Whelan was a constant presence in the Chester team throughout
the 1990s accumulating nearly 250 first team appearances
in his nine years at the club. An adaptable defender
it took time for him to fully establish himself in the
starting eleven but he flourished at centre half under
Kevin Ratcliffe until a move to Shrewsbury Town in 1998.
Spencer started his career as a trainee with Liverpool
before joining Chester during the 1989/90 season. He
had the distinction of scoring one of the goals in the
last ever match at Sealand Road, a Midland League fixture
against Tranmere Rovers that finished 3-3.
Chester’s move to Macclesfield in 1990 saw the
Liverpool-born defender make his Football League debut,
as a substitute, in a 2-0 home defeat to Bolton Wanderers.
Spencer started the following season as first choice
right back before losing his place to Roger Preece in
January. Over the next two years he featured intermittently
without ever claiming a regular first team spot.
Following promotion in 1994 the club was thrown into
turmoil with the departure of manager Graham Barrow.
Regular central defenders Mark Came and Colin Greenall
also left the club giving Spencer the chance to settle
at centre-half with new manager Mike Pejic also handing
him the additional responsibility as captain. Unfortunately
a broken leg at Plymouth in September saw Spencer miss
the next six months but when he returned he became a
first team regular under Kevin Ratcliffe.
His appearances attracted the attention of other clubs
and a big money move to Crystal Palace was turned down
but his last couple of years at the Deva Stadium were
blighted with knee problems. When Chester slipped into
administration, in October 1998, an offer of £35,000
from Shrewsbury was accepted even though Spencer hadn’t
played since facing Scarborough in the final game of
the 1997/98 season. His penultimate home game, against
Colchester, saw him score a remarkable goal from his
own half when a long clearance completely evaded the
goalkeeper under pressure from Gary Bennett.
Injury continued to plague his career and the likeable
defender only played 25 games for the Shrews before
he was forced into early retirement. Ironically his
final Football League game for Shrewsbury came at the
Deva Stadium in a goalless draw in March 2000.
Speaking about his former colleague former Blue Chris
Lightfoot recalls that Spencer’s biggest attribute
was his phenomenal pace: “Sometimes he looked
like he was just cruising but he had the ability to
step up through the gears. I remember playing in a friendly
against Manchester United when he was up against Andrei
Kanchelskis who was known for his speed. Spencer gave
him five yards and cruised past him as though he wasn’t
there. He was a lovely lad, a one off. I used to travel
in with him, Eddie Bishop, Iain Jenkins and David Pugh
and we had a proper laugh. I could write a book about
some of the daft things he said and did”.
The club send out their condolences to his family and
friends at this difficult time.