Former Brighton & Hove Albion defender Guy Butters has started his very own blog right here on seagulls.co.uk! Now working for Albion in the Community, No Ifs Or Butts is the former centre-backs amusing look at current footballing affairs of past memories and Seagulls fans can read it exclusively on the club’s official website. First up - as Albion have all but completed pre-season training - the former Spurs man looks back at some of the lighter moments of pre-season during his career.
Pre-season is very different these days, but in the old days you used to get off the plane from your holidays on the day you reported back. I once saw someone turn up in flip-flops and their suitcase in the car – they literally got off the plane that morning and came straight to pre-season training! Nowadays you've got to be fit before you even begin pre-season training.
We would try and lighten the mood to try and get through. When I was at Tottenham we went to Norway and our forward Paul Walsh had long flowing blonde locks, like a little God. On the way out into stadium, someone suddenly produced all of these blonde wigs. There were six of them so we put them on and ran out with our shorts pulled up like Paul Walsh – he wasn't too happy about that.
Another one that spring to mind was when I was at Brighton and we went to France. We linked up with Le Havre and one year, we literally got off the ferry and then we had to go and train. The last thing you want to do once you’ve got off the ferry is go and train!
Mark McGhee was good to us. He used to put a lot of hard work in but always give us a little carrot. If you had to do twenty 200 metres, as you got to the 18th he would say: "If you do the next one in a certain time, I'll bin the rest off." So the carrot was basically a nickname for an incentive.
He used to pick one person to make a certain time, so when we were in Le Havre, he had worked us into the ground. One day we were supposed to do ten 400 metres and we got to seven and he asked us to do one 400 metre run in under 60 seconds in order to avoid the rest. To this day I don't know why but I took one step behind someone to hide and as soon as I did, he saw me move and I had to do the run!
He got all the lads to stand around the cones that they had laid out and to add loads of pressure on top, if you fail then the whole team would be 'punished' by having to complete the remaining runs. Amazingly I did it in 50 seconds! I didn't believe it was right, and of course it wasn't as all the lads had been secretly kicking in the cones to make the course smaller and as a result I literally only ran about 300 metres - but thankfully the gaffer didn't realise.
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We also used to do these runs where you would get into four teams; it would only be a 10-metre sprint. He would tell us to go and the loser of the first group would be relegated, so the next group would go and the winner would be promoted while the loser gets relegated, you see how it goes. After four or five runs, you would get the elite runners in the best group and sort of separate out the slow runners from the fast.
Mark spoke to me before and said he would point his finger at the floor just before he would say go, giving me the slightest head start; I ended up winning all the races... but not one person cottoned on that I was cheating even though I was a slow and fat centre-half!
Paul Gascoigne was always good for a story and I remember on a trip to Norway with Spurs; it was after Italia 90’ so obviously Gazza could do no wrong and people loved him.
I recall on the way back to the hotel after a night out, we met a couple of Norwegians and Gazza made friends with them. We were by a lake then invited them to get on this little boat and said they would head out onto the lake and have a drink out there, but, typical Gazza had a trick up his sleeve.
The two got in and then he whipped the oars out the boat and gave the boat a proper kick to send them out into the lake in the dark. We were falling over ourselves watching these two poor blokes trying to work their way back into shore without any ores! That was Gazza though, anything went with him and nobody was safe, I have plenty of stories about him but some are not repeatable on a family website!