AS the football world marks the 50th anniversary today of the Munich air disaster in which 23 people died - including eight Manchester United players - Cherries fans and former players will be remembering their own encounter with the legendary Busby Babes.

Just a few months before that awful afternoon, Bournemouth and Boscombe Athletic were drawn at home in the FA Cup quarter-finals against mighty United, the best side in the country, boasting the legendary Duncan Edwards.

Although Cherries were languishing in the old Third Division (South), it was - and remains - their best ever Cup run.

In the first three rounds, they knocked out Burton Albion, Swindon Town and Accrington Stanley, scoring 11 goals in the process and conceding none.

But it was the next three games that would put manager Freddie Cox and his side in the national spotlight.

Round four saw Cherries beat Wolverhampton Wanderers (including Billy Wright), then third in the First Division, in front of a crowd of 42,000. Reg Cutler scored the only goal, and 4,000 fans travelled from Bournemouth to Molineux.

Surely they couldn't go one better by seeing off Tottenham Hotspur, second in the league - with Danny Blanchflower, Terry Medwin and Ted Ditchburn in their ranks - at Dean Court in the fifth round?

They did, and convincingly, 3-1, with Ollie Norris, Stan Newsham and Nelson Stiffle on target in front of a record crowd of 25,892. Over 60 reporters packed the press enclosure, and called it "the Cup upset of the century."

There was an inevitability about Boscombe drawing Manchester United, league leaders and FA Cup holders, in round six.

Incredibly, the little south coast club stood just two games from Wembley, and the biggest fixture on the football calendar.

The attendance record was smashed for the second time in quick succession, with 28,799 squeezing inside Dean Court on an unseasonally sunny and warm March afternoon.

The Cherries team that day was: Tommy Godwin, Mike Lyons, Arnold Woollard, Lew Clayton, captain Harry Hughes, Joe Brown, Stiffle, Norris, Brian Bedford, Newsham and Cutler.

Another upset looked on the cards as Bedford gave Cherries a shock lead after just 10 minutes.

Norris, a livewire inside-forward, was under orders from the innovative Cox to jump up and down in front of opponents taking throw-ins and free kicks.

It was after one of these routines that Norris and United defender Mark Jones clashed in the air. Jones landed badly, twisting his knee, and Bedford pounced on the loose ball to put Cherries ahead.

With no substitutes, Jones limped on until half-time and didn't re-emerge for the second half, leaving United to play on with 10 men.

Edwards - just 20, but already an England regular and the most highly-rated young player in the country - dropped back into defence.

There was to be no fairytale ending for Boscombe, as United hit back with two goals by Johnny Berry.

Both goals were controversial, though, with more than a hint of offside about the first, and the second, a penalty, awarded for handball against Brown, who claimed the ball actually hit his chest.

Cherries - temporarily known as "Cox's Pippins" - were honoured with a Civic Dinner at the Pavilion Theatre, and the Sunday Pictorial awarded them the Giant-killers' Cup.

The impossible dream proved to be just that - but the fans and players still remember the day the world-famous Busby Babes came to town.

David Swindells, from Strouden Park, was a 22-year-old Boscombe supporter when Cherries played United.

"I think Matt Busby was a worried man because, although United were Cup holders, we hadn't been beaten at home for something like 30 games.

"When we went one up, they said you could hear the roar in Ringwood!

"I think that might be a bit of myth, but I do know we were packed in so tightly - I was on the South End - that I had a bar of chocolate in my pocket and simply couldn't get it out to eat it.

"Unusually, as both teams normally played in red shirts, Boscombe wore white and United were in blue. We dared to dream we could win, and we did worry them, but ultimately they were too good for us. Everyone knew about Duncan Edwards, he was a hero.

"Joe Brown, who had the penalty awarded against him, went on the play for United and was their youth development officer for years. He was a very devout religious man, known for his honesty, and always said the ball struck his chest, not his hand."

United went on to lose to Aston Villa in the final in May 1957, where their goalkeeper, Ray Wood, was badly injured in a late challenge by Peter McParland, who scored both the Midlan-ders' goals in a 2-1 win.

The following February, several of the United players that had graced Dean Court were killed in the plane crash at Munich as they returned from a Europ-ean Cup match against Red Star Belgrade.

British European Airways flight 609 crashed following a third attempt to take off from a slush-covered runway, killing 23 of 44 people on board.

Roger Byrne, Eddie Colman, Dave Pegg, Mark Jones and Billy Whelan all died instantly, along with Geoff Bent and Tommy Taylor, who had missed the game in Bournemouth through injury.

Duncan Edwards, famous for his fitness and strength, survived for 15 days before succumbing to terrible injuries. Matt Busby, twice given the last rites because of his terrible injuries, eventually pulled through after two months in hospital.

Of the team that played at Bournemouth, only Wood, Dennis Viollet, Bill Foulkes and Berry survived the crash. Wilf McGuiness, who also appeared at Dean Court, wasn't on the plane.

Jackie Blanchflower and Berry, the man who scored twice to deny Cherries, were so badly injured they never played again.