Boro’ boss Steve Evans continued his quest to shape a League One-ready squad in July 2023 with the addition of defender Dan Butler. The left back joined us, not unlike a couple of other lads that summer, from up the road at Peterborough United. Why the move to become Posh reserves? Well, don’t be so cynical for a start. And why not recruit from London Road. They’d reached the League One playoffs in 2023, so you’d do well to think about the experience coming into the ranks at Boro’.
And when you have 300+ Football League outings to your name, you aren’t much of a slouch. For us, Butler (at the time) was a missing piece of the puzzle; someone who could play on the left side of defence and give us an attacking element at the same time. At that time, we had no cover in that position and tongues were a-wagging; the name of previous loanee Saxon Earley on many people’s lips. But the signing of Butler was what we got; the reception being universally positive and welcoming.
Dan Butler: Before Boro’
A native of the Isle of Wight, it’s no shock to hear that Butler’s career started with one of the larger south coast sides. In this case, it was Portsmouth; a club at which he joined as a yoof in 2004 aged 10. In 2010, he signed a two-year scholarship deal – followed by a pro contract when that ended. As a young lad, first team chances did take a while to emerge. He gained some useful experience all the same in 2012 when going on loan to Havant & Waterlooville. There were even some Player of the Month awards to speak of.
Back at Fratton Park in early 2013, Butler made a breakthrough and would end the 2012-3 season with a decent number of League One outings to his name. It wouldn’t quite continue into the following season, however; Butler out on loan to Aldershot Town for a time. That all said, Pompey still had an interest in the player’s future; keeping him under contract until 2015. Weirdly, Butler was a regular in the side throughout the 2014-5 campaign – but he still wound up being released in summer 2015.
Butler stepped down to the National League for his next port of call; joining Torquay United. But he’d be back in the Football League soon enough; snapped up by Newport County in summer 2016. In what now seems like the quirkiest of fates, his first goal for the Exiles came against us. Mind you, we did win the game 3-1. He also spent time under Graham Westley there. At Newport, he experienced the elation of an unlikely escape from the drop – as well as a march to the playoff final. It’s the yin and the yang of it.
Off the field too, Butler made an impact at Dave Parade – twice winning the EFL Player in the Community Award.