Letters to my sons. Trying to explain the world to two very small children.

January 15, 2012

The Death Of Gary Speed

Filed under: Culture,Football,Memories — Administrator @ 2:59 pm

Dear Boys,

I decided to wait some months until this story moved away from the public eye to write about the death of Gary Speed.

I was looking at the BBC News web site on a Sunday morning when I saw the headline flash up “Gary Speed confirmed dead”.  I was shocked because only the day before we had watched him on Football Focus. No other details of his death were given.

I told your mother that Gary was dead and she too felt the same feeling of shock. She asked how he died and I said I didn’t know but I thought it must be a car crash as I thought that he must spend a lot of time driving around to see various Welsh players plying their trade. My thought was that he must have been driving home late and crashed.

This though was not my first thought. My first thought was that he must have had a heart attack or some undiagnosed heart problem that reared its ugly head and killed him. I suppressed this thought because the man was extremely fit – he had trained regularly for most of his life while I have spent most of my life sitting behind a computer tapping away on a keyboard. If anyone should have a bad heart then it should be me. If someone supremely fit could unexpectedly die with a heart problem – what chance do I have?

I switched over to the BBC’s 24 Hour new channel and they were carrying the story but no mention of the cause of death was made, only that police had confirmed Gary’s death.

A quick Twitter search and information that Gary had taken his own life started to emerge. I have seen information that is quite clearly fake spread through email, FaceBook and Twitter before so my first thought was “this is rubbish, why are so many idiots regurgitating it”.

As I said earlier Gary Speed had been on Football Focus the day before, smiling and happy and joking with his old team mate Gary McAlister.

Then the newsreader confirmed that Speed had been found hung at his home and that it was suicide. I felt stunned, a knot developed in my stomach.  This could not be true. Why would he do such a thing? Had he been set up by the Sunday tabloid press? There were not mentions of him in that mornings press – so why?

The inquest into his death hasn’t started so maybe that will shed some light onto his real state of mind as opposed to the public image. I will always remember Speed for being a Newcastle United player.  For our first date I took your mother to a Newcastle game away at West Ham.  It was raining very hard that night and we got very wet. At half time we waited under the stand in the dry before making our way to our seats and missed Speed’s goal for Newcastle.

Even after the best part of two months I am still stunned and confused by his death.

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