I never knew Garry Flitcroft but I knew people around him. The Press is getting a general grilling right now as the investigation takes evidence from well-known people who’ve had their private lives exposed by the media. Garry Flitcroft, the ex-Man-City and Blackburn player was on the stand today talking about how his affair with a stripper was exposed in the Sunday press ending his marriage. While he accepted his failures, his argument was as a Blackburn player at the time, it was not in the public interest for his life to be exposed as such. He wasn’t high profile, wasn’t a marketing magnet.
I knew his ex-wife’s brother from my days in Sheffield. I worked with him as a temp while studying. I remember the time, I remember the pub and the conversation when he talked about this affair. I remember his quiet, subdued manner and the awkwardness he exhibited. I distinctly remember going to the bar with two drinks and changing the subject. But I still remember the sounds of his deep exhales after telling me. It still quietens me.
The Sunday exposure of his failures ended a marriage with two children. As a player he received constant taunts from the crowds and his father stopped going to the games after never previously missing them. He later committed suicide. When Flitcroft was asked if he believed there was a connection, he said he thought so.
Flitcroft was never a ‘name’ footballer. He would fit nicely on the Obscure Footballers Facebook page. Yet after the story was sold and the press camped outside his door, his kids weren’t able to go to school and his family’s misery was compounded and intensified.
And yet I don’t remember turning to Flitcroft as a beacon anyway. And despite knowing someone close to the story, I didn’t remember it until it came up again. I guess as a media event it just didn’t matter in the long run. I’m pretty sure it didn’t matter to anyone in the short term either. But its all a little late for that.