Lewis Spence almost became a postman at one stage in his career – so he’s grateful for the chance to showcase his skills in the EFL with Scunthorpe United.
The former Dundee, Dunfermline and Rangers midfielder moved south over the summer after a spell with Ross County. He’s gone right into regular plans with The Iron, starting in each of their four League Two games so far this term.
It’s a challenge Spence was eager to take on after working his way up the SPFL ladder. The 24-year-old has opened up on his move to the EFL and his most recent spell in Scotland with Ross County.
“I’ve enjoyed it, I’ve played almost every minute,” Spence told NTOF. “That’s what you want as a player and the boys and management have made me feel really welcome so I’m enjoying it so far.
“It was done through my agent, there was some interest when I was at Ross County around a year ago. Obviously with the virus everything took a bit longer but I’m delighted to be here now. Ross County are a great club with great facilities and all the boys were close together.
“We won a league and a cup with them which was really good. I got injured in the summer but when I got back I was playing. With what happened in March, my time was just up there. There were talks and stuff but I think they just wanted to go with their own ideas and I wish them all the best this season.
“I enjoyed it up there. It is a bit isolated but we all bonded very well and the facilities are perhaps one of the best in Scotland. I know it’s not for everyone but I really enjoyed it. It’s a really good club, it’s like a wee family up there and hopefully they can push into that top six.
“I had it in my head that I wanted to come down to England. I felt like my time was up in Scotland, I’m 24, and I wanted to come down here and see what I could do. There are more leagues, more teams and I wanted a new challenge.
“It’s a good platform and it’s a good league this year. You never know, if you can have a good season you can go up the leagues with better teams and that’s what I’m after.”
Getting games early
There was once a stage in Spence’s career when he was on the books at Rangers as a promising prospect. Despite looking destined for good things with Rangers, he opted to move for senior football in his teens.
A switch to Dunfermline got him playing men’s football at 17 instead of the academy stuff he was bound for at Rangers. It’s lead to all the highs and lows in his career as he reflected on his time in Scotland as a whole.
“I left Rangers and went to Dunfermline,” Spence explained. “At 16 I thought that was the best thing for me. My dad said to me you can be going here and playing first-team football at 17 or 18 instead of playing U20s football.
“I was training with senior players at a big club like Dunfermline. Neill McCann was a coach and he did a lot for me, Jim Jefferies and John Potter as well. That put me in good stead. It took a bit of a blip when Allan Johnston came in. I don’t really know what happened, he just didn’t fancy me.
“I got loaned out to Brechin and I got a lifeline. I was going to go part-time with Brechin but then Neill McCann got the Dundee job and took me there. It was a step up from not playing for a couple of years to the Premiership. But that’s where I wanted to be.
“Playing against the best teams like Celtic or Rangers was good for me. I know I can play at that level. Jim McIntyre came in and he just wanted to bring his own players in. I then went to Ross County and that was a good move for me because I went there in January and we went on to win a league and cup.
“Overall, my time in Scotland has been good. I’ve did it the hard way leaving Rangers at 16 to go and play against teams like Dumbarton and Stranraer before going to the Championship and Premiership. That’s why I felt it was a good time to come to England and try and work my way up the ladder.”
As already mentioned, Spence feels he owes a lot to Rangers legend and former Dundee man McCann. His spell as Dens Park boss perhaps didn’t go the way he wanted it, but he certainly left an impression on Spence.
The Scunthorpe midfielder reckons that McCann was doing all the right things in Tayside as he thanked his former boss for saving him from part-time football.
“I was playing at Dunfermline every year, got Young Player of the Year, but the next manager never really fancied me,” said Spence. “I thought I’d get another Championship club but it wasn’t that easy, so I was looking to apply to be a postman and things like that.
“That’s why I can’t thank Neill McCann enough because I don’t know where I’d be if I’d gone part-time. He’s the best manager I’ve worked with. He is a great manager, look at the players he’s brought through.
“Glen Kamara who’s flying at Rangers and the best player I’ve played with, Jack Hendry went to Celtic, they had a falling out but Scott Bain went to Celtic. That was in a short time period that he managed to make those players better and signed with the biggest teams in Scotland.
“He was just a bit unlucky. We were missing a striker at the time and having someone who could put the ball in the net would have helped him. You don’t get a lot of time in football and I was gutted when he was sacked. He’s a good manager and I hope he gets back in the game but he’s really good at the speaking side of the game. He’s a great guy.”
The season ahead
Now all of Spence’s attention turns to Scunthorpe, where he is hoping to make a name for himself down south. Whilst not favourites for the League Two title, he believes it’s anyone’s crown if a team wants it enough.
“I think it’s a young squad,” added Spence. “I think we need to take it game by game, the old cliché. But we are quietly confident we can do something good this year.
“We’ve started ok this year and if we stick together We’ve got good players to come back and experienced players as well so it’s a long season. It’ll be lots of up and downs.
“The favourites at the start were Bolton and Salford but they have had poor starts so I think it could be anyone’s league. We’ll be quietly in there so we will see how it goes.”