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Feature interview: Danny Butterfield on his time at Exeter City

28 September 2016


Feature interview: Danny Butterfield on his time at Exeter City

28 September 2016

Butts: It's been an enjoyable stay and I wish Exeter City all the success for the future

Player-coach Danny Butterfield left Exeter City on Saturday to take up a coaching role with the academy at his former club Southampton. 

Since joining City in September 2013, Danny has become a popular member of the dressing room at St James Park, played nearly 80 games for the Grecians and passed on a wealth of knowledge to some of the young players who have come through the ranks in recent seasons. Simon Larkins caught up the former Crystal Palace full-back before he departed to ask him to reflect on his three years at City.

Question: Hello Danny, you are set to leave Exeter City after Saturday’s game with Stevenage. How will you look back at your time at the club?

Danny: Enjoyable. I can honestly say I signed for Exeter at a time of my career where it was about enjoying football. It was about enjoying coming to work every day. It was about enjoying training every day and, most importantly, giving as much as could every single day for this club to benefit the players and benefit the manager and try and be successful.

Q: You signed for Exeter City at the end of September 2013. What were your first impressions of the club?

Danny: I liked the setup. I liked the training ground. I liked the fact that it was a club where everyone who supports the club pulls in the right direction. I think it is a great set of lads who are working hard for each other every single day and a manager who gives people the license to go and play and express themselves.

Q: You said you signed for Exeter City at a time in your career when you wanted to enjoy your football again was that something you sensed would happen when you first came to the club?

Danny: Yes, I think the fact that Exeter play a more attractive style of football which suits my style of play if you like helped. We have a manager who likes his team to get the ball down and pass it and I wouldn’t have enjoyed going to a League Two club where we just crash the ball to the front and I’m there to head it at the back. 

Q: What can you remember of your first season?

Danny: My first memories was perhaps the Devon derby where we won 3-1 at home. That was a feeling that we could be successful. There was a feeling that the fans get behind the team and I felt we were on the road at that point to having a successful season. It was still a tough season for us, but something I even feel today that the club is inches away from being successful.

Q: It was quite a tough first season though, was it the togetherness of the team that helped you through that campaign?

Danny: I think the financial struggles, the embargo and not being able to sign people was tough. I think I remember it being written in the press that it was the senior players letting down the youngsters and it was the youngsters who were the ones that were keeping the club afloat. That is tough to take sometimes as a senior player when you know things are actually different behind closed doors and everyone is pulling in the right direction no matter what age you are. I remember the vibes we were getting in the press was that the fans were disgruntled with the senior players and ultimately it is those players that you rely on. So, it was tough times, but we stuck together as a group, we stuck together as a squad of players and – through the difficult times now – we are in a position where things are rosier. We have had some good cup runs to benefit the club financially as well as the sales of players who were playing in those tough times.

Q: The start of the following season was the pre-season trip to Brazil. That must have been an amazing experience?

Danny: It was a big part of the history for the football club, which was great to be part of. I’m sure there won’t be many Exeter City players who have the privilege of travelling to Brazil on a pre-season trip, so that was great to be part of. It was certainly team-bonding because at times it was challenging over there for the lads, but it is something that brought us all together for the start of the season, with a squad mixed of younger and senior players, that we all fighting for a shirt to be playing on a regular basis.

Q: In the second season it was one where City over-achieved when you consider the resources the club had, but it was also one where they had a slow start. What were the keys to turning that season around?

Danny: I think the thing that Tis has is that he can be relaxed in realizing that it is a long season. It is a 46-game season and three or four dodgy results don’t influence the whole outcome of the campaign. That was a message that was put out at the time ‘that our season will click, we will continue to get results and we will turn it around and be as a successful as we can be’. But it was the patience from the manager, that had that influence on the players and we did manage to turn things around. Unfortunately, though we came up short at the end of that season.

Q: Was it at the end of the second season that you moved into the player-coaching role?

Danny: Yes, that was another big step. I remember the very first day that I met Tis though and he discussed where he saw things going in the future and what my ambitions were. Coaching was mentioned, but I never thought I would become the first team coach at Exeter within a couple of years of signing for the club. It is something I enjoy and I hope that I have contributed to help Tis and the players both the lads in the first team and the ones coming up through the academy. 

Q: It was in the second season that you started helping out with the coaching of the under-18s.

Danny: Yes, I used to come in on Wednesday on my day off and work with Lee Skyrme to learn my trade as it was, but also to benefit the youngsters. It can only be a beneficial thing for someone who is in and around the first team to pass on that information of what is required at first team level. 

Q: What do you think the keys are to being a good coach?

Danny: I think you need to be knowledgeable. You need to have a passion for working with people and improving people. You need to understand the game. You need to set standards by which everyone has to adhere to and you have to have a love for the game. You have to be really passionate about the game as you are working alongside people who really share that passion to get the best out of each individual.

Q: Is it a coaching role you see yourself in long-term or could you see yourself being a manager of a football club?

Danny: I would never say never. I am at the point in my career now where I enjoy the coaching, but I certainly won’t close the door in years to come to be a manager somewhere. That doesn’t necessarily need to be a first team manager it could be the manager of an academy side as well, but ultimately I’m hungry to be the best coach I can be and to learn more and to develop as an individual to make sure those things happen.

Q: You are moving to a nice part of the country in Hampshire, but I suppose you are going to miss East Devon and all the people here when you leave.

Danny: Yes, although I see this job as a great opportunity for me as an individual, it is sad times as well for the family because we have met a lot of great people in East Devon. However, I do think that your true friends stay with you and I will be staying in contact with people from Devon and I certainly won’t lose contact with Exeter City because it has been a big part of my life for the last three years. I truly wish Exeter all the success which I do believe they will get this season.


BEST DRESSED: Paul Tisdale, smart. Mike Radford, smart casual.



BIGGEST MOANER: David Noble, past squad. Current squad, I’ve not seen enough of him yet but that could be Reuben Reid.


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