Terry Butcher proves that grass isn’t always greener in big-money England
09/01/2013 § Leave a comment
News this week that Inverness Caledonian Thistle manager Terry Butcher rejected the chance to head south for English Championship side Barnsley certainly seems to have a sense of irony about it. Having said that, it could also be deemed a rare act of defiance, and one in which was warmly welcomed in the Highland capital of Scotland. I, as many other Caley Thistle fans were I assume, was fearing the worst when Butcher was granted permission to speak to Barnsley.
It seems a normality in recent times for any successful football person in Scotland to jump ship south of the border for the bags of money on offer in the English game these days. Some may argue that players, managers or coaches should attempt to make every bit they can out of the game. Nevertheless Butcher’s refusal to plump for the English Championship and a decision to stay in the SPL, even though that is now a slight rarity, it does prove that the grass isn’t greener on the other side. A refreshing sight, and Terry, I commend you.
ICT supporters have already taken to Twitter in their masses to express their delight in the fact that Butcher will be remaining as Inverness boss. And with delight often comes ecstasy, although in this case, I would suspect relief as well. Let’s face it, Butcher would have doubled his wages joining Barnsley. It’s common knowledge that Championship clubs in England are far superior when it comes to financial muscle in comparison with SPL clubs — and I include the Old Firm in that.
The calibre of player Butcher would have envisioned teaming up with him at Barnsley’s Oakwell Stadium would have been greater than that of which he hopes to attract to Inverness. As recently as November 2012, Barnsley signed ex-Manchester United and West Brom midfield enforcer Jonathan Greening and recruited proven Championship goalscorer Marcus Tudgay, both from Nottingham Forest. The club last summer also signed former Tottenham striker Mido who scored his fair share of goals during time in the Premier League. And in contrast, Inverness have just signed unknown defender Danny Devine from non-league Wrexham. Furthermore, the Tulloch Caledonian Stadium where Buther’s troops turn out every other Saturday has a stadium capacity of around 7,500 approximately. Compare that to Oakwell’s, of well over 20,000.
So why wouldn’t the former England centre half want to go to Yorkshire? Well for me, that much is obvious, and perhaps more Scottish players or managers should take a leaf out of Terry’s book and not be swayed by the pound signs so often. Don’t get me wrong, Barnsley is a fantastic English club with great tradition and loyal supporters, but the club is currently sitting at the bottom of the Championship and seems doomed. In all likelihood it will enter the third tier of English football at the end of the season.
Yet up north Inverness are flying, and are potentially all set to complete their greatest season in history with the mouth watering prospect of European football at the end of it all. The Highland club sit second in the SPL behind Celtic and football fever in the Highlands seems greater than ever. Remarkable really, considering at the end of every footballing year it seems, Butcher is asked by the boardroom to cut his playing squad and staff, and work with essentially no budget in order to bring in new reinforcements. He wouldn’t have had that aspect to worry about as much if he’d joined Barnsley right enough.
Having said that, I recall current Rangers chief executive Charles Green commenting on former Ger Steven Whittaker’s eventual arrival at Norwich City, at which Green said that Rangers will be back involved with European football before Norwich are, and in my opinion he’s right. Could Barnsley offer Butcher European football and a chance to come up against the best teams in the continent anytime soon? No chance.
On a side note, Inverness have also revealed a star in the making this term, with the emergence of goal machine Billy McKay. McKay is from my hometown of Corby in Northamptonshire, England and already has 14 goals to his name in the SPL so far this season, current joint best.
Although Scottish football can’t compete on the money side of things with those down south, I like to call it the land of opportunity. A chance to ply your trade in the top tier of a nation. A nation in which football is the national sport and thus contains some of the most passionate fans in the land. Terry Butcher has never been one to shy away from a challenge. He got the ball rolling for the glory years at Glasgow Rangers in the late 80s and early 90s when the Graeme Souness revolution took centre stage under owner Sir David Murray. Back then, Butcher went into a club, grasped it by the horns and rallied it to great success. That’s exactly what he is doing and will continue to do in Inverness. He is one of many assets to the Scottish game right now.
At this time also, I can’t help but remind myself and readers of scenarios in the past where players from Scotland have jumped at the chance of doubling their money in England and have seemingly come out of it on the worse side of it. Scotland under 21 international Fraser Fyvie left hometown club Aberdeen, at which he was a regular starter, to join Premier League side Wigan Athletic at which now he is never anywhere near the first team team sheet. Similarly ex Dundee United striker David Goodwillie, arguably the brightest talent in Scottish football back in the day, headed south to join Blackburn Rovers amidst interest from Rangers. Blackburn have since been relegated, had two different mangers, of which Goodwillie couldn’t get a game for any of them, and the striker has now been frozen out in the cold. He was recently shipped out on loan to Crystal Palace, and lasted one game of that loan spell.
Now there have been players go to England and become a remarkable success. Graham Dorrans joined West Brom from Livingston. The two James’s, McCarthy and McArthur, arrived at Wigan from Hamilton Academical and of course Charlie Adam, dubbed as the boo boy during his Ibrox days, went off to Blackpool. Adam became a seaside cult hero and that eventually lead to a dream move to Liverpool as Scotland legend Kenny Dalgleish brought him to Anfield to play alongside Steven Gerrard.
But the most notable flop who left Scotland for England in arguably another money grabbing scene was when SPL record goalscorer Kris Boyd left his homeland. Boyd scored a hat full of goals for boyhood heroes Rangers and Kilmarnock before then and held an impressive goalscoring record for the Scottish national team. Yet as his contract was running down at Ibrox, Walter Smith offered him and the club reportedly the best contract they could, an improvement on Boyd’s wages, and vowed to make him the biggest earner at the club and a chance to lead Rangers to glory on all fronts every season. But even that wasn’t enough. Boyd saw the larger pound signs arguably and joined Gordon Strachan’s Scottish revolution at Middlesbrough. It would turn out to be a false revolution for Boyd and Strachan. The frontman only scored a mere six goals in 27 appearances. Stark contrast to his 101 goals in 143 games ratio at Rangers. Strachan also brought in Scott Mcdonald, Barry Robson, Stephen McManus and Andy Halliday from his homeland, with the opportunity for those players of increased wages at Boro. None of them were able to set the heather on fire. Halliday has recently been linked with a return to Scottish football for Ally McCoist’s now Division Three Rangers. Boyd on the other hand is now plying his trade in America with MLS side Portland Timbers.
Back when Mark McGhee was Motherwell manager, he had the chance to join what is arguably a bigger club in Heart of Midlothian. He, as Butcher has done, turned down that opportunity. At that time McGhee said, “The Hearts job was a bigger one, but it wasn’t a better one.” Potentially, the same could be said for the Butcher case, and what’s more, this could be further evidence that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.