On Monday June 9th 1952, Duncan said goodbye to his parents and boarded a train for Manchester, the first step on a journey into the unknown.
Stepping off the train at Manchester’s London Road Station, the Duncan was met by the familiar face of Bert Whalley, who took him past the edifice that was Old Trafford and on down Warwick Road towards 5 Birch Avenue, the home of Mrs Watson, who would become his landlady and surrogate mother during his time at Old Trafford.
Duncan made a good start to his career with Manchester United.
In the second round of the Youth Cup in 1952 he broke his duck against an unfortunate Nantwich, hitting five goals in United’s overwhelming 23-0 victory.
The score line in itself attracted the headlines, but even it was over shadowed by Duncan’s performance in the humiliation of the bewildered Cheshire side. “The greatest junior prospect I have ever seen. That is no exaggeration”, wrote one reporter who was at the match, while another, Edgar Turner, penned the following.
“He is big and almost as strong as a man and I cannot recall one pass, long or short, by Edwards that could not be described to conjure up a phrase from the past such as a daisy cutter.
“His delivery of the ball to his forwards, even from well back, was equal to the best I have seen anywhere, league games and internationals included, for a very long time.
“When I say his tackling was strong and his covering excellent it is still not the end of the story. He also scored five goals!”
Duncan’s rise through the ranks was remarkable as he played in an enormous amount of games during his first season – turning out for the Colts, the ‘A’ Team, the Youth Team and the Reserves.
Things got even better in April 1953 when he was called into the office of Manchester United Manager – Matt Busby – and told “Go and get your football boots son, you’re playing for the first team tomorrow.”
What made the selection of Duncan Edwards very different, was the fact that he was only 16 years old and still an amateur.
Duncan got changed quietly in the dressing room pulling the number six jersey over his already muscular frame before the team was called out for him to make his First Team against Cardiff City.
Duncan was later to comment: “Making my Football League debut was not terrifying for me as many people thought, after having played at Wembley three times before I was fifteen”.
For the collector of football memorabilia, it is disappointing that the name of Duncan Edwards does not appear in the ‘United Review’ covering this match due to print deadlines, but the 37,163 spectators were well aware who the debutante was without the need of a programme.