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Ex-Grimsby Man Danny Butterfield Recalls Fondest Palace Moments

5 January 2019

Danny Butterfield featured a combined 416 times for Crystal Palace and Grimsby Town, etching himself into the annals of both clubs as he did.

The former Eagle is fondly remembered by fans in London for his eight-year service to the club and iconic perfect hat-trick against recent opposition Wolverhampton Wanderers in 2010, which was netted in just six minutes and 48 seconds.

Looking back on a lengthy, successful career in red and blue, Butterfield reflected on where it all began: a move from today's competitors Grimsby Town.

"I was with Grimsby at the time and we played Palace right at the end of the season. I remember playing right midfield in that and I think I created three of the four goals we scored. That stoked some interest. I was out of contract at the time so I was entitled to leave on a free. I had a phone call from Terry Bullivant in the summer asking what my situation was and before I knew it, I was on my way to Selhurst."

That moment ultimately led to a career that witnessed perhaps Palace's highest and lowest points from the new millennium up until their Premier League return, with both the 2004 promotion in Cardiff and 2010 dive towards administration experienced by Butterfield. 

Looking back on the brighter of these two chapters, Butterfield recalled playing against West Ham United in the 2004 First Division Play-Off Final, but it was a somewhat unique thought in particular which stood out to him.

"I remember walking out of the tunnel, [and] West Ham had this pristine white tracksuit top. We had this mucky yellow kit that we’d worn in the semi-finals and Brian the kit man wasn’t quite able to get the stains out from the celebrations at Sunderland. At the same time, that was us, that was our identity and nothing was going to stand in our way.

"You looked across the line and saw them and we were hearing stories that they’d got celebration parties lined up back at Upton Park, flights back for all the players and wives. When you hear those sort of stories, you know it’s going to be your day. I remember it being quite tense, I remember it being ridiculously hot. The application and desire from everyone meant it was always only going to be our day."

Ultimately, it was a solitary, scruffy goal that decided the fate of that day, scored by Palace's Neil Shipperley just as the match entered its final half hour.

Looking back, Butterfield remarked, "It was inevitable that Ships [Shipperley] was going to get the goal because AJ [Andy Johnson] had been the one banging in the goals all season and Ships was the one who was doing unbelievably hard work off the ball for AJ to benefit. So it was right he was the one to get the tap in from AJ’s work. Then we just hung on in there.

"For celebrations afterwards, we just tootled off to our little hotel where we stayed before with our families and that just felt even more us, in it being a small celebration but such a massive thing for the football club."

The team that earned promotion that year became well known, in part, for its grit and unity and at its heart were three players that stood out: Butterfield, Johnson and future captain Shaun Derry.

The trio formed a likeable and close-knit core and Butterfield remembers them together with very fond memories, though it doesn't all seem to have been an easy-going relationship.

"We all signed within the first sort of week or 10 days or so, therefore we were all in the hotel together. For sort of three or four years, we were like brothers, we were inseparable. Our girlfriends were sort of pushed to the side, with us going out as lads. I’m not saying nightclubbing, just even to the coffee shops.

"I think our camaraderie around the place was perhaps infectious for everyone. When it was time to be serious, we were serious; we trained hard. But at the same time, we had a lightheartedness of enjoying what we were doing along the way.

"Us three started like a clothes-based banter for a while and it got to the point where the girlfriends intervened. I turned up one day in a new pair of jeans and by the time I finished training, they were jean shorts! I remember Shaun got a tracksuit and he had to go to a meeting with his girlfriend about a mortgage and he didn’t have time to go home and change, so I wrote ‘Juicy’ across the arse. AJ would have t-shirts turned into vests. After a while, we had to cut a truce on that one."

Fortunately for Palace, though, Butterfield and co.'s regularly damaged clothing didn't affect their careers on the pitch with the Eagles and the hat-trick hero will be fondly regarded in SE25 for years to come.

For more insight into life at Palace from Danny Butterfield, watch the below video, where you'll see his full interview from earlier this year.

The Eagles play Grimsby today at 17.30, with Butterfield's two former sides vying it out to progress to the next round of the Emirates FA Cup. If you want to buy your ticket for the game, click here now

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