Monday, 28 November 2011

The Need For Speed

I’ve got nowt funny to say today. Not one word humorous comment. Some of you’ll reckon there’s no change there, then.

If you think of Gary Speed you think of a chest-out midfielder with a great left peg; you think of the classic football cliché of a lad who had a great leap for a small man; you think of a Leeds team that somehow won the Premier League; you think of a committed international footballer and a manager who recognised that Wales have a generation of young footballers headed by Bale and Ramsey who are capable of doing special things.

And even the most heterosexual of men can acknowledge that the man was as easy on the eye as sun sparkling off a Spanish sea.

You’d have thought that with all that going for him the man would have every right to be the sort of cocky wanker that sometimes appears to blight the modern game.
I know in such circumstances you’re not going to hear a bad word said about someone, but even then some wiseacre’ll say summat out the corner of his mouth if there was anything that you needed reminding of. To be fair that’d usually be me.

But no, Gary Speed was adored. What makes this tragedy deeper is the fact that he was so deeply loved by all who played with him and watched him.

That’s a pretty hard ask when he played for a fair few clubs. Club loyalty is not what it was and football fans don’t have much time for the modern mercenary who tears around from club to club in his latest playing-card-thin Italian sports car, his agent trailing behind him with an open suitcase to collect the £50 notes that are streaming out of the boot.

Speed played for Leeds, Everton, Newcastle... not clubs where temporary residence is welcomed. And still he commanded respect and adulation.

There’s nothing about this story that leaves you with anything other than a sense of sadness and even despair. Second only to his friends and family will be the players he was managing at international level.

Welsh football has had a fickle old relationship with its gaffers for many years, with John Toshack popping up like an unwelcome uncle at a family wedding. Speed, after a not-too-successful stint at Bramall Lane, took over and the change has been really something.

He leaves a team brimming with belief, immensely capable, and as pleasant to look at as the manager himself. Lord knows who’s going to keep that going, but I hope that that legacy is not lost along with the way.

As a side-issue, one of my least favourite pundits has come out of this with renewed respect. I heard Robbie Savage on the 5Live phone-in and what came across was a genuine friend in a state of utter grief. And given what folks say about Speed it’s unlikely that he’d form such a firm friendship with a pillock. Savage has been honourable, sincere and his bewilderment at this loss just compounds our collective sense of shock.

It’s impossible to even speculate as to what might be the reason for his suicide – and that’s not for the likes of me to consider any road. His death has, however, come at a time when the Leveson enquiry has unveiled case after case of immoral pillaging of people’s private lives in search of a scoop.

And once the shock has faded, the questions will be asked, and let’s just hope and pray that the phones will remain untapped, the bins untroubled, the kids unpestered. Let’s face it there’s been some devastating tragedies in recent years that have had your average reptilian hack salivating like a komodo dragon with a poisoned buffalo in its vicinity.

RIP. Let him rest in peace. Let the family grieve in peace. They will want to know why he took his own life, but the rest of us don’t need to.

Like I say, I’ll remember Speed as a footballer. Those that know him remember him as a great colleague. Football isn’t that important, but it’s good, even in those tragic of circumstances, that it can be populated by some dedicated, gifted and thoroughly decent human beings. Though whether there are any better than Speed is highly unlikely.


  1. Madness, utter madness. As a full on hater of Leeds Utd I never liked him as a player but as a manager he was doing great things with Wales (an oxymoron if ever there was one). As I said, Madness. RIP


  2. It even takes the joy out of being first!

    Rastafairy again.

  3. I'd keep the usual blabber bakc on the previous blog then and leave this one for wha tit is, a simple tribute.

  4. RIP Speedo.

    He was as clean a footballer you'd get. Not heard his name pop up for any wrong reasons. Sure he will be missed by his family, colleagues and countrymen.

  5. Great post, well said, a really tragedy.

  6. Timely and well put. Thanks Robbo.

  7. Well said Robbo, and my centiments exactly re: the press and the current inquiry into their efforts. The last thing the family will need is the same old story that thousands of others have had thrust upon them by Murdoch, Morgan and their band of merry asswipes pilliaging their throw out panty liners in hopes of an extra 50,000 copies of whatever rag has paided them to be blood hounds.

    RIP Speed, from a shocked Charlton fan.

  8. I'm having great diffuculty trying to make any sense out of what has happened, but then again, it's not really my place to do so.

    Heartfelt condolonces goes out to his family, for after all the hoopla dies down they will remain the ones with the biggest sense of loss.


  9. Jesus Gary how bad could things have been? Like I said on the last one, if that's not a life worth living pass me the fucking hemlock NOW!

    He had the sort of lifestyle us lowlives can only dream of. Great career, beautiful wife beautiful kids in a beautiful home. No Talking Heads moment, no revaluation, no cry for help just self destruction. It's impossible for me, with my shit little life which I'm strangely very happy with, to begin to understand. And we want to understand, don't we, its a human impulse.

    On the one hand i hope there is some reason, some recoverable secret, a mistake or debt or indiscretion or pathology that can at least help his boys make sense of it. He cant have been in his right mind, can he, to visit this grief on his kids? If he was it suggests an incipient nihilism sufficient to worry anyone.

    On the other hand, I don't care if there is a back story to this and if there is I hope the ferret who breaks it is beaten to death with wet copies of his own tabloid. Robbos right we don't need to know.

    Suicide is the most selfish of acts - I've known of two people who've done it and seen the bewilderment, pain and guilt it leaves behind - in both cases no one who knew them saw it coming, it was born out of some horrible unpredictable lonely impulse of despair - but how lonely must this man have felt when he tied that knot? No one deserves to feel like that least of all Gary Speed.


  10. Absolutely appalled. A great footballer, a champion, a decent human being and a massive loss to British football. A terrible day for his family and a terrible day for football

  11. Very nice blog, Robbo. Spot on. I remember him best as part of that Leeds midfield with Strachan, McAllister and Batty, with Lee Chapman up front. A great team of the time.

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  13. Echoing Robbos and everyones thoughts

    And as Savage eloquently put it, Why?---

    I dont need/want to know the answer, but Why?

    Gary Speed

  14. Nice one Robbo !

  15. Hi there everyone, its been a while but this whole sorry business has brought my return. Sorry if I stink. Suicide is such a waste of a life it almost always makes me angry with the person thats done it. Not in this case however. I remember as a kid Match magazine doing a comparison between him and Giggs and he won by one point (all because Giggs couldn't head the ball), being an avid Man U fan I was raging but what a player he was, and what a team Wales had in the early 90s!

    I think more will come out of this and if the reports in Twitter are anything to go by its another scandal involving another Murdoch shite rag. I understand what you mean by we don't need to know but I can't help feeling if the reports are true(Apparently The Sun were going to break a story about Speed's sexuality yesterday) maybe this could be the high water mark of bullshit journalism that the people will eventually say "No" to.

    I think Osbourne's speech today about new strategies being deployed(pretty much all what Labour said 2 years ago) to save the economy and dead soldiers flying home should help us understand where the real news is.

  16. Very very sad. RIP Gary Speed. No more to be said right now.

  17. your blog sums up how most of us feel, my heart goes out to his family and close friends, brought me to tears on Sunday when I saw Shay Given crying.

  18. Caught between conflicting emotions of sorrow for his family and the larger footballing world, and anger at the rags. Not sure which is the stronger one at the mo, but it would be wrong to take the attention away from eulogies to Speedo to shooting all pseudo-journos. The time for that will come soon enough. Let me just say that the world is much the worse without Speedo. Can barely think of a handful of people in the entire sporting world who can live up to such standards. Great blog, Robbo. RIP Speedo.

  19. Really shocked at the news when it broke as he seemed to have everything going for him. Very sad for his family and friends. As Robbo said he was never in the press for the wrong reasons and a model professional

  20. Agree with everything that has been said. Judging from the stories on the BBC, Speed seems to have been the (rare) sort of fottballer who had time for the fans and actually went out of his way to make good on his promises. In charge of a team going places, and seemed to have everything going his way. Very sad.

    RIP Gary.


  21. A lot's going on in the world of football, but somehow, at the moment, this doesn't seem like the place to shoot the breeze with anecdotes, attemped humour and awful puns.

    So I'll return on the next blog and leave this one for what it is, a tribute to a talent lost too early.

  22. Decent blog and very impressive comments too. Keep up the good work Robbo,

  23. 1st division Championship, 1992. Premier League formed in the 92-93 season.
    So, he was the winner of the last old 1st division, not the Premier League.
    Even so, great player, destined to be a great manager.

    Great man.

    RIP Speedo.

  24. Robbo,
    I follow you for the laughs, the bulls+++, the usual provocations of a journo etc.
    But that was moving, sincere.
    Thank you