80. Stuart Spencer

LEGEND – Player Inductee

Melbourne/Clarence, Rover/Half Forward/Back Pocket, 1950-65

122 games, 146 goals, Melbourne, 1950-56
Melbourne best and fairest, 1955 and 1956
Melbourne premierships, 1955 and 1956
Represented Victoria four times and Tasmania 11 times
Credited with 236 senior games for Clarence
Captained the Tasmanian team that beat Victoria for the first time in 1960
All Australian, 1958
Weller Arnold Medal for best player in TFL team, 1958
Lefroy Medal for best Tasmanian player, 1957 and 1960
Coached Clarence, 1957-63
Clarence best and fairest, 1957, 1960 and 1965
William Leitch Medal, 1960
Named as first rover in Melbourne’s ‘Team of the Century’, 2000

Born 3 February 1932, Stuart Spencer was a young football champion in country Victoria before venturing to Melbourne in 1950. In his early years at Melbourne he was being played on a flank and pocket, but the master coach Norm Smith recognised and developed him as a midfielder from the 1954 season onwards.

In this time a genuine champion of Melbourne and the VFL became firmly established. By the end of the 1956 season, Spencer had played 122 VFL games with Melbourne, including the 1955 and 1956 premiership wins. He had also played half a dozen interstate games for the VFL, gained selection in the 1956 All Australian team, and was a dual winner of the Demons’ best and fairest award in a playing group which was amongst the best in Australian football history. His final game for the Demons was considered a best on field performance in the 1956 premiership victory over Collingwood.

There is no doubt that Stuart Spencer could have gone on playing in the VFL for many more years, but for family and business reasons he elected to relocate to Tasmania. Hence, at just twenty-five years of age, Spencer arrived at Clarence Football Club. Any fair analysis can only conclude that he was, like his contemporary Jim Ross, one of the greatest footballers to journey to Tasmania. Having left Melbourne in the prime of his career the brilliant rover and astute reader of the game gave his best years to Tasmania.

Spencer brought with him a professionalism and an indefatigable resolve to succeed which gradually had a discernible impact on those under his tutelage at the Clarence Football Club. Spencer’s coaching eventually led Clarence to their first ever grand final in 1962 and helped create the momentum for greater achievements in subsequent campaigns.

But it was as a player that Stuart Spencer performed with such distinction that he was recognised as the best and fairest player in the Tasmanian Football League (TFL) in 1958 and 1960, represented Tasmania on 11 occasions, and secured a second All Australian blazer after the 1958 Centenary Australian National Carnival in Melbourne.

When Tasmania broke through for a first ever victory over the Big V at York Park in 1960, Spencer took great delight in captaining the victors and was deemed by most observers as the best player afield.

After retiring from playing and coaching he continued to serve football as President of the Melbourne Football Club from 1986 to 1991, following a two-year stint as President of Clarence Football Club.

Stuart Spencer was named first rover in Melbourne’s Team of the Century, announced in 2000. In 2005 he was inducted into the Tasmanian Football Hall of Fame and in 2006 the Australian Football Hall of Fame.