Even after an exhaustive police inquiry and a public inquest, no one — not even the Cheshire county coroner — has a clue as to why he would take his own life.
Or even whether he finally intended to do so.
An inquest is not like a criminal court. There are none of the formalities of language or dress, none of the pomposity or showmanship. Coroner Nicholas Rheinberg conducted proceedings with admirable sympathy and began by reading written evidence supplied by those who best knew the deceased.
The doctor at his former club Sheffield United said Speed had “shown none of the resentment” he had witnessed in other footballers obliged by injury to stop playing.
Alan Shearer: “Of all the people I know, Gary was the last I could imagine doing something like this.”
Speed’s mother, Carol, who described her son as a “glass half-empty person”.
She had studied the footage of his television appearance the day before he died.
It wasn’t like Gary to go on camera without a shave, she said. And his smile looked a bit forced: it didn’t go to his eyes, as it always did. Even so, she simply could not understand why he had done it, not when he loved his family so much. And his dogs.
Then, Mr Rheinberg called on Speed’s wife, Louise to give verbal witness. Calm, clear, dignified, she agreed that their relationship had been strained by the demands, responsibilities and constant travel involved in his job as Wales manager. “He was a private man in a public role,” she said.
But they had determined to work through their issues. Even when he had taken her by surprise by mentioning suicide during a row conducted by text message four days before his death, she was certain he was only raising the idea quickly to dismiss it.
She then recalled the last evening of her husband’s life, the dinner party they had been to, the horseplay during which he had been pushed — fully clothed — into the swimming pool, the words they had exchanged after a taxi ride home.
“I can’t remember what it was about,” she said of their argument.
She told her husband she was going for a drive “to clear her head”. When she came back, she found she had been locked out of the house, so slept — on and off — in her car. Around 6.30am, when she had tried to gain access to use the lavatory, she had — and at this point she broke down — seen him through the garage window, hanging lifeless from the banister.
Speed left no note, no hint was uncovered in a search of his computer or mobile phone records of a possible motive, there had been no outward change in his demeanour.
There was no history of depression; at the time of his death, the alcohol in his system was only marginally above the legal driving limit.
When asked if she could think of any reason he might act in this way, Louise Speed shook her head slowly and whispered “no”.
The police officer who conducted the inquiry into his death then indicated that a damp patch on the garage steps had been made by Speed sitting for some time in trousers still wet from the pool, probably with a ligature round his neck.
It was this that led the coroner to conclude that an accident might have been possible. He could have fallen asleep and the cord tightened fatally. Such was the lack of certainty a narrative verdict was the only one he could deliver.
Personally, and it is not my place to find a conclusion that the coroner missed, but has there ever been evidence of an "accidental" hanging?
And I still find it extraordinary that his wife "cannot remember what the argument was about".
Those were the last words spoken between the two of them, and I find it bizarre she doesn't remember it.
Wednesday 01st February 2012
Blackburn Rovers v Newcastle United 20:00
Sunday 05th February 2012
Newcastle United v Aston Villa 13:30
Saturday 11th February 2012
Tottenham Hotspur v Newcastle United 17:30
EWOOD PARK - BLACKBURN ROVERS
What Is It Like For Away Supporters?
Away fans are housed at the WEC Group Darwen End, where the facilities provided are good. However, the spacing between the rows of seats leaves a lot to be desired, being quite tight. The Darwen End is shared with home supporters, but if demand requires it the whole of the stand can be made available. Normally the away allocation is for three quarters of the stand, at just under 4,000 tickets, which are split between the whole of the upper tier and part of the lower tier (with the lower tier being allocated first). If you have not bought a ticket in advance, then you need to buy one from the away supporters ticket office at the ground as you can't pay on the turnstiles. The ticket office is located on the corner of the Darwen End & the Jack Walker Stand.
Alcohol is available on the concourse as well as the normal fayre of pies, burgers, hot dogs and chips. The pies are made by the Clayton Park company, located nearby in Accrington and cost £2.30 each. A cottage pie is also on offer. If you are looking to eat something prior to entering the ground, then there is a baker in Bolton Road selling hot pies from one of its windows. Across the Bolton Road by the home end is a McDonalds, which I noticed had a walk through service for fans! I found the Blackburn fans both friendly and helpful, plus coupled with the relaxed stewarding, has made it so far for me, many pleasant visits to Ewood Park.'
Where To Drink?
The Fernhurst is really known as the 'away supporters pub'. It is on the Bolton Road (A666) just across from the ground at the away supporters end (Darwen End). It is a large pub with Sky Sports being shown on a large screen and has a restaurant area to its rear and a large function room upstairs. On my last visit the pub had even put up a number of signs welcoming the fans of the visiting team, which was a nice touch. The Fernhurst also offers reasonably priced accommodation. Most other pubs that I came across in the area, had large signs outside showing that they were for home fans only.
Jonathan Pegg a visiting Arsenal supporter informs me; 'The Fenhurst now charges £2 per person to actually enter the pub where you get your wrist date stamped. There is no parking available at the pub anymore and the bar closed half an hour before kick off. The prices were not far off my local with Fosters at £3.30 a pint and we counted 12 professional security staff (Bouncers in old speak) on the doors. Whilst some of these changes did have positives, for example the pub had lots of room, and there are still signs up saying welcome to the Arsenal fans, all in all it was rather dispiriting as to how this pub has evolved over the years'. Les Beaumont another Arsenal supporter adds; 'Arriving two hours before the match there was an admission charge of £2 to get into the Fernhurst pub. However, despite the pub not looking that crowded, there were 2 bouncers on each of the 3 entrances refusing everyone admission and directing us to a stall in the car park selling lager and keg beer at £3.30 a pint. The queue for this outlet took 15 minutes and we then had to stand in the pouring rain to drink our pints. The stall closed 30 minutes before kick-off but by that time I’d gone to the ground to get dry'.
* We have heard from Blackburn fan Paul Greaves that the Fernhurst is CLOSED for Wednesday evening's game! Work is being done on it and it won't be open until March 5th.
Andrew Kennedy adds; 'I would also recommend the Golden Cup pub just up Bolton Road from the Fernhurst (going away from the ground). It is on the small side but had a good mix of home and away supporters on my visit'. This pub is a good 15 minute walk away from the Fernhurst going uphill.
If you are arriving at Mill Hill station, then you might want to give the Navigation pub a try. It is a Thwaites pub which sits on one side of a canal and on my visit had a good mix of home and away supporters. It is about a five minute walk way from the station. As you exit the station turn left and just keep straight on up the road in front of you. As you approach a bridge going over the canal, the pub can be seen just over on the right.
Whilst just around the corner from the entrance to Blackburn Railway Station is a Wetherspoons outlet called the Postal Order. Alcohol is also served within the ground.
How To Get There And Where To Park
From The North
Use Motorway M6 to junction 30, to the M61 - leave junction 9 then onto the M65 towards Blackburn - leave the M65 at Junction 4 (A666) and follow signs towards Blackburn. Ewood Park is about 1 mile down the road on the right hand side.
From The South
Use Motorway M6 to junction 29, then onto the M65 towards Blackburn - leave the M65 at Junction 4 (A666) and follow signs towards Blackburn. Turn right at the first set of traffic lights and Ewood Park is about 1 mile down the road on the right hand side.
From The East
Use Motorway M62 onto M66/A56, then onto the M65, head towards Blackburn - leave the M65 at Junction 4 (A666) and follow signs towards Blackburn. Turn right at the first set of traffic lights and Ewood Park is about 1 mile down the road on the right hand side.
Various private Car Parks are available around the ground, costing in the region of £5. If you want to get away reasonably quickly after the game (the roads immediately around Ewood are closed off for crowd safety for around 30mins after the game) then as you come down the hill on the A666, you will pass a Total garage on your left. Turn right at the next traffic lights and down on your left there are some industrial units where you can park for £3. After the game turn left out of the car park, so that you are going away from Ewood, turn right at the second mini roundabout and this will take you back up to the M65.
Blackburn station is at least a couple of miles from the ground and hence a good 20-25 minute walk away. Perhaps grab a taxi instead, or as Dave Grest suggests; 'get a Darwen bound bus from stand M, outside of the railway station. It costs £1.50 one way and you really can't miss the ground'. Blackburn station is served by trains from Manchester & Leeds.
Tony Durkin adds; 'The main doors to the railway station face the bus station, from where you can take a either a Number 1, 3 or 225 bus (the latter goes from Stand N) bus to Ewood. To walk it to the ground instead, turn left at those main doors and go straight on towards Darwen Street. Turn left and you will reach a major junction over which runs a railway bridge (Darwen Street Bridge), which is impossible to miss. Crossing over the road as soon as you turn left onto Darwen Street will be a help, as when you get to the junction you need to follow the road towards Bolton. It is called Great Bolton Street after the bridge and then becomes Bolton Road. Follow this straight along for just over a mile (passing the Infirmary on your left and the canal on the right). After you go under another railway bridge, the ground is down on your left just after you pass the Aqueduct pub (for home fans only)'.
Tony Hughes informs me; 'Closer to the ground is the small station of Mill Hill, which is a 10-15 minute walk away. Blackburn station is only a three minute ride away from Mill Hill. Walk up the steps from the platform and turn Left onto New Chapel Street continue along the street past the shopping area and park. (If you need any money, there is a Lloyds TSB bank with 2 cash machines on this street.) With the Spar supermarket on the opposite side of the road from you, turn left into New Wellington Street. Continue down New Wellington Street until you come to a small bridge that crosses over the Leeds Liverpool canal. You are now on Albion Street there is a large mill building on the left and a small school on the right. Walk along Albion Street to the end, and you will find yourself on Livesey Branch Road. Turn Left onto this road, and you will be able to see the football stadium in front of you at the foot of the hill'.
NEWCASTLE UNITED 20011/12
FULHAM 5 NEWCASTLE 2 (Guthrie, Ben Arfa)
Krul, Simpson, Williamson, Coloccini, Santon, Ben Arfa, Guthrie (Perch 76), Cabaye (Gosling 83), Gutierrez, Best (Ryan Taylor 86), Shola Ameobi.
Subs Not Used: Elliot, Lovenkrands, Obertan, Ferguson.
NEWCASTLE 1 QPR 0 (Best)
Krul, Simpson, Coloccini, Williamson, Santon, Ryan Taylor (Gosling 81), Guthrie, Cabaye (Ben Arfa 25), Gutierrez, Best (Perch 76), Shola Ameobi.
Subs Not Used: Elliot, Abeid, Obertan, Ferguson.
NEWCASTLE 3 MAN UTD 0 (Ba, Cabaye, Jones og)
Krul, Simpson, Coloccini, Williamson, Santon, Ryan Taylor, Tiote, Cabaye (Perch 77), Gutierrez, Shola Ameobi (Best 75), Ba (Obertan 89).
Subs Not Used: Harper, Ben Arfa, Sammy Ameobi, Vuckic.
LIVERPOOL 3 NEWCASTLE 1 (Agger og)
Krul, Simpson, Williamson, Coloccini, Ryan Taylor (Santon 46), Obertan (Sammy Ameobi 84), Tiote, Cabaye, Gutierrez, Vuckic (Ben Arfa 65), Ba.
Subs Not Used: Elliot, Perch, Best, Shola Ameobi.
BOLTON 0 NEWCASTLE 2 (Ben Arfa, Ba)
Krul, Simpson, Coloccini, Williamson, Ryan Taylor, Obertan (Shola Ameobi 84), Cabaye (Perch 88), Tiote, Gutierrez, Ba, Best (Ben Arfa 61).
Subs Not Used: Elliot, Sammy Ameobi, Vuckic, Ferguson.
NEWCASTLE 2 WEST BROM 3 (Ba 2)
Krul, Simpson, Perch, Coloccini, Santon (Ryan Taylor 46), Obertan (Shola Ameobi 72), Vuckic, Tiote, Gutierrez, Best (Ben Arfa 61), Ba.
Subs Not Used: Elliot, Williamson, Abeid, Sammy Ameobi.
NEWCASTLE 0 SWANSEA CITY 0
Krul, Simpson, Perch, Coloccini, Santon, Obertan (Sammy Ameobi 82), Cabaye, Tiote (Vuckic 82), Gutierrez, Best (Shola Ameobi 71), Ba.
Subs Not Used: Harper, Williamson, Ben Arfa, Abeid.
NORWICH 4 NEWCASTLE 2 (Ba 2)
Krul, Santon (Ferguson 90), Simpson, Perch, Ryan Taylor, Obertan (Sammy Ameobi 80), Cabaye, Gosling, Gutierrez, Ba, Shola Ameobi (Smith 90).
Subs Not Used: Elliot, Ben Arfa, Lovenkrands, Best.
NEWCASTLE 0 CHELSEA 3
Krul, Simpson, S Taylor, Coloccini (Perch 27), R Taylor, Lovenkrands (Sammy Ameobi 71), Guthrie, Cabaye, Obertan, Ben Arfa (Shola Ameobi 46), Ba.
Subs Not Used: Harper, Santon, Gosling, Best.
MAN UTD 1 NEWCASTLE 1 (Ba pen)
Krul, Simpson, Steven Taylor, Coloccini, Ryan Taylor, Obertan (Sammy Ameobi 65), Cabaye, Guthrie (Perch 74), Gutierrez, Ben Arfa (Lovenkrands 80), Ba.
Subs Not Used: Elliot, Santon, Gosling, Shola Ameobi.
MAN CITY 3 NEWCASTLE 1 (Gosling)
Krul, Simpson, Steven Taylor, Coloccini, Ryan Taylor, Ben Arfa (Lovenkrands 76), Guthrie, Cabaye (Perch 85), Gutierrez, Ba, Sammy Ameobi (Gosling 79).
Subs Not Used: Elliot, Santon, Smith, Shola Ameobi.
NEWCASTLE 2 EVERTON 1 (Heitinga og, R Taylor)
Krul, Simpson, Coloccini, Steven Taylor, Ryan Taylor, Marveaux (Sammy Ameobi 54), Cabaye (Gosling 37), Guthrie, Gutierrez, Best (Ben Arfa 73), Ba.
Subs Not Used: Elliot, Santon, Lovenkrands, Perch.
STOKE 1 NEWCASTLE 3 (Barr 3)
Krul, Simpson, Steven Taylor, Coloccini, Ryan Taylor, Obertan, Guthrie (Gosling 90), Cabaye (Perch 78), Gutierrez, Best (Sammy Ameobi 86), Ba.
Subs Not Used: Elliot, Santon, Ben Arfa, Marveaux.
NEWCASTLE 1 WIGAN ATHLETIC 0 (Cabaye)
Krul, Simpson, Steven Taylor, Coloccini, Ryan Taylor, Obertan (Marveaux 76), Cabaye, Tiote, Gutierrez, Best (Ben Arfa 46), Ba (Shola Ameobi 68).
Subs Not Used: Harper, Santon, Perch, Smith.
NEWCASTLE 2 SPURS 2 (Ba, Ameobi)
Krul, Simpson (Santon 77), Steven Taylor, Coloccini, Ryan Taylor, Obertan, Cabaye, Tiote, Gutierrez, Best (Shola Ameobi 71), Ba (Ben Arfa 71).
Subs Not Used: Elliot, Lovenkrands, Gosling, Marveaux.
WOLVES 1 NEWCASTLE 2 (Ba, Gutierrez)
Krul, Simpson, Steven Taylor, Coloccini, Ryan Taylor, Obertan (Marveaux 90), Cabaye (Guthrie 89), Tiote, Gutierrez, Best, Ba (Lovenkrands 71).
Subs Not Used: Elliot, Santon, Ben Arfa, Sammy Ameobi.
NEWCASTLE 3 BLACKBURN 1 (Ba 3)
Krul, Simpson, Steven Taylor, Coloccini, Ryan Taylor, Obertan, Cabaye, Tiote, Gutierrez (Marveaux 84), Ba (Ben Arfa 74), Best.
Subs Not Used: Harper, Guthrie, Lovenkrands, Perch, Sammy Ameobi.
ASTON VILLA 1 NEWCASTLE 1 (Best)
Krul, Simpson, Steven Taylor, Coloccini, Ryan Taylor, Obertan, Cabaye, Tiote, Gutierrez (Sammy Ameobi 85), Best (Shola Ameobi 69), Ba (Marveaux 80).
Subs Not Used: Elliot, Guthrie, Lovenkrands, Perch.
QPR 0 NEWCASTLE 0
Krul, Simpson, Steven Taylor, Coloccini, Ryan Taylor, Obertan (Sammy Ameobi 88), Cabaye, Tiote, Gutierrez, Best (Marveaux 82), Shola Ameobi (Ba 64).
Subs Not Used: Elliot, Santon, Guthrie, Lovenkrands.
NEWCASTLE 2 FULHAM 1 (Best 2)
Krul, Simpson, Steven Taylor, Coloccini, Ryan Taylor, Lovenkrands (Ba 62), Cabaye, Tiote, Gutierrez, Obertan, Best (Vuckic 78), Vuckic (Smith 85).
Subs Not Used: Soderberg, Marveaux, Sammy Ameobi, Ferguson.
SUNDERLAND 0 NEWCASTLE UTD 1 (R Taylor)
Krul, Simpson, Steven Taylor, Coloccini, Ryan Taylor, Tiote, Cabaye (Williamson 85), Barton, Obertan (Gosling 85), Gutierrez, Shola Ameobi.
Subs Not Used: Harper, Lovenkrands, Ba, Best, Marveaux.
NEWCASTLE 0 ARSENAL 0
Krul, Coloccini, Steven Taylor, Ryan Taylor, Simpson, Barton, Cabaye (Lovenkrands 81), Tiote, Gutierrez, Shola Ameobi (Best 73), Ba (Obertan 46).
Subs Not Used: Forster, Williamson, Gosling, Sammy Ameobi.
BRIGHTON 1 NEWCASTLE 0
Krul, Simpson, Perch, Williamson, Santon (Ferguson 83), Guthrie (Gosling 83), Cabaye, Gutierrez, Ben Arfa (Ryan Taylor 83), Shola Ameobi, Best.
Subs Not Used: Elliot, Lovenkrands, Obertan, Kadar.
NEWCASTLE 2 BLACKBURN 1 (Ben Arfa, Gutierrez)
Krul, Simpson (Ryan Taylor 60), Coloccini, Williamson, Santon, Obertan (Shola Ameobi 56), Abeid (Gosling 87), Cabaye, Gutierrez, Ben Arfa, Best.
Subs Not Used: Elliot, Perch, Sammy Ameobi, Vuckic.
BLACKBURN 4 NEWCASTLE 3 (AET) Guthrie, Cabaye, Lovenkrands (pen)
Krul, Simpson (Sammy Ameobi 70), Perch, Coloccini, Santon, Marveaux (Obertan 77), Guthrie, Cabaye, Gutierrez, Ben Arfa (Lovenkrands 79), Ba.
Subs Not Used: Elliot, Abeid, Gosling, Ranger.
NOTTINGHAM FOR. 3 NEWCASTLE 4 (AET) Lovenkrands 2, Simpson, Coloccini
Elliot, Simpson, Coloccini, Perch, Ferguson, Abeid, Guthrie, Gosling (Shola Ameobi 70), Marveaux, Ben Arfa (Sammy Ameobi 70), Lovenkrands (Obertan 80).
Subs Not Used: Krul, Best, Dummett, Henderson.
SCUNTHORPE 1 NEWCASTLE 2 AET (R Taylor, Sammy Ameobi)
Krul, Simpson, Coloccini, Williamson (Steven Taylor 45), Ryan Taylor, Marveaux, Gosling (Vuckic 70), Cabaye, Lovenkrands, Best, Ba (Sammy Ameobi 65).
Subs Not Used: Soderberg, Abeid, Smith, Ferguson.
NEWCASTLE 0 FIORENTINA 0 (Ab 63 mins)
Krul (Forster 46), Simpson, S Taylor, Coloccini, Enrique, Gosling (Ba 46), Cabaye, Vuckic, Jonas (Marveaux 46) Lovenkrands (R Taylor 61), Best (Shola Ameobi 46).Subs: Sammy Ameobi, Ranger, Tavernier, Williamson.
LEEDS UTD 3 NEWCASTLE 2 (S.Taylor, Vuckic)
Forster, Cabaye, Williamson, Barton, Simpson, Gosling, Gutierrez, Ba, Shola Ameobi, Taylor, Tavernier. Subs: Krul, Taylor, Best, Vuckic, Sammy Ameobi, Dummett.
COLUMBUS CREW 0 NEWCASTLE 3 (Ameobi, Coloccini, Vuckic)
Harper; Tavernier, S Taylor, Coloccini (Dummett, 54), Enrique; Gutierrez (Abeid, 85), Tiote (Smith, 62), Gosling, Marveaux (Vuckic, 76); Ameobi (Best, 75), Ba. Subs not used: Forster, Krul.
ORLANDO CITY 1 NEWCASTLE 0
Forster; R Taylor (Enrique, 26), S Taylor, Coloccini, Tavernier; Gosling (Vuckic, 71), Smith (Abeid, 74), Tiote, Gutierrez; Best (Ba, 74), Lovenkrands (Ameobi, 74). Subs not used: Krul, Harper.
SPORTING KANSAS 0 NEWCASTLE 0
Krul, Gosling, Coloccini, S Taylor, R Taylor, Marveaux (Tavernier 46), Tiote (Abeid 46), Ben Arfa, Gutierrez, Ba (Best 72), Lovenkrands (Smith 46).
DARLINGTON 0 NEWCASTLE 2 (Barton, Sammy Ameobi)
Forster; Simpson (Dummett), S Taylor (Tavernier), Williamson (Henderson), Ferguson (R Taylor); Barton (Abeid), Guthrie (Cabaye, Donaldson), Smith (Gosling), Vuckic (Sammy Ameobi); Ben Arfa (Richardson), Best (Ranger). Subs not used: Soderberg, Newton.