|Date Of Birth:||12-Aug-1965|
|Place Of Birth:||Sion Mills, Co Tyrone|
|Debut:||19-Aug-84 Leinster Cup Dunleary C|
Jonathan Speake (born: 12 August 1965, Sion Mills, Co. Tyrone) may be a living legend in the city of Derry, but it was in fact at Dundalk where the prolific forward began his League of Ireland career.
Capped by Northern Ireland at underage level, he had been on the books of Limavady United before signing with Ballymena United in 1982. He played a pivotal role for the Sky Blues as they lifted the Irish Cup following a 4-1 win over Carrick Rangers at Windsor Park in 1984 – a match in which Speak scored Ballymena’s fourth goal.
He was soon gathering interest from clubs south of the border and was close to signing for Shamrock Rovers, but ended up joining Tommy Connolly’s Dundalk instead.
Speak, still a teenager at this point, struggled throughout his solitary season at Oriel Park however, scoring just two goals (both against Galway United in October 1984) in his 12 league outings as Dundalk finished in a mediocre eighth position.
He immediately made a return to Ballymena the following campaign and was the club’s top goalscorer in both the 1985/86 and 1986/87 seasons.
He thereafter returned to League of Ireland football with Derry City and was the league’s top scorer with 24 goals (including six in one match against Sligo Rovers) in his debut campaign with the Candystripes – only Glen Crowe, Jason Byrne and Richie Towell have scored more in a single season since the league was split into two divisions in 1985.
In what was truly a golden era for Derry, the club reached the 1988 FAI Cup final only to lose out narrowly to Speak’s former club, Dundalk. Now managed by the great Jim McLaughlin, Derry became the only club in history to win the domestic treble of League Championship, FAI Cup and League Cup when they did so the following season.
After playing over 150 league matches, Speak departed the club after falling out of favour with new manager Roy Coyle (ex-Linfield) in 1992. Speak then returned to Ballymena for a third spell and maintained an impressive goalscoring record but by his own admission, had grown disillusioned with the game at this stage. He rekindled his love though, following a £14,000 transfer to Finn Harps in 1994.
He spent the best part of a decade in Ballybofey and was Harps’ top scorer with 17 goals as they won promotion to the Premier Division in 1996. He also helped the club reach the 1999 FAI Cup final where they unfortunately lost out to Bray Wanderers after a second replay.
He became player-manager of Harps during the 2000/01 season with the club cut adrift at the foot of the Premier Division table. Despite going on an impressive 14-match unbeaten run under Speak’s management, Harps were still relegated at the end of that campaign. They almost went straight back up the following year but cruelly lost out to Longford Town on penalties in a promotion/relegation play-off.
He departed the club and hung up his boots for good in 2003 after playing over 150 league matches in Harps colours. He managed Omagh Town for a time in 2004 and also worked as a postman following his retirement from football. These days, Speak spends his time working as a bus driver.
Appearances total 18 (3 gls); of which League 12 (2)