Today we hear from Kevin Lenton – STAR Board Member
Dennis Butler remembered
He might not get in STAR’s Hall of Fame but he became a favourite of mine after a reserve game at Elm Park. A veteran opposition full back had been chopping one Reading’s youth players and Dennis launched a slide tackle on him at knee level. I think Dennis walked towards the tunnel not waiting for the referee to send him off. Dennis M Butler (The M is important as will be seen later) played for both Hull City (1963-1969) and Reading (1969 – 1974).
He was born in Parsons Green, London and played for Surrey Boys before joining Chelsea in 1960. He was an old fashioned chunky left back, 5ft 8ins, 11st 3lb, who took no prisoners. He was limited to 18 appearances and no goals, which is to become a common theme, but was on the FA Youth Cup winning side on two occasions.
In 1963 Dennis moved to Hull City, incidentally the only team in the football league whose name you cannot colour in, for a large fee then of £ 40,000. Dennis made 215 appearances for Hull City, scoring no goals and gaining a Third Division championship medal in 1966.
He joined Reading in 1969 becoming part of Jack Mansell’s large turnover of staff. In the 1969-70 season he was part of the team that scored 87 goals and as the highest scorers in their league were invited to play in the Watney Cup at the start of the following season. We will pass over the fact that the team conceded 77 goals that season.
Dennis was then part of the Reading team that was relegated to the 4th Division in 1970-71 and was a regular for the next two seasons before leaving the professional game in 1974 to become a decorator, saying that he could not afford to live off 4th Division wages.
Some records have him played 169 games for Reading and others 170 but what is not in doubt is that he never scored a goal for Reading. The closest he ever came was in just his second match when he rounded the Bristol Rovers keeper, and was brought down for a penalty.
A little known fact is, that on 20th September 1970, Dennis was playing at Rochdale, who also had their own Dennis Butler playing and our Dennis was substituted by ….. Dennis G Butler, a youngster who only played 7 times for Reading. Did the PA man announce that Dennis Butler was being replaced by Dennis Butler?
I have memories of Dennis having to play in goal for the first ten minutes of an important game against Luton Town because goalkeeper Steve Death had been held up in the Oxford Road traffic. He didn’t concede a goal either.