Big Interview: Brenda Spencer - part two

Brenda Spencer receives the email with Wigan Athletic's first Premiership fixtures
Brenda Spencer receives the email with Wigan Athletic's first Premiership fixtures
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IN the second part of our big interview with Brenda Spencer, the former Wigan Athletic chief executive speaks about the years after promotion to the Premier League, which included her retirement - and of course the FA Cup victory at Wembley

On a bright June morning in 2005, Brenda Spencer is sitting in her office at the JJB Stadium with media man Matt McCann to her left and Sky Sports cameras in front of her.

This was the moment she had been waiting for, Wigan Athletic were about to receive their inaugural Premier League fixture list and find out who the club’s first ever top-flight opponents would be.

“The day we had the first fixtures for the Premier League when we got Chelsea at home was mind-blowing,” she recalled.

“I sat out there for that game and I just cried and I did that for weeks because I couldn’t believe these teams that were coming to the JJB, as it was then.

“Manchester United walking out and Chelsea and Arsenal and then going to their grounds as well, that first season was unbelievable.”

Brenda has many great memories of managers such as Paul Jewell and Steve Bruce, who joined the club from Birmingham City for his second spell as manager in November 2007.

However, one of the stand-out memories was perhaps the day the Geordie was set to be unveiled as the new manager.

A press conference was called and the world’s media gathered at the JJB but things didn’t quite go to plan.

“We had agreed everything but I got a phone call from (Birmingham chief executive) Karren Brady saying we couldn’t do it,” said Brenda.

There had been a problem with a fee needed for Bruce’s image rights and, with all the press sat around waiting, a red-faced Brenda had to explain that the new manager was not going to be making an appearance.

After Bruce had come in and helped guide Latics to two well-placed league finishes, he departed for Sunderland and former player Roberto Martinez was head-hunted from Swansea for the job.

A press conference was called to unveil their new man but, almost unbelievably, that also failed to go ahead despite the media arriving at the club’s home which, by then, had been re-named the DW Stadium.

“I just thought ‘what am I going to do?’” Brenda recalled, this time with laughter.

“Everything was agreed and then the morning of the press conference we got this phone call saying he can’t come because we had this problem with (assistant) Graeme Jones.

“I just walked in and said, c’est la vie, what will be will be, I’ve been here before guys.

“Little things like that come back and I just wonder how I coped. I remember ringing Dave and his only reply was: ‘No you sort it out!’”

FOR THE FULL PART TWO OF THE BIG INTERVIEW WITH BRENDA SPENCER, INCLUDING MEMORIES OF PLAYERS, HER RETIREMENT, WINNING THE FA CUP AND HER THOUGHTS ON DAVE WHELAN, SEE THIS WEEK’S WIGAN OBSERVER.