Tricky left winger Ian Butler joined Hull City in January 1965, a £40,000 being paid for his signature as the Tigers compiled a strike force ready to take on all-comers in the Third Division. His signing came two months after Ken Wagstaff was signed from Mansfield Town and was followed a week later by the final piece in the jigsaw, Ken Houghton also moving from Rotherham. Butler went straight into the City first team and on his debut contributed to a 5-1 cuffing of Colchester. His first City goal came in mid-February 1965 during a 4-0 win over Shrewsbury and in April he netted again at Walsall. Having started every game since he joined, Butler was considered a key part of the City attack just four months after his transfer.
It was therefore some surprise when on the opening day of the 1965/66 season Leicester born forward Terry Heath lined up on the left wing, not Butler. While Heath weent on to prove himself a capable substitute during the pivotal 1965/66 season, normal service was quickly resumed on City’s left flank and Ian started every game for the rest of the season. The City forward line of Henderson, Wagstaff, Chilton, Houghton and Butler swatted aside the majority of Division Three opponents and made it to the Quarter Finals of the FA Cup too, with Butler netting 13 league goals and two more in the Cup’s early rounds at Bradford Park Avenue and Gateshead. In the league Ian peaked with a Friday night hattrick at Walsall a week before Christmas 1965, but his game was primarily about supplying the crosses for Chilton and passes to Wagstaff that led to numerous goals for the deadly strike duo.
Promotion to the Second Division prompted manager Cliff Britton to make some adjustments to his squad for the 1966/67 season but Butler’s position on the left wing was rock solid. A series of short absences from the first team denied Butler the same momentum that built up a year earlier but he still netted eight times including a December 1966 brace against Walsall exactly a year to the day after his hattrick against the same opponent. Butler remained City’s outside left for the next five seasons, spanning the closing years of Britton’s tenure and the first two years of Terry Neill’s spell in charge, including the 1970/71 season when City went close to top flight promotion before falling away in the closing weeks. Butler’s solid goalscoring record continued through these seasons and it wasn’t until December 1972 that Butler finally dropped out the first XI for an extended period of time. He returned for a handful of games in March 1973 but by then Neill’s attentions had turned to Leeds-born youngster Roy Greenwood and Butler’s days were numbered. He left the Tigers in July 1973, the same time as Houghton, with his reputation intact as a goalscoring winger and a vital part of City’s superb mid-1960s squad.
Ian Butler was born in Darton near Barnsley during the later years of World War 2 and by 1959 he was taken on as an apprentice footballer by Rotherham United. Butler was handed his Millers’ debut in April 1961, a few weeks after his 17th birthday, and scored his first senior goal in November 1961 in a League Cup replay against Preston. Ian was selected to play for the England Youth team in 1962 and after playing as supporting forward for two years he became first choice left winger for Rotherham in the early weeks of 1963. In the 1963/64 season he scored 16 goals including 8 strikes in 11 games during September, October and November. A similar run of five goals in 8 starts during October and November 1964 were sufficient to encourage Hull City to purchase Butler on New Years’ Day 1965, having scored 29 times in 118 senior appearances for Rotherham.
Butler joined York City in July 1973 and after a decent start to the 1973/74 campaign he missed four months of football between November and April. He started the last six games of the season but by late September 1974 he was out of the side again, returning for a late December league match against Hull City that yielded the Minstermen a 3-0 win. With York City in the Second Division Butler was not selected during the opening weeks of the 1975/76 season and in October 1975 he dropped down to the Fourth Division joining Barnsley for a two month loan that added 5 appearances and 1 goal to the 53 appearances and 3 goals he mustered for York. In March 1976 he joined Bridlington Town but hung up his boots shortly after.
Ian’s son Martin Butler was also a professional footballer, starting out at York City in the mid 1980s and ending up at North Ferriby United in the early 1990s.
Date/Place of Birth: 1 February 1944, Darton
Hull City First Game: 2 January 1965, Colchester United H (Division Three), 20 years, 336 days old
Hull City Final Game: 10 April 1973, Luton Town H (Division Two), 29 years, 68 days old
Rotherham United (1959-1965), Hull City (1965-1973), York City (1973-1976), Barnsley (1975, loan), Bridlington Town (1976-1977)
Hull City Record
Career: 339 apps, 70 goalsIan Butler
|1965/66||45 (0)||13||7 (0)||2||2 (0)||0||-||-||-||-|
|1966/67||31 (0)||8||3 (0)||0||1 (0)||0||-||-||-||-|
|1967/68||34 (0)||5||3 (0)||0||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|1968/69||39 (0)||10||1 (0)||0||2 (0)||0||-||-||-||-|
|1969/70||39 (0)||9||1 (0)||0||2 (0)||0||-||-||-||-|
|1970/71||36 (1)||7||4 (0)||1||-||-||-||-||2 (0)||0|
|1971/72||34 (1)||8||3 (0)||1||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|1972/73||22 (3)||4||-||-||2 (0)||0||-||-||1 (0)||0|