AddThis SmartLayers

Super-sub editor comes off bar’s back bench to save day

A weekly newspaper editor is “flying the flag” for his local non-league football hotshots in a role for which Liverpool super sub David Fairclough would have been proud.

Thurrock Enquirer newsroom chief Neil Speight has been likened to Anfield’s golden boy striker of the 1970s and 80s who regularly made a game-changing impression when he came off the bench.

This season Neil, secretary of Ryman Premier side East Thurrock United for the last five years, has already acted as an emergency stretcher bearer for the Essex team.

Then last week he was pulled out of the bar, where he was enjoying a half-time pint, to “run the line” as an assistant referee, following an injury to one of the match officials.

Despite not taking charge of a game since the 1990s, the 56-year-old qualified referee grabbed a flag and headed out for the second half.

He said: “I’m not sure our manager John Coventry was convinced it was a good idea. You should have seen the look on his face when the ref, Alan Dale, was briefing him and the Wingate team.

“Perhaps he thought I wouldn’t keep up with play which I can’t blame him for I suppose. After all I was dragged out of the bar and away from my pint to do it.

“He told the lads to defend so deep I wouldn’t have to make any offside decisions.”

Neil, who managed Tilbury in the Ryman League Division One North until he was sacked in 2004, says he’s now expecting a call from the club coach to fill a full-back berth for the club.

“Seriously though, I was just glad to be able to help and that we got away with completing the game,” added Neil, who started his career as trainee reporter with the South Yorkshire Times and edited the rival Thurrock Gazette until 2009 before taking up the editorship of the 70,000 free Enquirer series.


You can follow all replies to this entry through the comments feed.
  • August 29, 2014 at 9:02 am

    This is all very well but that was never offside Speighty. Diabolical decision.

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(0)
  • September 1, 2014 at 7:21 pm

    The things he will do to keep up his `on-going, at this point in time, profile’ – as `they’ say!!

    What next, Neil, hopefully not a streak . . .

    All the very best, mate; very glad you are still making an impression wherever you go! The newspaper world would be a lot poorer without your input.

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(0)
  • September 2, 2014 at 1:24 pm

    Speighty…a martyr to the end.
    But he seems to be slowing down now. Last time I spoke to him he said he marked out the pitch, put up the nets, played, ran the line, acted as physio, organised the half time oranges and helped out the ref…all in the same game!
    But I have to say Speighty, you are an absolute legend!!!

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(0)