Three years on, RIP Speedo

27 Nov 2014 09:08am, by YorkshireSquare

This morning was a day that started with tragedy and sadness. My alarm clock clicked on to 5 Live news and I heard the news that yesterday I had spent all day hoping would not come. Australian cricketer Phil Hughes had lost his fight for life after a freak accident two days ago when he was struck on the top of the neck by a short pitched delivery in a Sheffield Shield match.

Sport is such an amazing thing, there are such rivalries and hostility but in moments of tragedy people come together and support each other in their time of grief. The tributes for Phil Hughes this morning have been universally warm and heartfelt from both team mates and opponents right across the globe. A good bloke and top sportsman taken from us too soon. It’s an all too sad echo of the news three years ago on Sunday 27th November 2011 of the tragic death of Gary Speed. The circumstances of course are very different but the reaction in many ways is the same.

Football is a very partisan sport, people like to divide themselves into their factions but the outpouring of feeling towards Gary Speed transcended that. He was extremely popular within the game, loved by players, journalists and fans alike. Stadiums across the country, Elland Road, St James Park, Goodison Park, Reebok Stadium became focal points for peoples tributes. The sight of Leeds United, Manchester United, Newcastle & Everton shirts lying next to each other on the steps of Billy Bremners statue was particularly poignant.

Hearing the emotional outpourings of John Hartson and Bryn Law on the radio and television, seeing the tributes around grounds across the country show how popular, respected and loved Gary was. It’s unusual in the modern era for players to be universally popular but Speedo will always be remembered with great affection by supporters of all of his former clubs.

For me Speedo was a player I grew up with, he was starting out his playing career at Leeds when I was attending my first games at the age of six. He was practically ever present in the great Championship winning midfield with Gordon Strachan, Gary McAllister and David Batty. Like many fans of my generation he was my favourite player. He was quick, hard working and scored some great goals.

Gary Speed will never be forgotten and always remembered with a great deal of fondness and affection by a great number of people. Thanks for the memories Gary.

Gary Speed
8th September 1969 – 27th November 2011