This Big Friday Find comes from one of our new volunteers, John Yiasoumis. Look out for more of his contributions in the weeks to come.

Shortly following his triumph with Manchester United in the 1967 Football League Championship and after the way he rebuilt his Manchester United side following the Munich Air Disaster, Matt Busby CBE, as he was known then, received the award of Honorary Freedom of the City of Manchester. Although coming at the start of the season that would end up with arguably his greatest victory, in the European Cup Final, the award of Freedom of the City was a fitting gesture to a man who represented Manchester both as manager of Manchester United and as a player for Manchester City, appearing over 200 times for them.

Matt Busby with European Cup, 1968

“During his long career as a player of distinction and as a manager of genius his contribution to the game has made the City of Manchester as famous in the world of football as it is in the world of commerce.”

The certificate presented to mark this award sums up not only his impact on the city of Manchester, but also his character as a manager, which made him so successful.

“He has shown courage in the face of adversity, loyalty to his club and players, imaginative foresight in the encouragement of youthful promise and endeavour on the football field, an active and inspiring interest in the work of youth organisations of all kinds, unfailing charm of manner and a true and abiding modesty.”

Matt Busby's freedom of the City of Manchester, 6 September 1967

The award of Freedom of the City is an intriguing one, its origins dating back as far as medieval times. Back then Freemen of Cities throughout Britain would have privileges when it came to trading, such as exemptions on tolls which would normally need to be paid. The award developed over the years, entitling the holder to vote in elections, and was given mainly to people of some importance to society. However, in more recent times the award has become purely an honorary title given to people who have been deemed to serve the city with distinction, with no actual privileges coming with it.

John Yiasoumis