The tribute to Gary Speed planned at St. James’ Park was postponed from the Chelsea game, at the request of Gary Speed’s wife Louise, and will take place this afternoon before the game against Swansea.
Gary Speed with wife Louise shortly before his death last month
Louise and other family members will join fans today at St James’ Park as Geordies get their chance to honor the man who played for Newcastle from January of 1998 until July of 2004.
He was brought to the club by Kenny Dalglish, who paid Everton around £5M for him, and he stayed on Tyneside until 2004, when he was surprisingly sold to Bolton Wanderers.
Gary played 284 times for Newcastle with 40 goals, and he was loved by Newcastle fans, and was part of the successful side that the great Bobby Robson built on Tyneside.
There will be black and white cards held up by Newcastle fans in the East Stand of St James’ Park this afternoon, and they mark Speed’s number at Newcastle – number 11.
And it will be Welsh opera singer Gwyn Hughes Jones, who will sing the hymn Bread Of Heaven along with the supporters, before the game with Swansea City.
That will be followed by one minute’s applause to honor the great memories we all had of Gary Speed.
And we think it is fitting to have the first Welsh side ever to play in the Premier League, as the visitors today for this ceremony, as it is for a great Welshman who played 85 times for his country with 7 goals.
Gary was the current Welsh manager and had won three games in a row, when he committed suicide in his garage, under tragic circumstances, on 27th November at the young age of 42.
It seems that Gary suffered from depression, unbeknownst to the many of the friends who knew him, and they included close friend Alan Shearer, and their families went on summer vacations together.
But it’s today that fans will get a chance to honor a man whom I admired very much as a role model in football.
And I’ve been asked to remind local fans who are going to the game this afternoon, to bring along their black and white scarves.
Gary was a wonderful man and a great footballer, and seemed on his way to become a successful manager too.
We will all miss him greatly.
Rest in peace Gary Speed.