Gary Speed: Unspoken – The Family’s Untold Story

Monday, 17 September, 2018 25comments  |  Jump to last

It's been nearly seven years since Gary Speed tragically took his own life. The demons that tormented him have been a mystery even to his wife, Louise, who he met in school as a teenager.

She still struggles with his loss, and is speaking out about it in a new book written by John Richardson, a friend and journalist.

“It's something I will find hard to forgive Gary for, forever. We were the ones who had to pick up the pieces. Everyone asks me why he did it, but I have no answers. And that's why I will never have any closure.”

When news came through of Gary's death, the shock and sadness were shared to an unusual degree by the wider world. Because here was a genuine, modest man who seemed to have it all. And who was so loved and respected.

“Yes, there was so much love out there for him and that's why the impact it has left is almost indescribable. It rips apart a large part of you which you can never replace because what happened was unnatural,” says Louise.

The manner of his departure from Everton years earlier had left a nasty taste, and rumours were rife at the time, many of them never to be resolved.

Depression, well hidden from even his family, and possible undiagnosed mental illness remain factors to explain the inexplicable loss of a fine Evertonian at the age of just 42.

Gary Speed: Unspoken - The Family's Untold Story, by John Richardson and published by Sport Media, is priced £18.99 and goes on sale Thursday 20 September.

[Louise Speed is not receiving any proceeds from the book. At her request, a donation is being made to the Heads Together campaign.]

» Read the full article at Liverpool Echo

Reader Comments (25)

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Liam Reilly
1 Posted 18/09/2018 at 13:51:22
I still recall the moment I heard this shocking news; couldn't believe it.

Seemed like a true gentleman; but obviously a tortured soul as it appeared he'd been suffering from mental illness since his teens when he was a trainee working with that piece of shit 'Bennell'.

4 kids who he coached have killed themselves. As a father myself, I wouldn't mind a few minutes alone with him now.

Peter Gorman
2 Posted 18/09/2018 at 15:42:41
I remember the acrimonious circumstances of his departure from Everton and his only comment being that he didn't want to reveal the truth as he didn't want to damage the club that he loved.

I was never satisfied with that answer and was always curious to know what was going through his mind but that is nothing compared to the later tragedy for his family and friends and if there are any answers to be had I'd rather they got them, to be frank.

Kieran Kinsella
3 Posted 18/09/2018 at 15:57:37
Tough subject and I imagine it's harder to deal with when you're in the public eye. I saw this week Lenny Pidgely the Farnborough goalie retired due to mental health issues. He wanted to keep it quiet but the club went public with it. Shitty move by the club if the guy wanted privacy.
Jay Wood

4 Posted 18/09/2018 at 16:07:33
Seven years already. My word.

Such purgatory for the family.

A dreadful event to live and come to terms with and never fully knowing the reason 'why?'

Steve Ferns
5 Posted 18/09/2018 at 16:19:48
There was one good young manager, blue at heart, with a score to settle at Goodison (his time here did not go the way he wanted). He was destined for the job, but sadly it was not to be. He's greatly missed.
Dave Brierley
6 Posted 18/09/2018 at 16:49:58
Oh for a Gary Speed to day.

A great talent who left Everton and life far too early.

Steve Ferns
7 Posted 18/09/2018 at 16:54:21
Dave, we wouldn't be having the captain debate on the other thread if we had a (circa 1996) Gary Speed right now.
Tommy Carter
8 Posted 19/09/2018 at 21:21:21
Wonderful player, brave as a lion and absolutely phenomenal in the air. He was one of the best signings we made in the last 30 years and it was just a massive shame that the club fell to pieces around him not long after he joined.
Joe McMahon
9 Posted 19/09/2018 at 21:41:25
Tommy, in the last 30 years, the best along with Beardsley. Of course, we sold them both, like we did Alan Ball, Lineker, Lukaku etc.
Brian Wilkinson
10 Posted 19/09/2018 at 23:13:07
So after all these years of Speed not wanting his Journo mate to publish the reason why, his friend repays his loyalty with going against Gary’s wishes and spills the beans in the new book out.

Down to Kendall’s drink problems, so not only have we got this dragged up against Gary’s wishes, we now have our former manager tarnished as well.

Only thing is though we all knew about Kendall’s drinking, so not hard to put two and two together and come up with an easy answer.

None of the above two are here to defend or deny the reason.

Steve Ferns
11 Posted 19/09/2018 at 23:31:44
The thing is, Brian, it was always held out as this "secret reason for leaving". Like there was something we'd never believe and he didn't want to get out.

Before any revelations, even the toned down ones in the original book, you ask any Blue why Gary left and they said it was because Kendall was drinking too much and there was rumours he got himself into such a state that he couldn't pick the side or deliver the team talk.

Now the revelation is out, everyone can say, yeah that's what I thought, or that's what I heard, or is that all? Kendall's reputation isn't really tarnished as everyone knew he was a pisshead at the end. Speed's reputation is restored, and any theory it might be something else, something even worse, can be put to bed.

So, I'm ok with the "truth" being released.

Phil Sammon
12 Posted 20/09/2018 at 00:53:26
It's a testament to Speedo that fans of every club he played for absolutely adored him. Such a lovely down-to-earth guy and a terrific player. I can only imagine what he was going through, and what his family now live with. Heartbreaking stuff.
Derek Thomas
13 Posted 20/09/2018 at 01:37:18
Peter @ 2... there are no answers. Speeds reasons, if we could but know them, won't make sense to you, me, his family or anybody. You have to be looking at the world out of their eyes... and you can't.

Having had a family member go down the same path, it's as if (guessing here) there were two people there, but you only saw the outside one. Nobody could tell before, nobody could say why after. The Coroner summed it up in that old archaic, but still viable phrase... 'while the balance of his mind was disturbed'.

Steve Brown
14 Posted 20/09/2018 at 04:25:14
Steve @ 11, you are right. Most Evertonians quickly learned the truth about Mr Kendall's drinking and the role it played on Gary Speed's departure. It was common knowledge at the time. That's why I never understood why Gary continued to get stick from Everton fans. I don't think it lowers our esteem for Howard as he was truly loved when alive and mourned when he passed away.

Gary's suffering in silence just shows how stigmatised mental health remains in all societies around the world, which makes it so difficult to speak up and ask for help. The book reveals that he had been suffering from his teens with depression and it is truly sad that he never felt able to turn to someone.

Andrew Cunningham
15 Posted 20/09/2018 at 07:09:43
I think its a bit unfair to label our most successful manager a "pisshead". Alcoholism is a disease as is mental illness. Long may they both live in our memories.
John Keating
16 Posted 20/09/2018 at 09:02:54
Now and again, in certain circumstances, saying nothing is sometimes the best.
Dave Abrahams
17 Posted 20/09/2018 at 09:34:25
John (#16), how right you are. Howard had a problem, a big one; amazingly, he was appointed manager a third time although most people knew of his illness and he should have been looked after better by people who knew of Howard's problem.

Unfortunately Howard had had this problem for quite a while and it didn't help the ultra professional Gary Speed. I knew that some days Gary was taking the training sessions at Bellfield because Howard was "sleeping it off". In the end, Gary had to go and asked for a transfer, he took the brunt of that episode and paid for it every time he revisited Goodison Park.

I hope I wasn't the only Evertonian who wrote to him, at the time he went to Newcastle, and explained I knew the reason he had left and understood why he had to go. I also said that I didn't expect him to reply to my letter but I would always remember his time at Everton for the quality he showed while he was here.

Gary always remained high on my list of favourite Everton Players, especially for his silence on his leaving of Everton.

Howard Kendall will stay on that list, especially as a player. I could talk about his performances for the Blues all day long, brilliant. As a manager, who knows how long he would have stayed at the top if his illness hadn't taken over his ability?

David Graves
18 Posted 20/09/2018 at 11:20:41
Good point, Andrew. On a strand highlighting the devastating effect of mental illness to refer to someone who had Howard's problems as a "pisshead" is a terrible phrase to use even though no disrespect was intended.

I also always thought that the club should have looked after him better but we don't know what was done to try and help. Howard played and managed when there was a significant drinking culture in football. Perhaps the influx of foreign managers and players did do a great deal to change that culture and thankfully clubs seem to be able to support players and staff better now.

There is still a lot of work to be done though but there are some excellent initiatives in sport to support ex-players and to promote positive mental heath in sport; State of Mind in Rugby is a fantastic example.

Peter Gorman
19 Posted 20/09/2018 at 12:25:13
Derek Thomas – I'm sorry to hear about your family member as unfortunately I also know how such a thing can absolutely shatter those left behind.

Trying to second guess everything from the circumstances to the thought-processes is all part of the process of coming to terms, even if it is ultimately fruitless.

Tony Abrahams
20 Posted 20/09/2018 at 12:29:01
I agree with Liam @1. That bastard Burnell, was an absolute monster, and during his trial, it came to be seen that most of his victims, were little village kids, rather than little kids who came from the city.

I agree with Steve Fearns, that Speed, was destined for a very good managerial career, and don't think it was any fluke that Wales, finally qualified for a major tournament, and then exceeded all expectations once they got there, on the back of some great work started by Gary Speed.

Tony Abrahams
21 Posted 20/09/2018 at 12:35:12
Heard a funny story last week whilst away with my mates "on the ale". My mate was telling me that Kendall was in the boardroom discussing the team, and a couple of his signings were under scrutiny.

It came to Paul Rideout and they were giving him some stick over this signing. Apparently Howard turned to one of his directors and said you told me to sign him.

"I bloody never told you to get Rideout — I told you to go and get dried out!" came the reply.

Jay Harris
22 Posted 20/09/2018 at 13:16:22
I think Gary Speed would be horrified this came out although most locals already knew the issue. Gary Speed was a very private person which ultimately cost him his life prematurely.

I heard the final straw was when they were coming off at half time (can't remember which game) and Speed picked up what he thought was a water bottle near the bench which turned out to be vodka.

Howard and Gary Speed were always gentlemen who gave their all for the blues and I will certainly remember them both fondly no matter what the pressures of life caused them to do.

RIP, two very true Blues.

Christopher Timmins
23 Posted 20/09/2018 at 14:18:16
Two great members of the Everton family, one an absolute legend at the club.

"Sometimes you say it best when you say nothing at all".

God bless both men!

Mike Gaynes
24 Posted 20/09/2018 at 14:46:17
Well said, Andrew Cunningham #15. And Dave #17 as always.
Steve Ferns
25 Posted 20/09/2018 at 18:58:23
Apologies for the use of that word. No offence was intended.

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