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GOODISON RAW: The Gary Speed I Knew
by Ed Bottomley

I was always a little bit too trusting as a lad, I took things at face value. I never looked between any lines. Everything was judged by its cover. My first memory of Everton is typically naive. I overheard my dad talking about Gary Lineker in reverential, passion filled tones. “I love him like a son.” I rushed downstairs, grabbed an Everton annual and gazed at the man on the cover; my brother Gary Lineker. 

I first heard the word “shithouse” at Selhurst Park. Some Evertonians had spotted Andy Gray sitting in the gantry above us and were lobbing abuse at him. He was a “shithouse”. He could have been our manager but he turned us down. The bastard. Later we found out that he had many reasons not to become our manager. “Shithouse” rescinded. Later still he was exposed as a slimy sexist oozing his repellant views over many a female. “Shithouse” seemed apt again.

The next time I heard “shithouse” it was about Gary Speed. He was an Everton fan and Everton captain and yet he pushed for a move to Newcastle. He was a Judas and a “shithouse”. When he returned to Goodison with his new team, we strafed him with vitriol. Money was waved at him, coins were thrown, we were screaming for his head – and when he started dishing up some rough tackles Goodison echoed with bloodcurdling howls. We were high on the fumes of hate. It turns out we may well have been wrong. Over 37,000 of us. Part of Speed’s transfer to Newcastle was a clause which guaranteed secrecy over the real reasons for his departure. He upheld that clause despite the abuse he received. 

Our opinions are forever shinning up a greasy pole until the facts have us sliding down to the bottom. I’m not Lineker’s brother. Gary Speed’s middle name isn’t “Shithouse”. 

After Speed’s shock death I watched Warren Barton touchingly share how Speed, his roommate and friend, used  to infuriate him with his incessant guitar playing. You could tell from the Londoner’s face that he would give anything to hear that guitar again. Later I heard Robbie Savage, an oft abused player himself, pay tribute to his friend. Savage, normally an effervescent Tigger of a man, was bowed by grief. His hushed tones and the fact that he wasn’t his normal self, a Welsh bullet ricocheting around the 606 studio, unfurled his pain for us listeners.   

The Gary Speed I knew was a wonderful player. Then he was an Everton player. Then an Everton captain. Then he was a shithouse. Then he wasn’t.

Written by Ed Bottomley

Everton fan exiled in Michigan. Duncan Ferguson obsessive, history buff, optimist. Follow me on Twitter @Dixies60


He was a blue. End of.

by Mick on Nov 28, 2011 at 9:50 pm

    I agree Mick. He was a blue. But we treated him disgracefully.

    by Ed Bottomley on Nov 28, 2011 at 10:06 pm

Hello both, despite how it might have sounded, not all of us berated Gary when he returned. Passion for your club is never an excuse for the kind of abuse he was subjected to. I happen to think that he was decent enough to forgive us, but perhaps it’s time fans learnt a lesson.

by Peter on Nov 28, 2011 at 10:34 pm

I am really glad to see you guys having this debate. I am a Newcastle fan (married to an Evertonian) and I remember well the abuse GS got from Everton fans at Newcastle and Goodison fixtures. We the fans will never know why he left Everton but he was a fan of your club and a great servant of mine. Just jarred with me slightly when I thought of the Everton fans jumping on the GS tribute bandwagon but the honesty and respect shown in the posts on this site restore my faith in you EFC lads. RIP Gary speed – true blue and a Geordie!

by Graeme on Nov 28, 2011 at 11:20 pm

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