Football: GET YOUR KIT WASHED FOR THE BOYS; Thomas Butler Learned How to Play Dirty in the English Lower Leagues

Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland), October 10, 2004 | Go to article overview

Football: GET YOUR KIT WASHED FOR THE BOYS; Thomas Butler Learned How to Play Dirty in the English Lower Leagues


Byline: SCOTT McDERMOTT

A HARD training session with Darlington was over and Thomas Butler tossed his dirty gear into a hamper for the kit man to wash.

But just as quickly as he'd thrown it down it was pitched back by captain Martin Gray.

'What do you think you're doing?' said the skipper. Butler was stunned. 'What?' 'You take your kit home and wash it yourself here.'

It was a culture shock for the young Irish midfielder who had been sent on loan by then Sunderland boss Peter Reid to experience the harsher realities of football.

Butler never forgot his time at the Quakers or that day when Gray made him realise just how lucky he was.

The memory is still with him and he's now relishing his chance at Dunfermline.

Thomas was frozen out at the Stadium of Light when a bitter contract dispute that's still on-going turned his dream sour.

From his early days growing up in Dublin, playing professional football was the be all and end all.

Butler, who has two Republic of Ireland caps, is in Fife until January and aiming to win a long-term contract in the SPL.

He has watched with envy as old Black Cats mate Stanislav Varga turned his career round at Celtic, scoring a Champions League goal in the San Siro no less.

But the 23-year-old is just glad to be playing again especially after experiencing life in England's Third Division.

He recalls his days there with fondness and revealed why he didn't think twice about making a new start in Scotland.

Thomas said: 'Peter Reid sent me out on loan to Darlington to get me physically mature, I wasn't ready for his first team yet.

'It was a real shock at Darlington. I came in from training and threw my stuff into one of the hampers as you'd normally do at Sunderland.

'I thought the kit man would wash it but the captain Martin grabbed hold of me, gave me the kit back and said 'what do you think you're doing? You have to take that home and wash it yourself.' 'I was like 'what?' The kit was red and I washed it along with white shorts - the whole lot turned pink. So the next day I was running about with pink training gear on.

"But Martin looked after me at Darlington - the Third Division is tough.

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