Monday, 19 December 2011

Dbl Coverage Interviews: Ed Butcher two time BUAFL Defensive MVP

Double Coverage were privileged to sit down with BUAFL legend Ed Butcher and talk about football, friends and his legendary father.




DC: So, how did you get into football?

EB: When I was a lad, summer holidays were normally spent across the pond on trips to Disney world in Florida and the rest of the theme parks! It was from watching TV in countless sports bars the old man would take us around that I discovered the sport. I would watch loads of games and all the American Football movies as well.

My older brother and I would often throw the ball around in the garden and then when he went to university and joined up with the Glasgow Tigers I went to as many games as I could! I learnt a lot from watching him and the Tigers and my passion grew from there! I gained a scholarship to go over to a Private School in Northampton, MA, where I got to experience the full on the high school football experience and lifestyle.

DC: What position do you play? What attracted you to that position?

EB: The funny thing is I started off as a Quarterback as I can throw the ball a fair distance and accurately. It would have been interesting to see how I would have got on if I had continued there. I decided after 2 weeks of training that I was not going to be good enough to get on the field with the calibre of QB’s around my team at the time and I didn’t want to be redshirted, so I suggested to my coach I wanted to change!

When asked where I would go I decided to go back to my old position of Defensive end. I had played there before and it was a position I was made for! Hard hitting, tough going and non-complicated football, where every down you get to hit someone! Coming from a rugby background this suited me down to the ground. In my second season I was recruited to play offensive tackle as well, which worked for me as this was the position I had been going up against and one that I had always wanted to play! 

That season and the following seasons I also played Tight End, Slot receiver and Wide Receiver! In my final University season I played Outside and Middle Linebacker, which gave me the opportunity to have a run up and hit people!

DC: What is your attitude towards the game? Do you see it as a lifestyle or just something to do in your spare time?

EB: For me it was a lifestyle, one that I totally immersed myself in and have always enjoyed! You can spot the people at training who see it as a hobby and something to do in their spare time, as they are the ones not going 100% at training. This always disappointed me as you would hear the excuse that in university sports that students are here to study first and play sport second. 

What a crock! I came to university to play American Football first and get an education second! The thing  with these guys is drinking comes first, yet if they realised that the team drinks a fair amount but train hard at the same time they wouldn’t half ass football.

 I use to train, then ice both knees and rest that night while watching game footage from the previous game and speak to coaches. During the week I would watch game footage on the next team we were playing and make notes, relay them to other people on the team and give them keys. I know that might be excessive but I wanted to win! 

DC: Winning a championship in your rookie year with the Southampton Stags is quite an induction into the game. Looking back now, how did you find your rookie year in BUAFL?

EB: I loved my rookie year! Its one that I look back on with fond memories and always tell my players about. Maybe its nostalgia that gets the best of me but I remember that first season as playing with some of the best players in the sport at that time. 

I use to treat training seasons like they were NFL tryouts. The scary thing is, with the team I was in you had to! I played along side 9 other defensive linemen, all of which were fighting for starting places week in week out. It was never a secure spot. Going up against 13 offensive linemen every practice meant that not only were you fighting between yourselves for spaces you would have to prove yourself against different linemen every time you stepped into the drill. 

There were blood feuds on Offence and Defence during scrimmages at practice, neither wanting to be shown up, with screaming and shouting from the sidelines. The coaches worked you until you could barely move and that was normally just the first hour. With another one and half hours to go you would have to dig deep and work hard to get through.

Everyone who took part that year had the same attitude and everyone was on the same page. We wanted the National Championship and we were all willing to work for it! That season was filled with highs and lows, first game of the season I tore my ACL on the second last play of the game and finishing the season of with a National Championship title and ring (one of my truly prized possessions). I will never forget that season or the players and coaches I shared it with.


DC: Being selected as BUAFL Defensive MVP two years in a row is a great achievement. How did you feel on being selected? Did you find teams would scheme away from you?

EB: The first year I received the award I was in total shock. I knew I had had a good season, but I didn’t think it was anywhere near good enough to receive the award. I definitely couldn’t have done it without the help of certain individuals. When I received it the next year I again couldn’t believe it, as I had not had anywhere near as successful a season as the previous one.

 I felt that someone had been cheated out the award and that the league had forgotten to look into the awards and gave them to the winners of the previous year. I won’t lie though, I love saying that I won it two years in a row but I feel only one was truly earned! 

I was schemed against towards the end of my second season and the first year I won the award. When I played the Birmingham Lions in the Southern Final I was double and sometimes triple teamed to be taken out the game, although this left my colleague on the other side, Mr Ed Wilkes, to have the game of his life. Also the following season teams ran the ball to the other side from me more often than not. I don’t see this as insulting or unfair but the other team showing respect and as a medal of honour.


 

DC: Being part of both the Southampton Stags and the Solent Redhawks due to the single institution split gives you a unique perspective from two teams. What did you learn from the split? How different are the two team’s attitudes towards the game?

EB: The split hit me hard. I loved playing for the Stags, started a great career there and built many friendships. I truly believe that had the split not happened we would have won the title back the next year. The split hurt a lot of people, not just myself and we were lucky enough to be given the opportunity through Sport Solent and Solent University we have managed to create, build and provide a great set up for future football players.

 I learnt from the split that if there are enough people passionate about the sport, having a team torn apart does not mean that it is the end for a team, but the rebirth of two teams who are still close and who will work and battle with and against each other for years to come. 

Both teams have the same attitude, to grow, to compete and to be the best and I expect a lot from both these teams in the future, possible even the National Championship Trophy returning home!

DC: Over the years you must have played against some great players, do any in particular come to mind? That guy who always made you miss that crucial tackle?

EB: Before I mention players I’ve played against whom I either struggled against or kicked my ass, I have players I have played with I would like to mention. I’ve played some great QB’s in my time but Michal Katnik for me was one of the best, he could throw, run and always make something happen, always he was a bastard to chase round the field.

With him was Tam Amachree, hands down one of the best running backs this game has produced at University level. This man was impossible to keep contained and watching him hit people was a work of art. Another guy I played next to is Ed Wilkes at Linebacker, knowing he was there to back me up every play was a constant reassurance and another player who excelled in his position, he was a force to be reckoned with.

Defensive tackles Sam Bennett and Dave Bustin. Without those guys constantly fighting against me in practice, applying pressure and opening holes for me in games I wouldn’t have achieved half of what I have. 

Players I have a lot of respect for and ones that have always made me work hard and have on occasions schooled me through out my 4 years of playing University ball have come in all shapes and sizes. The first I would like to tip my cap to and its shocking I don’t remember his name is the Tight End from Staffordshire Stallions who we played against in the National Championship game up in Doncaster. The size of the man dwarfed even me; it was like going up against a WWE wrestler! The fact he played tight end was incredible and his blocking was unreal because his arms were longer than mine and that is something I have never come across. 

Thomas Piachaud at offensive line has a rep of being one of the dirtiest players to play with and against, but this was a common misconception with Piachaud, he wasn’t dirty he was technically brilliant. He would get into position to pancake you when you turned with out you knowing that you would be turning and when you eventually made the decision to and start the motion then POW, he was there!  Going up against him on the line was never an easy job and you would have to work very hard to get past him or in my case a swim move and he was stumped. 

Tristan Varney was a player who won the Offensive MVP along side my awards both years is someone I hold in high regard as one of the best players in our generation. His ability to command a team and take control of a game is second to none and trying to contain, pressure, hit and hurry was one of the hardest QB’s I’ve come across. I was devastated when I heard of his injury as its horrible to hear of such a great player being taken out the game for any period of time. 

Ben Peddie is a good friend of mine and one hell of an offensive lineman, this man is someone I have had to battle day in day out! Someone again who leads the line and leads by example, he was always the first person to “lay down the boom” as he would say and hustle to the ball, hitting anyone en route. He always said he would blindside me and put me out a game, (playful banter of course!) but this never happened, something I constantly remind him of. 

There have been other great players I’ve played against but those are the ones that have given me the most trouble, I wish them all the best.

DC: Have you got eyes on a move to the senior leagues?
There are many possibilities for senior league this season.  The Hampshire Thrashers train and play at Test Park, the sports facility I work for currently. There are a few players I know who are trying to convince me to make the long distance jump to the Big Smoke to play for the London Warriors, this could also be a possibility. I am still undecided as I’m concentrating on coaching and my current application to Sandhurst………but hey everyone has to go for a long shot now and again!

DC: You now coach at Solent. How has this changed your perspective on the game? What is your coaching philosophy?

EB: Becoming a coach is something I studied at University and have practiced all over the world but I will tell you it is extremely different when it comes to coaching a side you use to play for! 

I am currently coaching Defensive Line and I have a great bunch of guys who have responded well to what I have said and are improving every session. I will say it is frustrating at points during games when I want to be out on the field playing when I know I could make the difference. I am very lucky to have a great coaching staff around me who have helped me and worked together to help create a team that is going to be very successful in the future! 

England Legend Terry Butcher
DC: Finally. Your father is the great Terry Butcher of English Soccer fame. How does he view his son taking to a completely different sport to himself? Does he come to watch often?

I have been very lucky to have a father who has supported me through out my life in everything I have done, especially the drinking side, cheers dad! When I was at school I use to get the same question about playing rugby instead of football, my response to the question “why are you not following in your fathers footsteps” was “I’m hurting people, how am I not following in his footsteps”! 

My old man loves watching American football, joining in with drinks and NFL Sunday back in the day when I was under his roof and still asks who is doing well, this year I’m glad to say it’s the 49ers! He has shown up to a couple of games but always found it hard as I played down south and he is stuck all the way up in Inverness!

 He has been lucky to have two sons who have played the sport and both played on successful teams, till this day I will still say my old brother was a hell of a better player than I was but I learnt a lot of him! We all now share ruined knees and the ability to drink like champions through our sporting achievements together and we have always supported each other!

2 comments:

  1. Known and played against Ed for a few years. Never realised who his dad was.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Ed Butcher is the 2nd greatest Redhawk ever ;-)

    ReplyDelete

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