On Sunday morning Police were called to an apartment in Orrell after concerns for the welfare of former Great Britain hooker Terry Newton. Police found Newton dead, apparently he had committed suicide by hanging himself.
Its all a very sad story and its one that quite honestly, you and I know very little about.
For all the people that will have something to say about Terry Newton and the situation he found himself in as he made his fateful decision, only a small handful actually know what was going on in his life.
I don’t know Terry Newton away from what he did on the Rugby League field, and neither do you. So that is what we base our opinions of him on.
When ever a famous person died, things get skewed by what I liked to call the “Industry Of Grief”. You get the news reports, the Facebook groups, the outpouring of false emotions. The mistakes a person made, no matter how big they were, get pushed aside, they are always good people.
24 hours ago Terry Newton was a despised figure, not just within Rugby League, but sport in general. A player that was noted for his toughness, for his aggression and his dirty play.
When he had his head in the game, I rated him as the second best hooker I have seen play for Great Britain behind James Lowes. He was a solid defender and gave decent service from dummy half. He wasn’t the most skilled hooker, but he was a competitor.
Unfortunately for Newton, he will forever be remembered for one thing. He was the first athlete in the world to be detected using Human Growth Hormone, or HGH.
Through a targeted blood testing regime, the Rugby Football League picked up Newtons use of HGH, a drug that is normally used by older athletes to extend their careers.
Terry Newtons name was news all around the world. I saw his text reported on U.S. centric ESPN, he was headline news. The first player to be detected for HGH use, it was a breakthrough the game can truly be proud of.
Newton was banned, his contract with the Wakefield Wildcats was torn up and he was banished from the game.
I have no sympathy for the way Newton was treated during this time. He refused to give up the name of his suppliers, that should always be remembered.
There had been some talk that Newton should be used by the Rugby Football League in a program that would hopefully discourage young players from using performance enhancing drugs. Adrian Morely was a big proponent of this, it was something I found ridiculous, giving a position of trust to someone who had abused the trust of the game, its supporters and its players in the past.
Newton talked about wanting to make a comeback after his ban was over as early as July. However at the point of his career he found himself in, he knew it was a long shot.
That was the last we heard of Terry Newton until Sunday evening, when news filtered through of his suicide.
That was Terry Newton the Rugby League player, that is all the vast majority of people know about him.
Terry Newton the man, we knew almost nothing about. We have read reports about the shame he felt, after being caught, and the way he felt he had let his family down. We also know that he has left behind a shattered family, you have to wonder what effect this will have on his children as they grow up.
At some point as Newton made his late fateful decision, he felt he could no longer take it any more. A life wasted.
In the wake of this, maybe its time that the game took a step back and asked itself “What could we have done better?”. If you read my web site on a regular basis, you know I have no time for drug users or for drug cheats. They make a decision, its up to them to deal with the consequences.
Maybe however, when a player does get banned for drug use, the governing bodies of the game should at least have systems in place to give a player guidance towards rehabilitation.
I don’t believe the game should hold the hand of a drug user, far from it. At the very least though, when a player is banned, the game can provide a player and his manager a list of recommended doctors, psychiatrists and drug rehabilitation programs that can be used to get the player back on the straight and narrow.
I do not however believe a player should be used in any capacity within the can during their ban, be it in education, training or even in an administration capacity within Rugby League.
What ever the case,the sad tale of Terry Newtons life has come to an end. He leaves behind a shattered family, a bewildered supporter base and a game that can’t help but ask questions of itself, even if there are no finite answers to them.
Terry Newton was 31 years old.
There are a number of organizations to help people who are doing it tough. I’ve listed three below that you can contact if you need support. Don’t forget though, family, friends, your local doctor and even your local Hospital can all help you in a time of need.
Do not hesitate to get help if you think you need it.
A well known Rugby League writer, League Freak has established a reputation among supporters of the game for his fearless commentary and unmatched insight. With a reach that spans both sides of the globe, League Freak has produced an independent network that allows him to distribute content to his many thousands of followers. He is the owner and main author of LeagueFreak.com
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