A RARE post-war football programme caused “jaws to drop” when it was brought to an antiques valuation.

The unique official programme is for an FA Cup fourth round tie in January 1957 when Wrexham FC played Manchester United at the Racecourse Ground - and is signed by Manchester United manager Matt Busby and seven of his players, known famously as the ‘Busby Babes’.

The printed programme was the last item to be viewed by Trevanion and Dean auctioneer Aaron Dean in Overton village hall on September 27 who recognised its importance immediately.

“A smile extended across my face because, as a young boy, Wrexham was the first team I saw play a league match,” he said.

“However, my eyes soon focused on four words written on the top ‘Best wishes Matt Busby’.

I looked up at the gentleman sitting opposite me and enquired “Is this ‘the’ Matt Busby?”, but this was not the only signature.

“On the back page of the programme are seven of the Busby Babes team signatures, including Duncan Edwards, Mark Jones, Bill Foulkes, Dennis Violet, Billy Whelan and Jim Murphy.

Aaron was told by the owner that as a 14-year-old, he was very excited about seeing Manchester United play, as at that time seeing them on Wrexham’s own ‘home turf’ was quite an event.

They used to regularly travel the eight miles from Overton to Wrexham to watch home matches.

Having taken the bus to the game on January 26, 1957, he managed to get some signatures of players as they were coming off the pitch, and then waited patiently at the exit of the away team changing room to collect the remaining autographs

While he was disappointed after Wrexham’s 5-0 defeat, he was cheered up by getting the autographs of players that, at that time, were the best in the country.

For Mr Dean, there is an added poignancy to this programme.

He added: “ A little over a year later some of players who had signed it died as a result of the Munich Air Disaster on February 6, 1958.

“Sadly, this includes Edwards, regarded by many as one of the greatest players of his generation, perhaps of all time.”

However, there was one final secret that nestled innocently within the pages of the programme: the original match day ticket.

This cut piece of normal paper with simple ink stamps is a far cry from the glossy, foiled serial number examples seen today.

The signed programme has been consigned to auction with Trevanion and Dean Auctioneers, Whitchurch, on Saturday, October 20, Lot 275, with an estimate of £200-300.

For more details go to www.trevanionanddean.com/auctions/