Jay Spearing was captain of Liverpool's u-18 team which won the second of their successive FA Youth Cups in 2007 and also a key player in the side that won the FA Premier Reserve League title in 2007/08. Spearing finally made his long-awaited debut for Liverpool's first team in the Champions League group match away to PSV Eindhoven 9 December 2008. Another equally brief but impressive substitute appearance came in the same competition against Real Madrid at Anfield three months later. Spearing came on for captain Steven Gerrard with Liverpool already comfortably ahead 3-0 on the night and 4-0 on aggregate. The little midfielder impressed the crowd with his confidence against the famous Spanish club and although he didn't play for the first team again in 2008/09 it was hardly a surprise when in the middle of July 2009 it was announced that he had agreed a new deal to extend his contract at Anfield.
Spearing started Liverpool's League Cup ties at Leeds and Arsenal as well as at Sunderland in the 'beach-ball' match and made two substitute appearances against Portsmouth and Wolves either side of Christmas but those were his only first-team appearances in 2009/10. On 23 March 2010 he was loaned out to Championship club Leicester City until the end of the season. Spearing played eight times for the Foxes as they reached the play-offs to face Cardiff. The return leg in Wales went to extra-time but Leicester were eventually beaten 4-3 on penalties. The 2010/11 season was something of a breakthrough for Spearing who made 16 starts and four substitute appearances for Liverpool. He gained valuable experience, especially in the Europa League competition, in which he figured eight times. Lucas Leiva's unfortunate injury opened the doors for Spearing in 2011/12 and he was picked to start in 24 matches, eight more than in the previous season. The difference in quality between him and Lucas was though painfully obvious and Spearing became somewhat of a target for the boo-boys. Spearing finally got his hands on a senior winners' medal after being a member of the squad that beat Cardiff City at Wembley in the League Cup final. Following Rodgers' signings of Nuri Sahin (loan) and Joe Allen and the emergence of Jonjo Shelvey it was soon apparent there was little possibility that Spearing would find a place in the first team so in August 2012 he joined Bolton Wanderers in the Championship on a season-long loan.
Spearing's loan-spell with Bolton was successful. He played in thirty-seven matches in The Championship, scoring twice; and he received a Player of the Season award from the Bolton Wanderers Supporters' Association as well as being honoured in the same way by the club itself. Unsurprisingly ... because his loan-spell with them had been so successful ... Bolton reached agreement with Liverpool for Spearing to make a permanent move and he signed a four-tear contract with Wanderers during the second week of August 2013.
The midfielder played in 97% of Bolton's league matches in 2013/14, scoring against Queens Park Rangers and Blackburn Rovers. He only missed the opening day draw at Burnley. He also represented the Trotters in their F.A. Cup defeat by Cardiff City in January. Jay was awarded the captaincy when Zat Knight was unavailable or unselected for the first team, which turned out to be for most of the season. He retained this role even when Knight came back into the team. When Knight was released at the end of the season the armband passed to Spearing on a permanent basis, but halfway through 2014/15 he was loaned to Blackburn Rovers. He returned to Bolton for 2015/16, when he was sent off on the opening day of the season for two bookable offences. Although Bolton finished bottom of the league he was still not a regular in the side and made only eighteen starts. He was named substitute for sixteen games but only came off the bench for four of them but started off the 2016/17 in League One as captain. Bolton were promoted at the first attempt but he was released at the end of his contract and in October 2017 joined Blackpool of League One on a short term deal.
After helping Blackpool consolidate in their first season back in League One after promotion, he agreed a new two year contract after manager Gary Bowyer described him as "a terrific influence on the team". He was a virtual ever present in 2018-19 and also scored six goals, as well as preparing for life after playing by completing his UEFA B coaching badge and doing some media work. At the end of 2019/20 Spearing declined the offer of a new contract saying he felt it was time to move on. In September he agreed to drop down to League Two but move to a club closer to home and signed a two year deal with Tranmere Rovers. He was named player of the season in 2020/21 as they reached the EFL Trophy final where they lost 1-0 to Sunderland and also missed out on promotion, losing the play offs semi final to Morecambe. Spearing was released by Tranmere at the end of 2021/22 and returned to Liverpool as an academy coach, with him also expected to play some under 21 games as an overage player to help others develop.