Wednesday, 13 October 2010
163 Paul Butler
Position : Centre half
Played : 1990-91 to 1995-6
Appearances : 158
Goals : 10
Paul was a 17-year old appropriated by Jeff Lee from Bradford's YTS scheme.
Paul is probably the most undeservedly maligned player in this survey because he chose to go to Bury when his last contract with us expired. That shouldn't obscure the fact that he was one half of our best ever defensive partnership and actually gave us longer service than the untouchable Alan Reeves. He didn't get off to a great start looking very clumsy particularly in the game (I think it was against Scunthorpe in the FA Cup) where he came on as sub and got himself injured while conceding a penalty inside a minute. He also got a ludicrous outing as a centre forward against Coventry in the League Cup with predictably barren results.
Therefore when he next got a chance, following injuries to Tony Brown and Alex Jones , away at Scarborough in autumn 1991 people were fearing the worst. Instead he never put a foot wrong and played one killer ball out of defence that had jaws dropping. Thereafter he was an automatic first team choice for the next 5 years prompting Alex Jones's departure for Motherwell. He was unbeatable in the air , intimidating and decisive on the ground and could play a bit of football when required. He was under-rated while he played with Reevesy but stepped up to the plate when the latter left, holding the defence together with lesser partners. I would credit him with the major part in keeping us out of trouble in the Docherty era.
Graham Barrow couldn't persuade him to stay in May 1996 and a £150,000 fee with sell-on clauses was agreed with newly-promoted Bury, an unforgivable sin in many eyes. I think Paul's personality played a part too; he wasn't a badge-kisser but a cool, intelligent (even cynical) young man who knew his own worth. He was an instant success at Bury winning another promotion in his first season and helping them stay up the next. Then Sunderland who had been watching him whilst still at Dale bought him for £1 million in August 1998 (giving us a useful cash boost) and he missed only two games as they won promotion to the Premiership. However his season was marred by an awful tackle on Gifton Noel-Williams of Watford who is still affected by the injury today. Paul's career took a downturn after his sole appearance for Eire (through his wife) in 2000 where he was monstered by the Czech striker Jan Koller and subbed at half time. He lost his place in the Sunderland side and eventually went on loan to Wolves. They were impressed enough to pay £1 million for him and he earned himself another crack at the Premiership as club captain of their play-off winning side in 2003. Wolves were relegated after one season and Paul moved to also-relegated Leeds who made him captain. Paul had a couple of good years there helping them to steady the ship but he later fell out with Dennis Wise who demoted him from captain and sent him out on loan to Milton Keynes Dons in time to be blitzed with his team-mates at Spotland in January 2007. Paid off by Leeds he didn't last long down south and moved on to Chester where he again fell victim to a Dale blitz in 2008 , responding to Dale taunts by making money-rubbing gestures behind his back. . After an off-field incident Paul fell out of favour there and was accused by their fans of deliberately playing badly to get another pay-out. In Feb 2009 with the side heading for relegation he agreed a deal which effectively ended his playing career. In August 2010 he bcame chief scout for Oldham.