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NCFC top 100 appearances: Barry Butler (17)

Barry Butler, left, and team-mates from the team which played Luton in the 59ers FA Cup run, from right: captain Ron Ashman, Roy  McCrohan, Terry Allcock, Sandy Kennon, Terry Bly, Jimmy Hill, Bobby Brennan, Matt Crowe, Errol Crossan and Butler. Picture: Archant

Barry Butler, left, and team-mates from the team which played Luton in the 59ers FA Cup run, from right: captain Ron Ashman, Roy McCrohan, Terry Allcock, Sandy Kennon, Terry Bly, Jimmy Hill, Bobby Brennan, Matt Crowe, Errol Crossan and Butler. Picture: Archant

17 Barry Butler

Barry Butler: 1963-66. Barry Butler: 1963-66.

349 appearances/3 goals

The name Barry Butler will forever be synonymous with the best of Norwich City Football Club – through tragic circumstances.

Butler was killed in a car accident in 1966 and it was decided that his memory should be marked by the creation of a Player of the Season award, bearing his name.

Fittingly, the award has become highly treasured, won by some of the great names among the player ranks over the years.

Butler was born in Stockton-on-Tees and began his career at Sheffield Wednesday, where he made 26 appearances before heading to Norfolk in August 1957.

He occupied a role in the centre of defence where he led by example – an outstanding captain and a leader who inspired his team-mates.

Butler wasn’t just a player who stuck around for a long time and racked up the appearances: he was a truly gifted defender, one feared by opponents. He was one of City’s great players.

He was signed by Archie Macaulay, who forked out for £5,000 for Butler in August 1957. He quickly settled into Norfolk life and established himself as a vital part of the team.

He was a member of the famous 1958-59 FA Cup campaigners, who, as a Third Division South side, beat Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United on an incredible run to the semi-finals, before bowing out to Luton Town after a replay.

Butler didn’t miss a match the following season as City were promoted to Division Two and was just as vital in 1962 as City won the League Cup, beating Rochdale over two legs.

He had few peers at centre-half and in 1963 took over the captaincy from Ron Ashman, who took over as manager on a permanent basis. Butler was a regular until 1965 when injury forced him into early retirement.

He became player-coach for the 1966-67 season but it was a role he never took up: tragedy struck on April 9, 1966 when he was killed in a car crash in Sprowston. He was just 31.

“Barry is probably the best centre-half who has ever played for the club,” said former team-mate Bill Punton.

“On the field he was a leader, a real leader. He was the man who kept the team going all the time.”

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