Andy But­ler re­turns to Walsall on loan and main­tains his lucky run

The Football League Paper - - INSIDE - By Joshua Richards

TRA­DI­TIONAL lucky charms tend to be horse­shoes and four leaf clovers, but Walsall man­ager Dean Smith has Andy But­ler.

The Sad­dlers have not won a League match with­out But­ler in the side since Novem­ber 2010 and be­gan the sea­son with­out a vic­tory in their open­ing six games, fol­low­ing his de­par­ture to Sh­effield United.

But Smith’s SOS to Bra­mall Lane was an­swered and, just days after But­ler ar­rived back at the Banks’s Sta­dium on a month’s loan, Walsall kick-started their sea­son with a 3-1 win over Preston last Satur­day.

The for­mer Sad­dlers skip­per, how­ever, puts the change of for­tune down to team work.

“I don’t think I bring any­thing spe­cial,” he said.“The team put in the ef­fort.

“I’ve not missed many games over the years, which I guess is the rea­son why I’ve been on the win­ning side so of­ten.”


But­ler left Walsall with a heavy heart after grow­ing tired of his com­mute from York­shire and con­se­quently spend­ing hours away from his fam­ily.

The for­mer Scun­thorpe and Hud­der­s­field de­fender is back to driv­ing four hours a day on the M1, but in­sists ev­ery minute is worth it hav­ing failed to nail down a reg­u­lar first-team place since his switch to the Blades.

“When you are play­ing games you have a smile on your face, so that keeps me go­ing through the jour­ney,” he said.

“There are a cou­ple of us that travel down in the car to­gether, I pick up James Baxendale en route and we have a cof­fee and a chat. When you play foot­ball you want to be happy.

“I didn’t play many games at Sh­effield United and I didn’t want to be stuck in the stands. So as soon as I found out Walsall were in­ter­ested there was noth­ing to even think about. The gaffer hasn’t changed in the time I was away, so it was easy to slot straight back in.”

But­ler turns 31 in Novem­ber, but has no in­ten­tion of leav­ing the pitch once he has hung up his boots.

A qual­i­fied ref­eree since 2010, he ad­mits of­fi­ci­at­ing en­croached on his game so much that his man­ager had to re­mind him play­ing comes first.

He is cur­rently try­ing his hand ref­er­ee­ing Sun­day league matches in Don­caster and says wear­ing black has made him more ap­pre­cia­tive of his Foot­ball League peers.

“Since qual­i­fy­ing it has def­i­nitely changed how I in­ter­act with ref­er­ees,” added But­ler. “In life you don’t want any­one scream­ing in your ear, it’s the same on the foot­ball field.

“I used to get booked for dis­sent, but I haven’t been in the last four years. A calm chat with a ref­eree to get more un­der­stand­ing of a sit­u­a­tion is al­ways best.

“Ref­er­ees speak to me in games and I have tried to take on board lit­tle things.

“Peo­ple have of­ten said ex-play­ers would make the best of­fi­cials, but ev­ery­one has worked their way up from Sun­day leagues to the Foot­ball League, so I think you can ar­gue a case both ways.

“Ev­ery ref­eree is qual­i­fied and has years of ex­pe­ri­ence be­hind them once they have got to the Foot­ball League. The dif­fer­ence is it is eas­ier for those that have played to spot when a chal­lenge is ma­li­cious or not, or

maybe whether an ad­van­tage should be played. “I do watch games back and look at the de­ci­sions and what I would have done. Ref­er­ee­ing is what I want to do. “Coach­ing cour­ses are quite full at the mo­ment, but not many peo­ple are do­ing ref­er­ee­ing.

“For now though, I’m com­pletely fo­cused on my foot­ball.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Images

IN CHARGE: Andy But­ler ref­er­ee­ing a Sun­day league match TAL­IS­MAN: Andy But­ler in ac­tion for Walsall last sea­son

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