Since the turn of the millennium, there hasn’t been many Grimsby Town youth products who have gone on to have such a glittering career away from Blundell Park than Danny Butterfield has – Ryan Bennett the only other notable product, so far.
Boston-born Butterfield was picked up as a youngster by Grimsby Town where he spent four years in the youth team set up before progressing through the ranks and making his professional debut in September 1997 at home against York City.
Naturally a right back, Butterfield can consider himself very unfortunate that his competition whilst at Blundell Park was none other than Grimsby Town legend John McDermott. It was always going to be difficult to keep Macca out of the team, having already had 11 seasons at the club under his belt.
As a result, Butterfield had to be content with playing in multiple positions other than his own whilst at Town, filling in as a central midfielder, right winger and even a right wing back. This isn’t to say that Butterfield didn’t get chances in his natural position, just that these chances were limited.
Always looking the part and having much promise Butterfield enjoyed personal success at Blundell Park having been awarded Young Player of the Year in successive seasons back in 1999 and 2000. Out of interest the Player of the Year in those seasons were Paul Groves and Mark Lever respectively; more Grimsby Town legends of yesteryear.
Butterfield also experienced rare team success at the Mariners being, having been apart of the squad that did the Wembley double in 1998, winning the Football League Trophy and Second Division Play-Off Final, but not playing a part in either.
Not quite at the same level for obvious reasons but Danny did play a major part in that famous night at Anfield back in October 2001, which we’ll never forget.
At the end of the 2001-02 season Butterfields time at Blundell Park was at an end and moved to fellow Division One club, Crystal Palace on a free transfer. By the time of his move Butterfield had made a total of 147 appearances for the Mariners across his five years in the senior team.
Butterfield went on to have a very successful career away from Grimsby Town with spells at Crystal Palace, Charlton Athletic, Southampton, Bolton Wanderers, Carlisle United and Exeter City.
Danny was still playing up until earlier this season at the age of 36 while at Exeter City in a player/coach capacity, a club he’d been with since September 2013. But in October 2016 Butterfield returned to Southampton to start a new role as Assistant U18 Coach, where the Saints are renowned for producing plenty of top homegrown talent in recent years.
After departing the Mariners, Danny spent eight years at Crystal Palace and was afforded more playing time in his favoured right back role, having competition from Emmerson Boyce and later Eagles youth product Nathaniel Clyne during his time at Selhurst Park.
Although due to financial difficulties at the club, a cameo as a makeshift striker arose during the 2009-10 season. It was during this time that he scored a remarkable 6 minute 48 seconds ‘perfect’ hat trick – right foot, left foot, header – in a FA Cup Fourth Round Replay against Wolves.
After a couple of years at Selhurst Park Butterfield achieved more promotion success, although this time playing a key role in starting the Championship Play-Off Final win against West Ham United at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff. The following season was less successful however, culminating in relegation from the Premier League and having only made seven league appearances due to a combination of form and injuries.
After a further five years with Crystal Palace back in the Championship, including a 12 appearance loan spell at Charlton Athletic, Butterfield made the move down to the south coast to join Southampton in July 2010. The Saints were in League One at the time and enjoyed promotion back to the Championship in Danny’s first season having played a major role from his favoured right back slot.
Injuries and a lack of form curtailed Butterfields second season at Southampton, which culminated in a second successive promotion and back to the Premier League. After the signing of Nathaniel Clyne in July 2012, Butterfields Southampton career was at an end and duly moved on to pastures new.
We were due to be seeing Danny in the opposition dugout with Exeter this season, until his back back to Southampton. Nevertheless it’s fair to say that during his time at the Mariners it could be said that he wasn’t fully appreciated and fairly underrated; only now can it be said that he’s definitely one that got away from us all those years ago.