David Speedie

A coal miner before breaking into league football with Barnsley, David Speedie brought the grit and resilience of the pit to the playing field.

Small for a striker – 5ft 7in – he was blessed with great stamina, delicate touch, a fierce shot in either foot and an extraordinary leap that enabled him even to out-jump the postilion defenders of the 1980s.

Bought from Darlington for £80,000 by John Neal in May 1982 he eventually made his debut at home to Oldham the following September and exploded on the scene with two goals. That rapidly became six in four games and fans instantly warmed to his rare combination of anger and artistry.

Speedie’s passion for the club played a huge role in staving off relegation to the third tier that season. Though he was suspended (not for the last time) for the crucial win at Bolton in May 1983, he celebrated Clive Walker’s lifeline goal by running down the stand and kissing Chelsea’s club secretary.

Speedie really found lift-off alongside newly-arrived striker Kerry Dixon and clever winger Pat Nevin, a devastating trio that drove the Blues to promotion in 1984 and to successive sixth-place finishes in Division One. In 1984/85 he and Dixon hit a remarkable 52 goals between them.

In that golden period he was capped by Scotland, the country of his birth, and, in the overlooked Full Members Cup final, struck the first hat-trick at Wembley since Geoff Hurst in 1966.

A change of manager in 1986 meant a change of fortunes too and Speedie’s valedictory to the Shed would be a dipping volley in a 3-3 draw with Liverpool. The pocket battleship moved to Coventry in summer 1987.

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