21 Aug 2009

Debunking Liverpool FC myths: No 6 - David Speedie is one of LFC's worst ever players

It always baffles me when I hear people disparage David Speedie as one of Liverpool’s ‘worst ever players’. He may have been an unfashionable signing, but Speedie was a very effective player for Liverpool in the latter stages of the 1990-91 season, scoring some big goals against the club's biggest rivals.

Eyebrows were raised across football when Kenny Dalglish signed Speedie at the end of January 1991. The press and pundits were unanimous in their skepticism, with the consensus being that the Scotsman was too old to make much of an impact.

It was no surprise that Speedie signed for Liverpool, as perhaps unknown to the majority of fans, there had been several earlier attempts to bring him to the club. Said Speedie:

“I’d known Kenny for years through the Scotland squad and it’s not as if we were strangers. He’d tried to sign me on three previous occasions but Coventry had refused to let me go. But by this stage they’d sacked John Sillett, the manager I worshipped, and I didn’t want to stay. I enjoyed my football wherever I was but the fact that it was Liverpool coming in for me was great.”

Prior to Speedie’s signing, Liverpool had won three, drawn six and lost one of their previous ten games. Points were being dropped in the first division, and it took the club two attempts to beat lowly Brighton in the FA Cup 4th round.

The prattle in the press was that Liverpool was a ‘club in crisis’. Of course, this was typical press exaggeration. Indeed, such a suggestion was laughed away by the Speedie himself :

"If you think this club is in crisis, you've never been to some of the places I have."

Speedie only made 14 appearances for the club, but Liverpool fans old enough to remember seeing the games he played in will agree with me when I state that he made a memorable impact!

Speedie scored on his debut against Manchester United at Old Trafford on the 3rd February 1991. John Barnes whipped in a sweet left wing cross and Speedie, unmarked in the area, powered a volley into the back of the net.

The game finished 1-1 but Speedie’s immediate impact gave the club and the fans a huge boost. Speedie described the United game as a ‘baptism of fire’ and his goal silenced scores of sniping critics.

A debut goal against Man United is enough to make any Liverpool player an instant hero, but six days after the United game, Speedie became a true hero of the Kop with two goals against Everton to help Liverpool to a well-deserved victory. In his own words:

“I’d never been a player that lacked confidence but I remember the Everton game was played at a frenetic pace. I got two goals that day but looking back I should have claimed a hat-trick. Jan Molby was credited with the other goal but it had taken a deflection off me on the way into the goal. These days if the ball hits you, you get the credit.”

Speedie continued: “My first goal came from a free-kick wide on the left from Molby. I’d already seen in training the kind of stuff that he could do, he had great accuracy with his passing, so I looked away, gave Jan the signal and ran into the centre where he picked me out.

“For the second, the ball was cleared and it fell to David Burrows. There were two men on the post but they stayed, Bugsy hit it and I deflected it into the net. The noise was incredible. I’d scored against the enemy and I was well happy.”

Speedie beats Neville Southall to score against Everton

Liverpool played Everton again 8 days later in the FA Cup 5th round. Speedie started the game and had several good chances, but couldn’t break the deadlock as the team was held to a goalless draw.

In the replay, Speedie had to watch from the bench as the two sides played out one of the most exciting and entertaining games in Liverpool’s history – a 4-4 goal-fest at Goodison Park filled with everything that makes English football the most exciting and passionate in the world.

As exciting as the game was, the very next day was a shocking one for Liverpool fans as the footballing world was stunned by the resignation of Kenny Dalglish. King Kenny’s departure took place a mere 17 days after Speedie’s debut, and left the fiery Scot in limbo, basically quashing his Liverpool career before it had even begun.

Speedie was never given a chance by new Liverpool manager Graeme Souness, and his early promise and potential was, for the most part, wasted for the rest of the season. Speedie remembers the period well:

“My old mate Souey took over and we never really got on. His opinion of me was not the same as Kenny’s and the likes of Molby and myself ended up training with the kids at times. I had the choice of being left to rot in the reserves or moving on. I was not in control of my own destiny but what can you do?

“Graeme went on to win the FA Cup the following year but overall I felt that he made mistakes by letting some of the senior players like myself and Peter Beardsley go.”

Despite the friction with Souness, Speedie started his last 4 league games for Liverpool and managed 3 to excellent goals against Tottenham, his old club Chelsea and Leeds United.

The encounter with Leeds United at Elland Road particularly stands out as a real thriller of a game, with Liverpool winning 5-4 in a bonanza of incident, excitement and goals. After missing out on the 4-4 thriller with Everton, at least Speedie got to play in a humdinger of his own!

Speedie’s last game for the club was against Tottenham on the 11th May 1991. As stated above, he scored in that game, finishing his Liverpool career as he started it: scoring goals.

Despite basically being forced out of the club by Graeme Souness, Speedie has no regrets:

“I’d scored six goals in nine starts and three substitute appearances for Liverpool and I’d love to have stayed but football is a game of different opinions and you have to accept that. It’s all water under the bridge now.”

David Speedie should be remembered for his short but telling impact on the club, which could have been even greater if he’d been given a chance by Graeme Souness. Liverpool fans should never forget the goals he scored, especially his important goals against arch-rivals Everton and Manchester United.

In my eyes at least, anyone who scores against our biggest rivals deserves to be remembered!

David Speedie Club Statistics:

Signed - 30 January 1991
Fee - £675000
Bought from - Coventry
Debut - 03 February 1991 (v Manchester United)
First goal - 03 February 1991 (v Manchester United)
Last goal - 11 May 1991 (V Tottenham Hotspur)

Played – 14 (12 league / 2 FA Cup)
Goals – 6 (All in the league)


1. 03/02/91 - Man Utd 1-1 (St) D *
2. 09/02/91 – Everton 3-1 (St) W **
3. 17/02/91 – Everton (FA) 0-0 (St) D
4. 23/02/91 – Luton 1-3 (Sub) L

5. 27/02/91 – Everton (FA) 0-1 (Sub) L
6. 03/03/91 – Arsenal 0-1 (Sub) L
7. 09/03/91 - Man City 3-0 (St) W
8. 16/03/91 – Sunderland 2-1 (St) W

9. 01/04/91 – Southampton 0-1 (Sub) L
10. 09/04/91 – Coventry 1-1 (Sub) D
11. 13/04/91 - Leeds United 5-4 (St) W *
12. 04/05/91 – Chelsea 2-4 (St) L *

13. 06/05/91 - Nottm Forest 1-2 (St) L
14. 11/05/91 – Tottenham 2-0 (St) W *

Won (W) – 5
Lost (L) - 6
Drawn (D) – 3
Starts (St) - 9
Substitute (Sub) - 3
* = Goal scored


  1. There is no myth to be debunked, everyone knows how good a signing Speedie was and I have hardly heard a disparaging word about him.

    You really are scraping the bottom of the barrel if you are having to make up myths to debunk. You need to do better than this Jaimie, don't you have a story about how Rafa is to blame for famine in Africa because he sold Alonso?

  2. Your experience is clearly different to mine - in the majority of cases, whenever I speak to Liverpool fans they always say Speedie was crap. 

    Anyway, it's my site so I can write about what I like.  if you don't like it, don't visit 8-)

    PS.  The famine in Africa story is old news; I'm working on an article about how Rafa is to blame for the war in Iraq.

  3. Anecdotal evidence is always the easiest to come across, especially when in need of some.

  4. Jamie, a very good article, I was really pleased when Speedie signed and loved that he got the goal against utd.  Souness was too quick to dispense with experience and we became mediocre.

    I wondered if you had one of your unique insights into who keeps starting the Rafa has left LFC rumours.  He seems to be an easy target for the bookies and I'm not sure why.  Cue lots of internet coverage of how everyone's mate's mum is a cleaner at Melwood or Anfield and said its true......

    Anyway, my own theory is that there are Utd fans working for Paddy power and they are trying to destabilise the club... but in reality, I guess someone saw Rafa leave Melwood that morning while training was still going on (to oversee the new defender deal??) and it snowballed from there.  Be interesting to know what others think about this too.

  5. Hey Matt.  I was also happy when Speedie signed, but perhaps that had more to do with the fact that he was a fellow Scot rather than his playing ability ;)

    I think you're right about rival fans and Paddy Power; it seems very likely that people are trying to destabilise the club.  Rafa did allagedly storm out of Melwood on Wednesday morning but that's probably just exaggeration.

    I have a couple of reliable sources and at the time the rumour mill was in overdrive they confirmed that nothing was actually going on, hence me not posting anything about it at the time.

    And my insights on LFC are hardly unique, and I don't see them that way - I'm sure many people have the same views as me.

  6. I'd love to know in what context he stormed out.  It seems a little odd.  Could it be that he just left unexpectedly and in a hurry?  Maybe there was a family issue?

    I know there is a strong pro-Utd presence on some of the Irish television coverage of the CL and the prem lge, so it wouldn't surprise me that these people would try any underhand tactic..... A bit like Rob Beasley from NOTW (yuk, I said it) who tried to run with a story that Rafa had re-ignited his conflict with the owners.... on the morning we were to play Chelski.  Turns out he had taken a few quotes from a longer interview and twisted the story.  Class guy.

  7. I have to admit i wasn't a huge fan of Speedie. I always felt he was a panic buy and that there was more going on behind the scenes at the club. It didn't make sense to me.. Aldo was let go, Beardsley wasn't really getting a look in, and both of those players i loved to watch play for the Reds. Why on earth did we go for granpa Speedie didn't make sense to me, but hey i was younger then, but still can't see the wisdom in it along with, and dare i mention the Jimmy Carter signing again?? Not doubting Speedies record, but why sell Aldo, why not play Beardsley? Then Souness comes along and sells Beardo for 1 million..Crazy, treason, even a heresy some might say...

  8. Hi Patricia - thanks for the kind words about the site, and thanks for reading :)

  9. Hey TMAC - I totally agree with you re the Aldo/Beardsley situation.  I was gutted beyond belief when we sold Aldo; it didn't make any sense to me then and it doesn't now.  It's kind of like selling Torres now because, say, Robbie Fowler returned to the club (Fowler in his prime I mean). 

    The marginalisation of Beardsley toward the end of Dalglish's reign was also hard to take.  Along with John Barnes, Beardsley was undoubtedly one of Liverpool's most influential players and I loved watching him play.  There have been rumours of a conflict (at the time) between Dalglish and Beardsley, though they've never been verified.

    Jimmy Carter was a terrible signing but Souness arguably made even worse signings that that; Paul Stewart for example.

    It's kind of (tragically) ironic how two players who played such a massive part in Liverpool's 70s and 80s success ultimately played a huge part in the club's decline in the 90s.