Leeds had been the career starting point for the young Welsh man, and played a pivotal role in developing him into the man appreciated and loved by most football fans. The first game to be played at Elland Road following his untimely death was always going to be a poignant one.
Outside, tributes had been left at the Billy Bremner statue from the first few hours of the story breaking. A week later, and the tributes were still pouring in. Inside Elland Road, his family had been welcomed to the club and were in the old directors box. As the players came out of the tunnel and the remembrance minute began, the emotion was clearly too much for many of his relatives.
The entire stadium rang to the sound of applause, and a chorus of ‘There’s only one Gary Speed’ soon followed. The match turned out to become a side event, with the crowd vocally active throughout the 90 minutes – indeed, ‘Ohhh Gary, Gary Gary Gary Gary Speed’ echoed heartrendingly around for a good constant 10 minutes. The atmosphere was respectful and emotionally charged, and served as an excellent reminder as to how much football can touch thousands of peoples’ lives. Money and scandal does not come into it on days like today, football for the love of football.
Fittingly, Robert Snodgrass scored a second half brace to seal a 2-0 victory over Millwall on this most sorrowful of days.
The afternoon of May 16th, provided host to a gathering of the world’s top sprinters. The coming together was for naturally, for competition, on an temporary built running track down Manchester’s Deansgate road.
A new world record (my 2nd of the year!) was set in the men’s 200m straight track event, with Tyson Gay romping home in 19.41 seconds – into a headwind. Fantastic to watch and a privilege to photograph!
I was lucky enough to be at Elland Road (home of Leeds United FC) for this promising tie between two of the world’s best rugby league teams. What a tie it turned out to be! With Rhinos taking the early lead, Storm fought back and easily managed the win in the second half.