Andy Butler on coaching Doncaster Rovers’ next generation and the ‘harsh reality’ of football

Andy Butler
Andy Butler

Andy Butler is beginning to experience the harsh realities of football from the other side.

As he continues to forge on with an evergreen playing career, he is now involved in delivering hammerblows to the hopes and aspirations of those just starting out in the game.

In his coaching role with Doncaster Rovers’ Under 16 age group, Butler is involved in determining which youngsters will progress onto scholarships and which will be shown the door.

And the process of informing those with no future at the club of their fates is not something he finds easy.

“It’s my first time doing the 16s,” Butler told the Free Press.

“Unfortunately, in football you can’t take everyone on.

“I’ve had to sit in meetings where we’ve released players and it’s my first experience of doing it.

“To see that side is quite difficult. you see how much is means to them because they burst into tears.”

Butler went through the same thing himself with Rovers, experiencing rejection from his hometown club in his early teens.

And he recalls some rather harsh treatment as the time for the awarding of scholarships approached at Scunthorpe United.

“I remember when I had my meeting with Paul Wilson when I was a 16-year-old at Scunthorpe," he said.

“Me and my friend Richard Hawcroft, who passed away a couple of years ago, we want in together.

“Paul said ‘I’ve got some good news and bad news. The good news is Richard you’ve got a scholarship, the bad news is Andy, you’ve got to play for six weeks and every week a new centre half will come in and if he’s better than you, you’ll go and he’ll stay.’

“Luckily I stayed.

“I’ve been in that position before and I know how much it means to people and to see their faces when you tell them no, it’s pretty hard to take.

“Football is harsh. If someone is better than you, they take your place.”

Though showing little sign of slowing down on the pitch, Butler is stepping up his progression towards a career off it.

Progressing through the age groups at Rovers with his coaching, Butler is taking on increased responsibility – and enjoying every minute.

“Kieran Scarff and all the Academy staff have been brilliant,” he said.

“I’ve learned a lot through Shane Pallett, DonCotton, Tony Mee, Tony Cook, Don McKinner, John Buckley – I could name them all.

“They’ve all helped me so much through my last few years of coaching.

“I started with the Under 12s and they’re now 14 or 15 so to see the progression from where they’ve gone to where they are now is brilliant.

“We’ve got a lot of good players there.

“The future is looking good for Doncaster Rovers.”