Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Guy Butters was the toast of the Fratton End

Welcome to our series in which ROGER HOLMES and LEIGH EDWARDS catch up with Pompey stars of yesteryear. This week: Guy Butters

I was born in Hillingdon and started to play football at my junior school in Hayes. I always played on the left wing and as I was the only left-footer in the school I played for the year above my age.As time went on I dropped back to the centre of midfield and was signed as an associate schoolboy by Tottenham Hotspur.

Then something very fortunate happened that was probably the reason I made it in the professional game. During the school holidays I went to watch Tottenham reserves play Arsenal (the team I supported) and they were a couple of players short so I was asked if I would play at centre-half.

I was up against Paul Mariner and I did quite well and I think that made the club’s mind up to take me on full-time.I’m sure that had I not moved back into defence I would not have progressed but I think the fact that I played in midfield also helped me as a defender because in the centre of the park you learn where to be on the pitch.

I made my Spurs debut against Wimbledon on 12 November 1988. The match was marred by Vinnie Jones’ tackle on Gary Stevens and I came on as substitute to take Gary’s place.I later became a team-mate of his down at Fratton Park. I stayed in the team and never missed a match all season and we finished sixth in the old First Division.

It was wonderful playing for Spurs and in truth not that difficult. We had Paul Walsh, Gary Lineker and Chris Waddle up front and the midfield players such as Paul Gascoigne and Paul Allen would come and collect the ball from us boys at the back; all we had to do was defend.

It was great to be playing against teams like Manchester United. I had watched players like Mark Hughes and Bryan Robson on the television and now, as a teenager, found myself playing against them.I wasn’t able to keep a regular place after that first season and in September 1990 was told I had the chance to move to Portsmouth.

It didn’t take me long to decide what to do, in fact I was a Pompey player within 48 hours. I won’t forget my Pompey debut in a hurry. I had not trained for some time, was totally unfit and was replaced at half-time.

It was a difficult start and I used to travel down from London with Warren Neill and Gavin Maguire. But once I moved to Hedge End I became settled and really enjoyed my time at Fratton. I’ve remained in Hedge End ever since and love it.

In my second year at Pompey some good young players, Darren Anderton, Kit Symons, Andy Awford and Daryll Powell came into the side and did really well. I already knew a bit about them. While I was with Spurs we won the south-east Counties League and Southern Floodlit Cup and played against Southampton who had Alan Shearer and the Wallace brothers in their side. But the only team that gave us any trouble was Pompey.

Another player in the Pompey youth side was Mark Kelly. What a shame it was he got injured – he was brilliant.I was disappointed to miss out when we played Liverpool in the 1992 FA Cup semi-final but I stayed at Fratton for a few more years and enjoyed some wonderful moments such as winning at Huddersfield on the last day of the 1995-96 season to avoid relegation.

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