Where are they now?
Big Tony Butler began his career at Gillingham 18 years ago. The centre back spent 6 seasons at Priestfield before signing for Blackpool in the summer of 1996 for a fee of £225,000 - quite a sum for Pool at the time.
"Big Buts" played over 90 games for the club in a three year stint. Tony made the move to the Potteries to play for Port Vale in 1999. The Valiant spayed £115,000 for the defender`s services.
It wasn`t long before Butler caught the attention of the Baggies and he was soon on the move to the Hawthorns for a fee of £140,000. Tony made over 70 appearances for West Brom in Division 1, scoring just the 1 goal.
A free transfer to Bristol City in 2002 took Tony back into Division 2. At Ashton Gate Butler came up against the Seasiders in the league. But it wasn`t long before Butler was lining up for the Pool once more when Colin Hendry signed him up to help bolster the back line. Butler played alongside Peter Clarke at the heart of the Pool defence as we battled against the drop. The big man even popped up with a goal in a 4-2 home win over Doncaster in January 2006.
When Pool finally secured their place in League 1 for another season Butler left the seaside where he linked up with conference outfit Forest Green Rovers.
A year later Butler dropped into the conference north in a spell with Hinckley. Last November the defender moved on once again to sign for Blue Square north side Alfreton Town. The 35 year old is still going strong in an Alfreton team sitting in mid table in Blue Square north.
The veteran centre half was a fine servant for Blackpool. "Big Buts" was invariably immense in the air even if he lacked a touch of pace in his second spell with the club. I`m sure most Pool fans would wish Tony all the best as he nears the end of his playing career. Cheers big man!
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