Players that made an Era

As football fans, we sometimes forget how important a particular transfer is, we find ourselves get lost amogunst the success or disappointment of the players spell. In this series I aim to pick out one particular player from each Rangers manager in my lifetime, and the overall importance of that transfer and why.

I start this series with a player from the Graeme Souness era. This was not a difficult one for me as in my humble view, and by some distance the most important signing during his tenure was without question, Terry Butcher.

Younger readers might well be scratching their heads at this pick, mainly down to the fact that since his playing days have drawn to a close Butcher has become something of a joke figure, his role as a pundit or co-commentator is at best cringe worthy, filling the airwaves with dad or in house jokes that are neither funny nor witty. He has also on many occasions been less than complementary about Rangers, however it is his role as a player, and player only I am viewing this.

Butcher was a fantastic defender, being the rock in the centre of Bobby Robson’s UEFA cup-winning Ipswich side of 1981. However by 1986 Bobby Robson was long gone leaving to manage England, and Ipswich had been relegated from the top flight.

Upon arrival at Rangers, Souness was on the look out for not only a player who would improve the team defensively, but who’s very presence would change the mentality of the dressing room, a winner and none fitted the bill more than the England captain Terry Butcher.

The last game Butcher played before moving to Scotland, and Rangers is one I’m sure every football fan can point to having seen, one of the most famous games to have ever been played, ‘the hand of God game’, quarter-final of the 1986 World Cup finals, England vs Argentina.

Meeting the England captain off the flight home, new fitted suit in hand for the centre half, was Rangers new player-manager Souness.

This move was to set in motion a chain of events that would set Rangers on a path to start winning titles again. Butcher would take on the mantle of Rangers captain with ease, in fact had Butcher not broke his leg in 1987 it’s fair to suggest 10 in a row would have been all but secured.

In his time in Scotland he captained Rangers to three titles in four seasons, a dramatic upturn of events from the early 80s.

In the end Butcher left Rangers an all too familiar way back then, after an argument with then-boss Souness. Butcher was famously dropped from a semi-final meeting with Celtic. Accused of being unfit and overweight, the final straw for Souness came when Butcher was blamed for his role in a defeat at Tannadice against Dundee United, this included an own goal, and was the last we ever seen him in the famous light blue.

Butcher, is also responsible for the portrait of the queen that now hangs over the dressing room door at Ibrox. Replacing the one that previously hung with one from his own mothers collection.

If only he was half the pundit he was player, then we the public, wouldn’t have to be subjected to his bad puns and his talk about anything but the game he’s watching, style he’s made his signature.

He is in my mind still the most important signing in the Souness era and I can make a case for recent history as well.

Tell me if you feel the same or not.

Steven Harrigan
@steven_harrigan