Palace had just been plunged into administration and, to find the funds needed to survive, the club sold talismanic forward Victor Moses. Up front, then, Alan Lee was missing a partner when Wolverhampton Wanderers came to Selhurst for an FA Cup Fourth Round clash.
"In a training session with Neil Warnock," Butterfield recalled in an interview with Palace TV, "typical five-a-side - I played up front with Alan Lee and Neil, being Neil, said: 'We'll go with that tomorrow.' And we did."
Playing in the cup - crucial for Palace due to the financial benefits of televised matches - Butterfield found himself spearheading the team at one of its most precarious moments.
Forty-five "terrible" minutes passed the impromptu striker by without anything of note happening and, in his own words, Butterfield feared he "would get dragged."
Then, "the second-half just seemed to click." In the 62nd minute, Butterfield would notch his first strike in the annals of Crystal Palace history.
With Wayne Hennessey in the Wolves goal denying a fine Matt Lawrence header, the ball sailed up invitingly for Butterfield, who hadn't scored a goal for well over a year. Squeezing past Wolves' Michael Mancienne, Butterfield headed home to hand Palace a lead worth over £330,000 in TV payments alone.
Just three minutes later, Butterfield latched onto a Darren Ambrose knock-down, struck with his right into the Wolves goal and, three minutes after celebrating for the second time, stabbed home similarly having received Lee's glancing header.
The left-footed effort in the game's 68th minute not only secured the club an eventual 3-1 victory, but also secured Butterfield a place in its folklore forever.
"Because it all happened so quickly, it was actually funny," the hat-trick hero suggests.
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