Preston North End are saddened to learn that former player Alan Spavin has passed away, aged 74.
Alan made over 450 appearances for the Lilywhites and as a mark of respect, the Club will hold a minute's applause ahead of kick-off at Saturday's home game against Queens Park Rangers.
Our sincere condolences go out to Alan's family and friends.
Alan Spavin 1942 - 2016
by Ian Rigby
Lancaster-born Alan Spavin, who had only just turned 74, attended the Lancaster Royal Grammar School which was then, a rugby playing establishment. However, Alan discovered that he was better with the round ball and joined the Carnforth Rangers junior team, from whom he was to join the groundstaff at Deepdale in 1959.
Graduating through the youth system, Alan made himself known to the Preston public as a member of the Preston North End youth team that reached the 1960 FA youth cup final against Chelsea, alongside the likes of Peter Thompson, Dave Wilson, George Ross and John Barton.
Alan progressed to make his first team league debut in a Division One game against Arsenal, at Deepdale, on 30th April 1960, and he duly scored one of the goals in a 2-0 victory. He was a scheming, ball playing inside-forward with vision.
Although never blessed with natural pace, he more than made up for it with his football brain and he was to become the architect who pulled the strings in midfield for a number of seasons. His North End highlights would have been playing in the 1964 FA Cup final against West Ham United, being captain of the 1970-1971 Third Division championship winning side and being named Player of the Year in 1971.
Alan, affectionately known as ‘Spav’ was awarded a testimonial game in 1971 for his loyalty to the club, with a game against Manchester City. As with a number of past players, Alan was probably appreciated more after he had left the club. He left Preston to go and play in the United States with the Washington Diplomats team, with whom he played for from 1974-1977, (68 appearances) pitting his wits against the likes of Pele who played over there too.
Alan had a spell as head coach of the club in 1977 before returning to England to play for Preston North End once again. Although he only managed a handful of games he was instrumental in helping on the coaching side of things.
Alan’s last game for Preston was at Sunderland on September 2nd 1978 giving him a grand total of 486 appearances with 32 goals for the club. He is held in very high regard by true North Enders. Alan went back to America and opened an indoor soccer centre in Maryland, Florida with former team mate, Alan Kelly.
He had been in ill-health for some time and our condolences go out to his family and friends, both here and in America.