SMITH OF THE STAR - Skills man Spencer set for Owls test

SPENCER Fearn is a busy man. A very busy man.

Even sitting still and doing nothing, he's busy.

He talks at 120mph, throwing out ideas, plans, stories and digressions on digressions.

There's no stopping him and who would want to?

Rotherham to the core, this former teenage tearaway has brought hope to thousands of kids nationwide who otherwise would have none.

And he's made himself a few million quid on the way.

He helps run nine businesses, has owned a football club and might part-own another one in the near future, a band promoted by his Northern Blue Music Management company is about to go mega and he's opening a youth skills training scheme in his home town.

So what do you do in your spare time Spencer? Like there is any.

Former Wickersley Comp schoolboy Spencer and his business partner Andy Wright got together eight years ago and started their Life Skills Solutions training business with 7,000 each.

Now it's worth 6-8 million and they open their eighth training centre next year at Sheffield Wednesday's Hillsborough ground.

In 2009, the company was listed 13th in the Sunday Times top 100 companies to work for and in 2010 was 41st. In 2009 it was also voted best in the country for helping staff develop their potential.

"I have learned a lot on the way and gained a few qualifications - the next one will be a Masters degree," said 35-year-old Spencer who left school with an 'A' in GCSE Business Studies and little else.

Although his parents were in business and Spencer was hardly from the ghetto, his own troubled teenage years help him to understand some of the problems the kids on his courses have.

"When I was 16, I was lost. All I wanted to do was play football and go to the Three Horseshoes and get full of beer," said Spencer who grew up in Wickersley, Rotherham, and now has places in Old Ravenfield and Islington.

"I didn't get into any real trouble but I spent a few nights in the cells for scrapping. All I cared about was football and music.

"When I left school I went to work for my dad's printing company. I also tried door-to-door selling for Kleen-eze. I did all right - I think people felt sorry for me.

"I started four A levels at Wickersley but I only did half a year. I wasn't very keen.

"I worked for the DHSS for 18 months. It almost drove me mad. But I was also selling cars, Kleen-eze door-to-door, doing a bit of a milk round I'd had since I was 12 and working in the Belvedere pub in Moorgate.

When I was 19 I went to work for my step-mother as an auditor, working on behalf of the Training & Enterprise Council. I did that for six years. I met my business partner Andy when I audited him.

"The Government asked us to set up in Peckham because it's one of the toughest areas in the country. We're dealing with kids who are in gangs but we have ways of defusing that. We do construction with the kids and we play football every Thursday. We pick teams with members of each gang in the same side and it works.

"I know it's a cliche but they are like an extended family. We are different from other training providers in that we are a jeans and trainers outfit and that helps the kids settle.

"A lot of people don't have much confidence but if you believe in them they start to believe in themselves.

"I'm particularly keen to help autistic and Aspergers Syndrome sufferers and kids with attention deficit hyperactive disorder. I reckon I have a bit of that myself."

Spencer is a lover of Wednesday and a lover of football in general - he still plays for Wickersley's Mason's Arms on Sundays and he's just stepped in with cash to keep the Rotherham Boys under 15s team going.

And he used to own East Stirlingshire FC.

"It all happened at Christmas time when I was turning 30," said Spencer who has a four-year-old son, Lennon.

"I had a couple of weeks off and I go a bit daft when I'm not working.

"I was thinking about football and thought I'd failed as a kid, but what can I do now?

"So I looked for the worst team in Britain, bottom of the Scottish Third Division. They were about to get kicked out of the league and I thought 'Yeah, that's the one'. I paid 40,000 for the club and invested quite a bit more in it.

"When I left, the former owner wanted to buy it back for the same price but I gave it to the fans for 1. It was a brilliant experience. I wouldn't change a thing."

Spencer first got involved with East Stirling as a sponsor, then took over later.

"There were some fantastic people involved and I made friends for life," he added.

"I could have got my 40,000 back but I wanted the fans to have it."

Sheffield Wednesday take note.Full-time life in football beckons

LEE Strafford resigned as Sheffield Wednesday chairman on the Monday, wealthy Owls fanatic Spencer Fearn sold East Stirlingshire FC two days later.

The world put two and two together and got nine.

At least that's what he was saying until today.

Spencer's links with Sheffield Wednesday are real.

His Life Skills Solutions company is sponsor of the South Stand at Hillsborough and he and the club are planning to open a training centre for young people at the ground early in 2011 offering training for unemployed and troubled kids.

But, despite today's front page news he insists, he was not the leader or part of a group ready to buy the club as was reported early in August.

"I was not involved in any Middle East consortium's bid," said 35-year-old former Sheffield United youth team player Spencer - he loves having his Sheffield United past mentioned.

"But, I will be involved in future if circumstances are right. People have seen me in the directors' box because this company sponsors the South Stand and next year we are hoping to set up our eighth skills centre for young kids at the ground."

Like many people in the city and in football he cannot understand why someone or some group has not snapped up Sheffield Wednesday.

"Lee Strafford had some very good ideas and Wednesday should be one of the biggest clubs in the country," he said.

"I can't understand why someone hasn't already come in and taken over, put money in, and taken the club to where it should be.

"They have the ground and the fan base, it's just waiting to take off.

They have some really good people at the club.

"I'm 35 now and by the time I'm 40 I want to be working in football full-time in whatever capacity that might be."Redtrack tipped for top

TO see Spencer Fearn's latest youth project you need to be at Leeds Festival this weekend.

Or Reading, or you could buy the album, out in a couple of weeks.

Northern Blue Music Management is one of the nine companies Spencer Fearn is involved in and one of their bands is about to make it big.

Redtrack are from Southend and were signed up by Northern Blue and have released three singles under their management.

Their latest single - The Trier/ Pretty Boy - is out on Monday and their debut album, Whole Town's Heart, is out on September 7 and features punk legend Pete Shelley formerly of the Buzzcocks and Hollie-Jay Bowes from Hollyoaks.

"We have a recording studio and a record label," said Spencer.

"We have a band called Redtrack who are up-and-coming and playing at Leeds Festival this weekend. They have also been signed up by Fierce Panda, who signed Keane, Coldplay and Baby Bird.

"They've just released a new single and their album comes out next month. They are a pretty hot tip to be big. Pete Shelley, formerly of the Buzzcocks sang on their album, and Steve Jones from the Sex Pistols is involved too.

"Eric Hall, former football agent and the man about whom Freddie Mercury wrote the song Killer Queen, is also on our team and thinks they're going to be huge.

"It's a cut-throat business but they are starting to make a living out of it. They are really good and a lot of people who know their stuff are raving about them."

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