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Spencer in 1897
|Full name||Howard Spencer|
|Date of birth||23 August 1875|
|Place of birth||Edgbaston, England|
|Date of death||14 January 1940(aged 64)|
|Place of death||Sutton Coldfield, England|
|Height||5 ft 10.5 in (1.79 m)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only
Howard Spencer (23 August 1875 – 14 January 1940) was an English professional footballer. Often referred to as the "prince of full-backs" due to his sportsmanship, Spencer joined Aston Villa in 1892 having played for several clubs at amateur level. He made his professional debut in October 1894 at the age of 18 and would go on to become a first-team regular for the club. In his 13 years as a senior player, he helped the side to three First Division championships and three FA Cup victories as well as earning six caps at international level for England.
Spencer played local amateur football for a number of clubs in his local area before joining Football League First Division side Aston Villa from Birchfield Trinity in April 1892 as an amateur, turning professional two years later in June 1894. He made his debut for the club four months later on 13 October 1894 during a 3–1 victory over their West Midlands rivals West Bromwich Albion. At the end of his first season with the club, Spencer played in the 1895 FA Cup Final victory over West Brom at the age of 18 and, the following season, helped Villa to win the First Division title.
He spent 13 years with Villa, taking the 1901–02 season off in order to rest his knee and ankle for twelve months in the hope of recovering from an injury. Over the course of his career, Spencer gained a reputation as a fair player and was well known for his good sportsmanship which earnt him the nickname the "prince of full-backs". He announced his retirement from football at the end of the 1906–07 season but offered to play for the club in future if needed. This offer was taken up by Villa in November 1907 when Spencer played in three league matches, his final appearance for the club coming on 30 November 1907 against Newcastle United. During his time with the club, he made 294 appearances in all competitions, scoring 2 goals. Following his retirement, Spencer became a successful coal merchant and joined the Aston Villa's board of directors in 1909 and served as a director until 1936. He later also served as vice-president of the club.
Spencer made his international debut for England on 29 March 1897 in a 4–0 victory over Wales. He retained his place in the team for their following fixture on 3 April 1897, a 2–1 defeat to Scotland, going on to win a total of six caps. He first captained England in a 4–0 victory over Ireland in February 1903, becoming the first Aston Villa player to captain England in the club's history. His final appearances for England came on 27 March and 1 April 1905 in victories over Wales and Scotland in which he also captained his side.