Leeds United Plan Gary Speed Tribute Before Boro Game – by Rob Atkinson


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Gary Speed tribute banner

It seems almost incredible – but on the 27th of November it will have been two full years since the tragic news broke of the death, apparently by suicide, of Gary Speed.  Rarely can news of a sudden death have taken the football world so utterly by surprise.  Speed was the current manager of the Welsh national team and, by common consent, was doing a fantastic job in reviving their fortunes.  He was a hero to the fans of all the clubs he had served – Leeds United, Everton, Newcastle Utd, Bolton Wanderers and Sheffield United. He was only 42.

The eventual outcome of the inquest into Gary Speed’s death was a “narrative verdict” of death by self suspension.  A narrative verdict exists to give the coroner the option of arriving at a cause of death without attributing that cause to a named individual.  The verdict therefore stopped short of a conclusion of suicide, where obviously there would be an attribution of cause to the deceased.  To this extent, Speed’s death remains an imponderable mystery.  He had appeared on the BBC’s Football Focus programme on Saturday 26th November, less than 24 hours before he was found dead by his wife Louise.  It had been noted by Focus presenter Dan Walker that Speed had been “in fine form”.  The shock and dismay among those who had known him, and more widely among his legion of fans, is not easy to describe.  The feeling was perhaps best summed up by his close mate Bryn Law, a football reporter who appeared on Sky Sports News to talk about what had happened but, distressingly, was clearly overcome by the emotion he felt.

Two years on, the known facts behind Gary Speed’s death are still insufficient to lead to any understandable reason for why and how it happened.  Fans at his various clubs have continued to pay tribute to his memory at various intervals, or when two of his former teams have met – as with the Capital One Cup match between Newcastle and Leeds United earlier this season.  Tributes have usually taken the form of chanting Speed’s name from the 11th minute of a game, for a period of 11 minutes.  This first happened during Leeds United’s first game after Speed’s death, a 4-0 success at Nottingham Forest when Leeds actually scored during the eleven minute tribute.  The chant was resumed after the goal celebration subsided.

It is planned and requested by Leeds United Football Club that there should be a similar 11 minute chant from the 11th minute during Saturday’s visit of Middlesbrough.  The banner pictured above will also be paraded around the ground.  Gary Speed was a fine servant to the club, as he was to his other clubs and to his country.  An Everton fan as a boy, Speed achieved his greatest success at Leeds United, winning a Second Division Championship medal and then two years later the Football League Championship itself in the competition’s final year.  He went on to appear in two consecutive FA Cup Finals for Newcastle Utd.

Gary Speed MBE (8 September 1969 – 27 November 2011): proud Welshman and a Leeds United Title-winning hero.  Taken two years ago next Wednesday – taken far too soon at only 42.  RIP Speedo.

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7 responses to “Leeds United Plan Gary Speed Tribute Before Boro Game – by Rob Atkinson

  1. I’m not sure about this; there was a very moving tribute at the time of his death. Is there to be a tribute every year? After five, ten years, twenty? Why not a tribute to Grenville Hair in that case, who played 443 games for Leeds (200 more than Gary Speed) and died at 36? It’s sad but people die, and some of them too young. He won’t be forgotten, that’s for sure, but it’s time to move on.

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    • Well no-one’s suggesting it’ll happen for twenty years, and even if that was the plan, it still wouldn’t quite do it for poor Grenville, who died 45 years ago. But at only TWO years ago, and in the horrible circumstances of his death, the whole Gary Speed thing is still quite raw and emotional – plus, times have changed since the sixties – what with social media, there’s a lot more “emotional mobility” – everyone wants to share their feelings and talk things out, seek a little catharsis. And why not?

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  2. Great looking banner (to a true gent & professional) which should be paraded at every game, along with supporters own flags/banners, across the top of the East stand seats if that part of the ground is not being used. Can you imagine the opposing team coming out of the tunnel to face a wall of ‘white’ noise and banners, it would surely help to make ER a fortress again

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    • I like that idea. They do it at the Theatre of Hollow Myths, in fact that’s the only bit of atmosphere the place ever gets apart from when Leeds Rhinos reach a Grand Final!

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  3. Great article Rob, keep it up.

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  4. bob baines

    Oo gary gary, absolute legend and when ever we sing that song makes the hairs on the back o mi neck stand up n brings a tear t the eye, never forget that long curly hair n wot a fantastic player he truly was.

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  5. Still seems unreal rob , I saw him on said football focus and as was said at the time he looked on good form , Wales had a really good look about them and all that was credit to speedo , no one will ever know the real story of what happened that night but I like thousands of others will always hold him in the highest regard , RIP Gary speed

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