Before I started writing as extensively as I do, I used to edit a little-known Lincoln City website that got very few hits or views. The first Imps player who ever agreed to an interview with me was Richard Butcher, who passed away six years ago yesterday.
Thanks to a reader of the blog who located a transcript of the interview, I’ve been able to republish it as a tribute to my favourite Imps player of the time, with kind permission from his Mum.
I’ve started with a few cheesy pop magazine style questions, but do keep reading as further down there is some good football stuff and and some lovely insight into him.
ME: Thanks for doing this, it is appreciated. Your City career is remembered fondly by Imps fans, and most of us take a keen interest in your current career. It’s a new feature and we are glad to have you as our first victim.
RB: I’m happy to help, it sounds good!
Before we moved onto the demanding questions, we wanted to gain an insight into Richard Butcher, the person. So, we set a few standard questions to find out what floats Butch’s boat.
What Floats Your Boat?
ME: What’s your favourite film?
RB: A Few Good Men, Shawshank Redemption.
ME: TV Show?
RB: Sunday Night Project, Never Mind The Buzzcocks! Friday Night With Jonathon Ross.
ME: An up to date one now, your favourite website?
RB: Facebook, makes it easy to catch up with people which is always good.
ME: Do you have a favourite book?
RB: I’m not a big reader but any lad’s mags make good reading!!
ME: What music you into?
RB: Anything goes really from Elvis Presley to a bit of RnB.
After that less than testing start we gave Butch a couple of quick fire 50/50 choices, and asked him to give us a quick-fire answer!
50 / 50
ME: The Sun / Daily Mail
RB: The Sun
ME: McClaren / Capello
ME: Lager / Bitter
ME: Sun / Snow
ME: Big Brother / Thirty Minutes of White Noise
RB: White noise!!!!! Get Big Brother off the television now!!!
With that final answer, of course Butch immediately went up in my estimations even further! As Big Brother is TV’s alternative to being hit in the face with a dead, rotting skunk.
Ok now that we’d had his opinions on life in general, it was time to move onto the part of the quiz that held special interest for me and Imps fans everywhere – the football bit!!!
The Football Bit
ME: Who’s the best player you’ve played with?
RB: Andy Liddell from my time at Oldham.
ME: And the best you played with at Lincoln?
RB: Gary Taylor Fletcher.
GTF was of course a skilful striker brought to City by then boss Keith Alexander from Northwich. He went on to play for Peter Jackson at Huddersfield before moving to Blackpool in the championship.
ME: Most aggressive player played with?
RB: Guy Branston at Peterborough didn’t have a great discipline record!
ME: Who’s the best played you played against?
RB: Probably Nicolas Anelka, but if you were looking for midfielders the toughest two were Mikael Arteta and Tim Cahill from Peterborough’s cup game with Everton a couple of years ago. Cahill got a late winner as we were beaten 2-1.
ME: What’s the best goal you’ve scored?
RB: I hit a few good ones for Lincoln, but the one I scored against Mansfield is the best.
ME: I remember that, back in 2003. We won 2-1, you scored early on an absolute rocket if I recall correctly. I was at that game, we’d just lost two on the bounce and nobody felt confident we’d win. A great goal.
ME: Who’s your biggest influence in the game?
RB: My biggest influence would have to be my Mum and Dad, and I keep in touch with Keith Alexander who signed me for Lincoln.
ME: What’s your best achievement in football so far?
RB: I’d have two. The play off finals with Lincoln were great, oh so close!!! Last season as a highlight for ME personally scoring 12 from midfield for Notts County.
Finally, for now we moved on to the questions we always wanted to ask Butch, a little probe into the events that have shaped his own career. It was now time for Butch to take the hot seat.
ME: We’ll start off easy, give us an amusing tale from your time at Lincoln.
RB: Haha, There’s so many!! It has to be one with Simon Yeo. One of the lads was texting him pretending to be a girl. This lad was really going for it, telling Yeo how gorgeous he was and all that. The whole squad knew it wasn’t a girl, but Yeo didn’t! We had him for a whole week before we told him the truth, the poor guy was devastated!
You also learned to dread your birthday to. Whenever it was your birthday you’d get strapped with tape to Slicks treatment table and have various sprays, creams and vasolines put in your hair. They’d also put Deep Heat in ‘other places’, your readers will have to use their imagination on that!!
ME: So, you play for Notts County now. How do you see the next season for The Pies?
RB: We’ll be hoping for better than last season, it was a disappointing campaign. I think we should be in the mix for the play offs at the very least, but League Two is always unpredictable. Ask me again after 15 games!
ME: You seem to be enjoying your football now as much as you did at City – would it be fair to say Oldham and Peterborough were learning curves for you?
RB: I really rushed into the move to Oldham, I was going to Gatwick on route to a post season holiday with the boys when my agent rang through and told me he needed a decision there and then. I chose to go as they were playing in a higher league and it seemed like a good move for me. Obviously, the money was a step up, but looking back I really wanted that step up. I didn’t even go and look at the facilities or visit the area. At the time my heart was still with Lincoln but I followed my head and not my heart! Obviously, it was a chance to prove myself on the bigger stage, but I never really settled in the area which was a big problem.
I signed for Peterborough as it was closer to home, and mainly because Keith Alexander was there. Soon after I signed Darren Ferguson came in and told us he wanted to bring in his own faces and that I’d be ‘a squad player’. I still had two years left on my contract but I want to play football and earn my living the right way. Notts County came in for me, and here I am. I have learned not to rush into making decisions and that the grass isn’t always greener!!! Notts was a good move for me, last season I played some of the best football of my career and I’m contracted for another year, so I’m settled and happy with my game at the moment.
ME: You never seem to get sent off, is this a reflection on Richard Butcher the person or just good luck?
RB: My critics will probably say it’s because I don’t tackle enough! You never know maybe they have a point! I think I’m a nice guy off the pitch and being nasty on it is something that doesn’t come naturally. I’m working on though as football is my livelihood and I’m always looking to improve my game. I’m not a dirty player anyway so any tackles I do make I try to ensure are well timed and clean! I hope I never get sent off, I’d love to end my career with no red cards to my name.
ME: When you came back to City for those four games, would you have liked to make it permanent?
RB: Yeah definitely. At the time I came back it really felt like I’d come home. I’ll be honest at the time I wanted to stay like mad, it just wasn’t a possibility. I actually kicked up a fuss at Oldham but it just didn’t happen. I remember my last game at Rochdale, we won 2-1, and I don’t mind admitting I was in tears in the changing room because I knew that was it. Oldham wanted me back, and I wasn’t happy I wanted to stay at Lincoln.
ME: Would you ever come back to Lincoln?
RB: I’m happy at Notts County at the moment and enjoying my football, but I wouldn’t rule out pulling on the Red and White stripes one day. You never know. For now, I’ll be doing my best to finish above them!