We caught up with former Brighton & Hove Albion defender Guy Butters to discuss that winning goal at Upton Park all those years ago, as well as his return to Tottenham Hotspur’s White Hart Lane in 2005, where it all began for the centre-back.
After joining the Seagulls in 2002, Butters went on to cement his place in the heart of defence, but perhaps his most-remembered Albion highlight came against West Ham United in 2004.
Albion travelled to Upton Park as major underdogs, and few people were prepared for the drama that unfolded…
Butters said, “We were a Dad’s army outfit. We had Steve Claridge on loan, who was probably about 63 at the time!
“There was an illness going around the camp, Danny Cullip was sick in the toilets before the game, which for anyone that’s suffered from a stomach bug, how he managed to play 90 minutes, I don’t know, it was absolutely brilliant from him.
“First 20 minutes they hit the post and it was like the alamo, there were goalmouth scrambles and Michel Kuipers pulled off some great saves. We were half-giggling because we just couldn’t understand how we didn’t concede.
“If we were going to score, it was going to be from a set-piece — Chippy played it forward, Claridge set it back and I remember readjusting my run to free up a couple of yards of space to attack the ball.
“I hung above the defender’s head and thought ‘I’ve got this’. It went in and the celebrations were brilliant. We were in fits of laughter after the game because we just couldn't believe that we’d won.
“My Dad was a West Ham fan, so I think he felt like he’d lost a tenner but found a fiver. They’re the sort of memories you can look back on fondly. If I had a tenner for every fan that told me they had me down as first goalscorer, I’d be rich!”
Moving into 2005 and Albion were drawn against Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur in the third round of the FA Cup — which meant Butters would head back to where he started his professional career.
“I was answering numerous phone calls after the draw was made,” he continued. “Everyone wanted to speak to me about the game and all of my mates came out the woodwork to get tickets!
“I was delighted with the draw but I obviously had to focus on the league games to make sure I was in the team. Charlie Oatway was captain and he said to Mark McGhee ‘is it alright if Guy takes over for the match’, which was a fantastic gesture.
“It was a proud moment for me leading the team out at White Hart Lane, where I started my career. The photo of me and Ledley King with the mascots is also on my wall at home.
“Unfortunately the result didn’t quite go for us, but we gave them a scare. They showed us a bit of respect by playing the likes of Jermain Defoe and Ledley King. It took a wonder strike from Robbie Keane to win the game.
“Mark McGhee bumped into Don Howe after the game, the old Arsenal manager, and he said it was the best example of playing three centre-halves that he’d ever seen, so that was a massive compliment.”