I only heard about Carl’s death on court third hand, after an uneventful tennis match in Warrington and after the funeral had taken place.
I drove back to Liverpool Cricket Club as fast as I could that evening – something was propelling to get there although I wasn’t sure what it was. It was of course a sombre place and I found myself wishing I’d been to the funeral.
Tony the doorman looked in a state of shock: his hair seemed to have grown back overnight which was startling. He let slip he had just turned 47 but he looked a lot older than I felt.
So I did what any self respecting squash player would do and climbed the stairs to go and look at Court 3 where Carl had died. I couldn’t help wonder whether he’d died in the corner trying to boast a shot, or was trying to keep it tight and put a good length on it, or was trying to drop it in the corner which is perhaps where he dropped?
I went back to the bar with the courts echoing around me. The guys in the cricket club look younger and made a lot more noise than usual but they couldn’t eradicate the image of a ball going up and down court, into a corner, off the back wall, boasted off a side wall, lobbed and back down the side wall: a drill going around and around.
Off the back wall, a length, a drop, a length, a boast, a cross court, a length, a boast, a drop, a length, a drop: dropped.
RIP Carl Speare, 20 April 2009.