TALKING SPORT - Gary Speed’s death leaves everyone asking - why?

Gary Speed
Gary Speed

GARY Speed’s death has shocked the sporting world.

And for the millions who admired him without knowing him, they have not been able to fathom any reasoning for his tragic decision from any of the gushing tributes which have poured in from those who knew him well.

Alan Shearer asked why, why, why didn’t he pick up the phone?

It’s a question which, I know, has been asked by close ones of many others who were lured down such dark paths.

Why?

Sadly, too many people just can’t find it in them to ask for help. Maybe because of the stigma. Maybe because they subscribe to a notion that masculinity equals silence and strength. That their problems will eventually go away.

Unfortunately, tragically, being too tough to talk so often feeds their problem, until it strips away their rational thinking.

Sport, like the wider community, has come a long way in the decade since Stan Collymore was asked what he had to be depressed about when he earned £20,000 a week.

But there’s more to do.

And if Speed’s death leads to more help for those who need it, then hopefully it may stand as his greatest legacy.

I WAS watching TV in a bar in Hong Kong early last week when Sam Tomkins’ mug popped up onto the screen.

His selection for the Barbarians made the news over there and, judging by the Google alerts that packed my email inbox when I returned yesterday, headlines around the world.

Some fear union’s wider international appeal may eventually lure him away from Wigan and rugby league.

But having watched him star and score against the Wallabies, it might just the opposite effect. Sam was playing alongside union veterans with more than 1,000 caps between them, yet the skill level was awful.

The ball was passed along the line as slow as a milk float and when the All Blacks star centre Robbie Frauen actually broke the line, he didn’t have the ability to draw the defence and create a try-scoring chance for Sam.

Feeding off scraps, from passes which were thrown with the accuracy and precision of a scatter-gun, the Wigan full-back should be applauded for doing so well.

STEVE Bruce raised a few eyebrows after his old club Latics beat his cashed-up Sunderland 2-1 last Saturday when he told the BBC: “I’ve never walked away from a challenge.”

Hmm...

Wigan Athletic, Crystal Palace, Birmingham... have I left anyone out?

ASIDE from Brucey-bating, what a welcome (and long overdue) three points it was for Latics at Sunderland.

In fairness, they’ve played far better in recent weeks and lost, but it was about time they had a bit of luck.

The league table still doesn’t look good, ahead of a daunting December programme... but it’s a start.