Norwich City visit is a dream come true for new Gorleston boss Ricci Butler

Ricci Butler will be passing on more instructions today when his part-time players take on Norwich C

Ricci Butler will be passing on more instructions today when his part-time players take on Norwich City in a pre-season friendly. Picture: ROB COLMAN - Credit: Archant

Gorleston boss Ricci Butler will be pinching himself this afternoon when he shares the same touchline as Alex Neil.

In only his second season as a non-league manager, the Greens' new chief will be in the illustrious company of a Premier League counterpart for 90 minutes. If Butler wasn't already hugely excited to face City, the illustrious friendly will also present him with a first chance to stand proudly in the home dugout at Emerald Park.

The 28-year-old swapped neighbours Great Yarmouth Town for higher-level Gorleston after an excellent debut campaign which saw him come mightily close to getting the Bloaters promoted out of the Thurlow Nunn First Division. And Butler, who has spent most of his life supporting or being involved with his current semi-professional employers, admits it is going to be a fairytale experience having Norwich City in town for his emotional bow.

'We've talked about it for quite a while but it only really started to feel real when we sat down to talk about tickets a few weeks back,' said the former Yarmouth boss who was forced to retire from the game due to a knee injury two years ago.

'It was like; 'This is actually going to happen'. My first ever game at Emerald Park is going to be against our biggest side locally who are now in the Premier League.

'First games just don't get any bigger than that. For me, and plenty of people involved with the club, including most, if not all of the players, this game is one of the things you dream about.

'For it to be happening to me and the club, well I'm just ecstatic about it.'

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Unlike the Canaries, Butler's part-time outfit – who compete eight levels below their big-name opponents in the football pyramid – have already been in action this summer.

However, while matches against grassroots duo Caister and Acle have been helpful, they have been far less looked forward to than tomorrow's 3pm showcase, which is expected to attract thousands of supporters.

The Greens' replacement for Richard Daniels said: 'Quite a few lads in the squad are Norwich fans so they're really, really excited.

'It's going to be a great day for them playing against some of their current heroes.

'It really is going to be a fantastic day for the club and you can't get away from the money it will generate.

'When we get the ball we'll try and keep it for as long as we can. When Norwich get the ball, it'll be about making sure each one of the lads do their jobs.

'We won't play a better team, or any better players, this season so the lads and I will need to learn from the game. We'll enjoy it but we must learn from it.'

Gorleston's newly-formed women's team will also get their moment in the spotlight when they take on their City counterparts at 5.30pm.

Butler, who thanked 'the Webb brothers, John and all the other helpers who have helped get Emerald Park in pristine condition for the visit of the Canaries', added: 'It's fantastic that we've got a women's team and they're starting off against Norwich.

'Hopefully it can really take off, thanks to England's World Cup run, with local girls wanting to get their teeth into football.'