Looking through some autographs I have saw me come across a Guy Butters one – which had a Spurs crest next to it, so it reminded me of a fella that has a history with both sides.
To be honest my memories of Butters are no that clear, most of the ones, or stories I know of him are from his days after he left Fratton Park but it is surprising what a little research can dig up, along with some insight from Chix – who shared some of his thoughts on him with me, which I also include.
Butters long career – which is still on going, started with Spurs in the 80s. After coming through the ranks he made 30+ performances for the Londoners between 1988 and 1990 – winning 3 U21 caps for England in 89, with a loan to Southend taking place in the early part on 1990. He returned to White Hart Lane, but made a move to Fratton Park on 28th September 1990 for £325,000 – which was a lot of money by our standards then?
Frank Burrows bought Butters to Fratton, and as Chix recalled to me he handed him his Pompey debut in a 3-1 win over Plymouth at Fratton, which if the reported date of his signing is correct came a day after his arrival.
He went on to make 26 league and cup appearances in his first season, the 1990/91 campaign, which could have possibly seen him come up against his former side as we did meet Spurs in the FA cup that season losing 2-1 at Fratton – Spurs went on to lift the cup that season too.
As I say my memories of Butters in a Pompey shirt are virtually nonexistent to be honest, he was here during the good times of the early 90s and the FA cup semi final and play off semi finals defeats, but for the life of me I cannot say if he played in either! So, with these thoughts in mind I will hand this section over to Chix for the time being, these are other insights he gave me: ‘Butters didn’t score his first league goal until 9/11/91 when he scored two in a game v Oxford @ home (we won 2-1.) His first was a far post cross from a Chris Burns header his second was a carbon copy from a Kuhl cross.
‘His first goal was in the game I remember – remember this is Chix talking, not me – the most. A two legged Rumblelows cup tie with Gillingham in August 91 – it was a real ding dong battle and the aggregate scoreline went something like this..
‘1-0, 1-1, 2-1 in the first leg at Fratton
3-1, 4-1, 4-2, 4-3, 5-3 (butters goal) 5-4, 6-4.
‘The only ever goal I remember was when he scored against Peterborough in April 93, although he scored 1 as Pompey won 4-0, the game was memorable as Corporal Guy scored a hat-trick to grab his 100th goal for the club (league & cup) and needed just one more to break Billy Hains record of 43 in a season …. Pompey got a penalty and Warren Aspinall the normal penalty taker handed it to Guy …. but the keeper guessed right and saved it … Manager Jim Smith went absolutely nutty at Aspinall claiming that if he didn’t want to take penalties he should speak to him first rather than giving the ball away to somebody else – a reoccurring theme eh fellas! – … Guy broke Hains record in the next match’.
Thanks to Chix for his recollections, as quoted above, this is where I can step in again and carry on the story? After more than 180 league and cup appearances for Pompey – and loan spell with Oxford in late 94 – Butters made the switch to ambitious Gillingham, who had gone from Third Division strugglers in both a financial and footballing sense to genuine promotion candidates to the First Division, these were in the days prior to the Championship and Leagues One and Two. Future Pompey manager Tony Pulis paid a club record £230,000 for him in November 96, with his signing was one of several fairly big money moves the club were making. You may remember The Rabbi mentioning this move in his recollection of David Hiller some months ago, he said that ‘Butters’ move provided the funds for Hillier to sign from Arsenal’.
Butters enjoyed the good and bad times with the Gills over the best part of 6 years, and although I am not sure if he did play in the game they went through the anguish of play off final defeat to Man City in 99 in the Division Two final, losing on penalties having been 2-0 up with time running out before City forced a dramatic late equaliser, before winning on penalties. The club did eventually go up the following season, beating Wigan 3-2 in the play off final of 99/2000.
He returned to the South Coast in August 2002 when Martin Hinshelwood signed him for Brighton on a free transfer. He got off to the worst possible start with the fans far from convinced by him, then after a poor run of results Hinshelwood was moved upstairs and in came Steve Coppell, who loaned him out to Barnet in March 2003 – his career with the Seagulls looked destined to end in failure?
So disgruntled by Butters’ form some Seagulls fans put him up for sale on auction site eBay, I remember reading about this in the paper at work at the time? nevertheless he has since gone onto become a fans favourite at the Withdean after returning from his loan – Brighton were relegated from the Championship at the end of the 02/03 season – and became a near regular figure after Coppell moved onto Reading in October 03, being replaced by Mark McGhee, in fact I believe that Butters went on to miss only a few games in the 03/04 season to be voted the player of the season, and has apparently been the runner up for player of the season for the past 2 seasons!
Now very much at the veteran stage the 38 year old is still with Brighton, having signed a year long extension to his contract last summer but his chances of staying with Brighton next season appear to be slim as he has fallen out of the 1st team picture recently, but you never know. As recently as a week or so ago he was linked with a loan return to Gillingham but he is believed to be prepared to fight for his place at Brighton, with some fans believing that he deserves a testimonial in the summer, with a venture involving Gillingham and Pompey too has been mooted?
I dare say that Butters will be watching the game tomorrow, with him left in many ways in a ‘win – win’ situation.
PLAY UP POMPEY!