FOOTBALL’S COMING HOME: Superfan Spenny set to move into Wisbech Town’s stadium
SUPERFAN Spenny Larham hasn’t missed a Wisbech Town home game this century. He is the football club’s website and programme editor as well as their assistant secretary.
But the 41-year-old has now taken his worship of the Ridgeons Premier Division outfit to a new level - BY MOVING INTO THE STADIUM.
The fanatical clubman - a loyal Wisbech supporter for the last 16 years - is set to switch his town centre home for a newly-renovated one-bedroom flat at the Elgood’s Fenland Stadium.
“My second home is about to become my only home,” said Spenny, who will move in to his new pitch-side flat over the next fortnight.
“It hasn’t really crossed my mind that I’ll be here all the time because I’m frequently at the club anyway with games, events and training sessions.
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“It will be very different to my place at the moment. I know that my rent will be going to a very good cause and although it’s a bit smaller inside I’ve certainly got a bigger back garden!”
The modest flat, which sits next to the club’s entrance and just yards from the touchline, is tagged onto the side of the clubhouse.
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It was originally built as a security hut but it has now been transformed to house the Fenmen’s most dedicated fan.
“When I heard it was going to be a flat I thought I’d be the number one suspect to move in,” said self-employed computer technician Spenny. “I’ve had so many people asking to be invited to the flat warming.
“I’ll be able to see the football from my bedroom window but the weather will have to be pretty bad to keep me off the touchline.”
Spenny has cheered the Fenmen on in hundreds of games - celebrating the joy of promotion and experiencing the heartbreak of relegation. But he was not always a football fan.
“The funny thing is I never liked football,” he said. “I’d never watched a full game until 1990 when I watched the FA Cup final.
“I moved to Wisbech in 1991 and my father-in-law got me into it. The first Wisbech game I went to was the FA Cup Fourth Qualifying Round replay against Billericay Town in 1995.
“There were 1,200 people there and the game had everything. We had a man sent off but we won 2-0 with goals from Peter Munns and Dave Massingham.
“It was a brilliant cup tie and after that, I was hooked.”
Within four years, Spenny had started following Wisbech across the region. In 1997, a scintillating cup run saw Wisbech host Bristol Rovers in the FA Cup Second Round.
Spenny said: “My eldest daughter Erin was due to be born on the Monday after the Bristol Rovers game. I was a bit concerned that things would - excuse the pun - kick-off a bit early and that I would miss the big match. Luckily, she was late.
“Then in 2001, whilst awaiting the birth of my youngest daughter Kiera, who wasn’t exactly in a hurry to put in an appearance, I popped into Fenland Park on the way home from the hospital and caught the second half of a reserves game.
“If nothing else, it helped take my mind off what was going on. Thankfully, she arrived a couple of days later.”
This season is Spenny’s eighth as programme editor. Six years ago he created the club’s official website and for the last decade he has been recording their games with his video camera - uploading highlights to YouTube.
He said: “One of the reasons I started filming is that all football league clubs have tons of cameras at every single game, recording every goal that’s scored for posterity.
“Just because we are Wisbech supporters why shouldn’t we have that? Why should non-league fans not get to see the goals their team have scored again?
“The further up the football league pyramid you go the less in touch players are with the normal fans. Wayne Rooney earns more in 10 minutes than I do in a year.
“At this level of football you can really get involved in a club and a team. I’m passionate about the town of Wisbech and I’m passionate about the football club.”
The superfan’s passion once saw him attend more than 60 Wisbech games in a single season, following not just the first team but the reserves and the under-18s.
He has missed just one away game since 2005 - taking holidays in Yarmouth to enable him to “sneak off” to watch his beloved Fenmen. His heavy metal band even holds its rehearsals in the clubhouse.
“I’ve been here for 16 years which is longer than the players will have been. That’s the thing about football - players will move on but the only people who are always there are the supporters.
“There is a possibility I could miss a game in March as I might go to New York, which is a legitimate excuse I think.”
Spenny watched Wisbech win their first trophy in 16 years last season, as they triumphed in the Ridgeons League Challenge Cup.
“It’s very easy to support a team that’s winning,” he said. “But it’s doing it in the bad times that counts. It’s supporting them through thick and thin - and there’s certainly been a lot of thin.
“Last season was the first time I had ever seen us win anything and that was obviously a very memorable day.
“In terms of other games that stick in my mind, I can’t look past Gloucester City in the FA Cup Fourth Qualifying Round replay in 1997.
“We were two-nil down, we’d had a man sent off and we’d missed a penalty. We came back to win 3-2 and the place erupted.
“The worst game that I ever had the misfortune of supporting Wisbech in was the last game at our old ground Fenland Park.
“We lost 6-1 to Dereham and emotions were running very high. The aim was to send people away from the ground happy but then we got annihilated.”
Spenny will resume his familiar position on the sidelines at the Elgood’s Fenland Stadium tomorrow as the Fenmen face Wroxham in the FA Cup First Qualifying Round. But he will soon become an even more permanent fixture at the ground.
The club’s vice-chairman Dave ‘Snips’ Parsons said: “Spenny’s the ideal man to be living here - he’s a built-in night watchman.
“I wanted someone in the flat who had the club at heart and he was really the only man for the place.”