We used to have two dressing rooms, one for the first team, the other for the reserves. When I came back after the crash, all the reserves were in the first-team dressing room. Some of them were never good enough to be there. The Babes were the best team there’d ever been. Had they all lived, they would have been the best team in the world. People laugh at me when I say it, but the Babes were so good, they never made mistakes. You know, I never lost a game with the old team.”
He played for Swansea for three years before quitting football to run a pub when he was just 25-years-old, before being persuaded to play for Newport County in the old Fourth Division.
Kenny returned to Old Trafford for two notable events in recent years – for the 50th anniversary of the Munich tragedy in 2008, and more recently, an Association of Former Manchester United Players dinner at which he was the guest of honour.
Rest in peace.
Debut: 21/12/1957 vs Leicester City (H)
League: 17 appearances
FA Cup: 2 appearances
European Cup: 4 appearances
Total: 23 appearances, 0 goals
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