TOMMY Spencer thought that was it for him and football after pulling out of the Hamilton squad on the eve of 2015.
Six rounds into 2016, Spencer has the drive back and is showing why Hamilton coach Michael Bolch was so keen to have him on board.
In the 3-1 win over Broadmeadow on Sunday, Spencer provided the touch to put Kane Goodchild away on goal before Simon Mooney tapped in a rebound for the equaliser.
Spencer then turned his defender inside out before providing the cross for Daniel Bird to score Olympic’s second.
With the likes of Goodchild, Bird, Mooney, Leo Bertos and Rhys Cooper already in Hamilton’s attacking arsenal, Spencer has given Bolch a welcomed selection headache as Olympic look to maintain their hold on top spot.
“Tommy Spencer is very good, and he’s improving,” Bolch said.
“He hadn’t played for 18 months and his fitness is getting better every week. At the moment he’s playing 60, 70 minutes, building into it, but he’s doing really well.
“He’s the most technical player in our group. He’s quality at training and with some of the goals he scores.”
Spencer, who turns 32 this year, was a long-time Sydney first-grade player and a key signing for Olympic last year before the strain of fatherhood, travel and work prompted him to take a break.
The primary school teacher, a multiple premiership-winner with Northern Tigers in Sydney, was grateful for the second chance at Olympic.
“I lasted until two weeks before the comp, but we had a bub and a few issues and unfortunately I had to give it away,” Spencer said. “I thought that was going to be it, to be honest.
“Then I got the drive back to want to play again. I kept in touch with Bolchy through last year and he gave me another opportunity, which was nice.
“It was hard ringing up Bolchy and telling him last year, because he’s a good bloke and I didn’t want to let him down, but I had to look after myself and the family.”
Spencer, though, admitted he has had to put in the hard yards to get back in the mix at Hamilton.
“I was pushing 92 kilos and I’ve dropped about eight to nine kilos since December,” he said. “I knew I had to put in the effort if I wanted to come back again.
“Having the year off, though, probably did me the world of good because I was a bit stale and a bit over it, so it was good to have the year off and freshen up.”
Meanwhile, in the window for roster changes, Hamilton have brought in Andrew Swan, who went out of the squad on an injury waiver to bring in Grant Brown from the Jaffas. Brown now comes in as a direct replacement for Marcus Duncan, who has joined Northcote City in the Victorian NPL.