Perhaps the most tragic news that we have had to report at Young Academic as the death of 29 year-old Macclesfield Town midfielder Richard Butcher has been confirmed. In news that will rock the football league, Burton Albion’s match with Macclesfield Town today has been postponed out of respect. Much of the student news we have been reporting this week seems to have been put into perspective following this huge shock.
Richard Tony Butcher had been enjoying a successful spell at League Two struggler’s Macclesfield but the highlights of his career were undoubtedly three separate spells with Lincoln City. Whilst with the imps, Butcher appeared in two play-off final defeats at the Millenium Stadium. He also played for Northampton Town, Rushden & Diamonds, Kettering Town, Oldham Athletic, Peterborough United and Notts County and made a reputation for himself as an industrious and battling midfielder who also had a good eye for goal.
Butcher came through the youth ranks at his home town club Northampton Town and he was promoted to the first team during the summer of 1999. At the time the club was under the management of Ian Atkins, but Butcher played just one game under him before he was replaced by Kevin Wilson. Butcher was released in March 2008.
Following his release, Brian Talbot snapped the midfielder up for Rushden & Diamonds in the Conference but Butcher again failed to make an impression and was again released.
In October 2001 he signed non-league Kettering Town who had suffered relegation in the previous season from the Conference. With Kettering, Butcher made his first real contribution for a football club – helping the club back to an instant promotion. Butcher nevertheless left Kettering in 2002.
Butcher joined Football League Third Division Lincoln City which had recently recovered from a financial struggle that had nearly seen the club go out of business. The club was now under the stewardship of Keith Alexander who had began to bring in a new influx of players to the team. He made his City debut on 23 November 2002 in a 2-1 home defeat against his former club Rushden. He scored his first Imps goal on 14 December in a 2-2 draw with Cambridge United. By the end of the 2002–2003 season Lincoln had gained entry into the Play-Offs following a dramatic Simon Yeo equaliser against Torquay United on the final day of the season. City progressed to the final at Cardiff’s Millenium Stadium following a 6-3 aggregate victory over Scunthorpe Unitedin the semi-finals. Butcher played the full ninety minutes of the final but couldn’t help Lincoln from losing to A.F.C. Bournemouth 5-2. During the 2003–2004 season Lincoln reached the Play-Offs yet again but were defeated by Huddersfield Town in the semi-final. The 2004–2005 campaign saw The Imps qualify for a third succesive Play-Off spot and after dumping Macclesfield Town out in the semi-final, City were beaten 2-0 by Southend United.
August 2005 rang in a new era for Butcher when he joined Football League One side Oldham Athletic who were managed by Ronnie Moore. He made his debut for The Latics on the opening day of the 2005–2006 season in a 2-0 victory over Yeovil Town. However despite figuring in nearly every game up until October he was loaned back to Lincoln City for a month in which he played 4 games, scoring once. Butcher returned to Oldham and completed the rest of the season making 39 appearances in all competitions, scoring 4 goals.
Butcher was reunited with Keith Alexander when he signed a contract with Peterborough United where he was one of a number of former Lincoln players brought to London Road by United’s recently appointed manager. Alexander and Butcher both left United after one season.
Football League Two side Notts County came in for Butcher when his Peterborough contract had run its course and he signed a deal with the Meadow Lane side. Butcher played two seasons with County and worked under Ian McParland.During his time at Notts County, Butcher contributed 18 league goals which played a major role in the team’s fight against relegation.
On 27 May 2009 Butcher signed a two year deal at Lincoln City for a third spell, he was Peter Jackson’s first signing of the summer. However the club soon after parted company with manager Peter Jackson and his replacement Chris Sutton rarely used him in the first team. Butcher was made available for loan in the new year and departed Sincil Bank in February.
He re-joined Keith Alexander in February 2010 for a third spell this time with Macclesfield Town, scoring on his debut in a 2-1 defeat to Bury. Sadly on 3 March 2010 Alexander suddenly died at home following the clubs away match with Notts County, this had come little over a month since Alexander had brought Butcher to Macclesfield. The Silkmen appointed Gary Simpson as manager, who had previously been Alexander’s assistant at Lincoln and Peterborough. Butcher signed permanently with Macclesfield in July 2010 following his official release from Lincoln. On 20 May 2010 Butcher signed a two year deal at Macclesfield Town. The final match of his career was on 3 January 2011 when Macclesfield were beaten 0-2 by Rotherham United.
Butcher died aged 29 at his Swinton home on 9 January 2011. After Butcher had failed to turn up for training on Monday morning, club manager Gary Simpson found out after an investigation that Butcher’s wife had been away and that he had died overnight. Butcher’s death came less than a year after the death of Macclesfield manager Keith Alexander, who had also managed Butcher at both Lincoln City and Peterborough United.
The next match for Macclesfield Town, an away game at Burton Albion originally scheduled for 15 January was then postponed in respect to Butcher and Macclesfield Town.