Senior Community Officer Derek Spence retires from Blackpool FC Community Trust after 20 years of service.
Derek Spence is a well-known name amongst the Blackpool community. Derek made his impact on and off the pitch. With over 20 years of dedicated time to Blackpool FC Community Trust.
Derek sat down with Communications Officer, Manvir Rai and discussed his most memorable moments with the Trust.
Derek on getting involved with Blackpool FC Community Trust?
“After retiring as a football player, I had an off-license but I wanted to get back into football as a coach. My former team-mate Craig Madden, who ran Blackpool FC Community Trust (it was called Football in the Community at the time) was leaving his role and he recommended me to apply for the job. I went for the interview and I was given the job.”
“My job was to get the community involved in football – both playing and watching. It was something I fully enjoyed. I always got involved in the community aspect of stuff when I was a professional football player as it was always something that interested me.”
It was hard for Derek to choose a favourite memory from his time with Blackpool FC Community Trust but going to Wembley in 1999 with Collegiate High School stands out. Derek said, “We assembled a girl’s team at Collegiate High School (now known as Aspire Academy) and I realised early on we had a talented bunch. We entered the Football Leagues national tournament, The Girls Under 13’s Adidas Community Cup (now known as the Football League Girls cup) with the final being played at Wembley. The Year 11 Collegiate team were brilliant. I remember the final. Our opposition were a physical and big side but I said to the girls, we are going to win this and if we don’t win comfortably I’ll eat my hat! – and we did win (I lost count when it got to 7-0). The prize for winning the national tournament was a trip to New York. The Trust, Adidas and Collegiate Girls team stayed in New York for a few nights and we met Brazilian legend Pele.”
Blackpool FC Community Trust in the Premier League…
Derek’s time at Blackpool FC Community Trust changed drastically in 2010 when Blackpool FC were promoted to the Premier League. Derek paid tribute to Ian Holloway, who was the manager when the Tangerines were promoted. Derek said, “Ian was a passionate man. I remember watching his first training session at Myerscough College and everything was done with the ball. The football being served up was brilliant. I remember saying to my wife ‘we are going to do well under Ian’. He was brilliant. He was always happy to help out with the community projects. We are both very similar – he has an immense passion for coaching and I have an immense passion for the community.”
From 2013, Derek ran the National Citizen Service (NCS) programme – which is a government funded scheme to help young people (aged 15-18) learn life skills – something Derek is passionate about. “The Trust thought I was the right person to engage with this age group and to inspire them. NCS included doing a two week residential and two weeks of learning about the community whilst delivering a social action project including fund raising events and working with local charities. I have worked with over a 700 young people in the Blackpool area in the last five years. I’ve hopefully given them the confidence to go forward in life and progress in their chosen field because that’s what we aim to do with the NCS programme.”
What’s next for Derek?
“I may be retiring but I need to be busy. I’d like to do some volunteering work and I’ll be going into schools and talking to the children about my experiences, respect and life skills. I want to inspire young people. I’ve been working on an auto-biography, for over four years, which I’m hoping to release next summer.”
Derek has received an over-whelming response since announcing his retirement – something which makes him emotional. Derek said, “I can’t believe the response I am getting. The best thing about all this is I have undoubtedly succeeded helping people fulfil their dreams and that’s what I always wanted to do. I know I’m going to miss the day to day involvement but I need to slow down now, somewhat and take time out for family life.”
“Enjoy what you do. I wanted to make players better and a lot of the young people I coached went on to be professional football players including Ciaran Donnelley, Matthew Blinkhorn, Jamie Burns, Tom Barkuizen as well as many more. A lot of people have told me how much they enjoyed my sessions and we have had a great laugh but don’t get me wrong – it wasn’t easy. We had discipline – we didn’t mess about. I’ve always said treat your parents with respect and work hard. I’ve had 20 years of helping and 20 years of fun and long may it continue.”
I arrived in 1996 as a one-man-band and now I’m leaving a project which has over 30 full-time staff – who are all on the same wave length as myself – community comes first. The Trust are fantastic and they are making a great difference in the community.
“A final word to my wife Lyn, who has worked for the Trust for 19 years and in Lyn, the Trust have got someone who is loyal, trustworthy, intelligent and equally as passionate as I am. Without her, none of this would have been possible.”
— Blackpool FC (@BlackpoolFC) December 21, 2016