Barry Butler (footballer, born 1934)
|Date of birth||30 July 1934|
|Place of birth||Stockton-on-Tees, England|
|Date of death||9 April 1966 31)(aged|
|Place of death||Sprowston, Norwich, England|
|Height||6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)|
|Playing position||Centre half|
|Stockton West End|
|–||South Bank Juniors|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.|
Barry Butler (30 July 1934 – 9 April 1966) was a professional footballer who, after trials with Middlesbrough and Dundee, played for Sheffield Wednesday and Norwich City. He is remembered by his team-mates and supporters as an inspirational captain and outstanding defensive player.
Butler, who played for Norwich until his death in a car crash in 1966, was often referred to as one of the best defenders in the league by opponents and is regarded as one of Norwich's greatest ever players.
Butler was educated at Richard Hind secondary school in his hometown of Stockton. Whilst there he captained both the football and cricket teams. Upon leaving school Butler took a job as an apprentice electrical fitter at ICI in nearby Billingham where he played in the works football team. He played for various minor clubs whilst at ICI including Northern League side South Bank.
Butler joined Sheffield Wednesday as a teenager in September 1952 with the Hillsborough club paying South Bank £300 for his services. After working his way up the ranks in the "A" team and reserves he finally made his first team debut for the Owls on 2 January 1954 at the age of 19. Butler replaced the injured Cyril Turton in a Division One game at home to Burnley; the game finished as a 2–0 win for Wednesday.
The match would be the start of a 19 consecutive game run in the first team for Butler, a sequence that ended in the 4–1 loss at home to Huddersfield Town on 3 April. The run included eight FA Cup games as the Owls reached the semi-finals, eventually being beaten 2–0 by Preston North End at Maine Road. He made several appearances the following season, but the increased competition caused by the signing of Don McEvoy in December 1954 spelled the end of his Wednesday career. Butler played just three more games in a Wednesday shirt – the final one as a centre-forward – before he was relegated to the reserves for the remaining two years of his time at Hillsborough. He played a total of 36 games for the club, scoring once in the 2–1 loss away to Blackpool on 19 February 1955.
Norwich manager Archie Macaulay paid Sheffield Wednesday a transfer fee of £5,000 for Butler in August 1957, just after he had finished his service in the RAF. He immediately made an impression and established himself as an essential member of the side. In the 1958–59 season, he was a member of the Norwich team that embarked on one of the most famous FA Cup runs of all time. A third division side at the time, they reached the semi-finals (defeating, among others, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United along the way) and narrowly lost the semi-final in a replay at St Andrews against Luton. The following season, Butler played in every match of the campaign as City won promotion to Division Two of the Football League. Two years later, he was a key member of the Norwich team that won the Football League Cup for the first time, as they beat Rochdale 4–0 in a two-legged final. At the time Butler was considered to be the best un-capped centre-half in the country.
In 1963, Butler was appointed team captain when Ron Ashman relinquished his playing duties to take up the job of managing the team on a permanent basis. Around the same time he earned his FA coaching badge, and later he was awarded the role of player-coach for the 1966–67 season. He played a total of 349 matches for the club including a consecutive run of 208 games which was only broken because of his appearance in an FA XI side.
Tragically Butler would never take up his position as player-coach. On 9 April 1966, Butler was killed in a car crash at the age of 31, his car having collided with a bus late at night. His funeral was held at St Peter Mancroft church in Norwich. The following year, the Norwich City player of the year award was named The Barry Butler Memorial Trophy in his honour and has been voted for by the supporters every year since then.
In 2002, when the club held an on-pitch reunion of former players prior to a match against Harwich & Parkestone to mark the club's centenary, Butler's widow attended to represent him. His son David attended a Hall of Fame dinner at Norwich City Football Club in January 2004.
- Canary Citizens by Mark Davage, John Eastwood, Kevin Platt, published by Jarrold Publishing, (2001), ISBN 0-7117-2020-7