Terry Butcher

By Adam Robertson
 September 26, 2020

Terry Butcher - England Skipper

Terry Butcher - England Skipper

The first World Cup that I can remember was in the summer of 1986, from a Scottish perspective it was a case of "what might've been" but for England, anyone who knows anything about football, will tell you it was all about Maradona and how he tormented their defence in more ways than one.

Davie Cooper was the player that caught my eye as an excited youngster obsessed with any sport and so it was a natural decision to don the Light Blue of Rangers - my Dad was a fan in his younger days but moving away from the central belt had seen him become distracted by the oval ball - but it was in the summer of '86 and after one of the most eventful World Cups, that football in Glasgow took a turn for the glamorous and really sparked my excitement.

There wasn't the same coverage as there is now but there were players - even as a kid - that were known across the country, and one of those was Terry Butcher, a man who seemed like a giant, a colossus, to a young boy.

It isn't a stretch to say that he was one of the best defenders in Europe and subsequently world football when he signed for Rangers, joining Graeme Souness's now famous revolution that also had Chris Woods lining up between the posts.

He was 28 when he came to Ibrox from Bobby Robson's Ipswich, and it would be easy to argue that there hasn't been a signing of this magnitude, in terms of quality, made in Scottish football since, a genuinely elite player at his peak.

Three league titles in four seasons were won and he was captain for each of them, the odd one out being the season he broke his leg when nothing went right for Souness, a £1million move to Manchester United had been rumoured that year but his injury led to Sir  Alex Ferguson moving for Steve Bruce instead.

In partnership with Graham Roberts and Richard Gough with Woods behind them, it almost felt unfair, especially when Gary Stevens joined too and Butcher, from an early stage, demonstrated a standard of performance and leadership that still sees modern day wearers of the armband compared to - usually with little success.

There aren't many defenders of the '80's that could fit into how the game is played today but Butcher, Gough and Stevens would be able to, without question. The England skipper was not only one of the hardest centre-halves of his time but he could also play a pass, long diagonals - with either foot - frequently finding Cooper free to torment opposition full-backs.

His spell at Rangers was never dull, an unjustly disallowed goal in an Old Firm cup final, a conviction for breach of the peace following the infamous derby in which Graham Roberts played in goals for 70 minutes, gave Celtic a two goal lead and still managed a 2-2 draw and a £1500 fine for helping Aberdeen with stadium renovations when he removed a door from it's hinges, but his lasting legacy will always be on the field.
For those of a certain age, John Greig is the epitome of a Rangers captain, for my generation it will always be Terry Butcher (followed by Gough of course), he led by example but he also led through the standards that he demanded of others, and there will always be a sense of pride that a player of his calibre chose to ply his trade at Ibrox, and for this, he will hold a place in my all-time XI alongside Gough until someone better comes along - I'll not hold my breath....

Gavin Kelly - @gmkelly1979

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