'A great hero': Terry Butcher hailed on return to hometown
- Credit: Mick Howes
School leaders and aspiring youngsters have honoured the achievements of former England football captain Terry Butcher during a return to his hometown.
Boys and girls football teams from six schools in north Suffolk battled it out as The Terry Butcher Cup was competed for on Tuesday afternoon.
With the second annual Active Learning Trust schools football championships keenly contested at Red Oak Primary School, the Ipswich Town legend was back in Lowestoft on school grounds close to where he used to train.
Signing lots of autographs, and encouraging the youngsters throughout, Mr Butcher returned to Red Oak - the former Fen Park Primary School that he had attended in the 1960s - as he presented medals to all participants as well as the two Terry Butcher Cups that were named after him in June last year.
Having been made an honorary life ambassador of the school on Southwell Road last year, the year five and year six pupils from Red Oak, Reydon, Westwood, Grove, Pakefield and Albert Pye primary schools all learnt about how a boy from Lowestoft would go on to captain his country.
After being spotted playing in Lowestoft, Mr Butcher was recommended for a trial at Ipswich Town in August 1976 -- and he never looked back after signing for the club as a 17-year-old.
He would go on to captain his country, playing more than 270 times for Ipswich Town, as well as starring in a trophy laden spell at Rangers.
He was a prominent member of Sir Bobby Robson’s Ipswich side which won the 1981 UEFA Cup and he won 77 England caps in a 10 year international career that featured three World Cups.
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Looking on as the boys and girls from the six schools competed on two pitches, Mr Butcher, 63, also selected the player of the tournament award winners in both the boys and girls sections.
PE and sports co-ordinator Johnny Lee said: "The championships were set up in honour of Terry to remember his achievements.
"We are always really privileged to have him come back to his old school site."
With the national anthem kicking off the event, the England Three Lions flag was raised before both Mr Butcher and Mr Lee gave speeches.
With 30 matches then played, it proved to be really close in both the boys and girls sections -- so much so that just one point separated the top two teams in the girls contest, while the boys competition was "the closest ever" as it was decided by a 'cup final' play off after two schools finished level on points and goal difference.
With gold, silver and bronze medals awarded to the top three schools, participation medals were also presented to all who took part.
As 'We are the Champions' echoed out across the school playing fields the triumphant Reydon girls team collected their medals and trophy from Mr Butcher as a "new name" was engraved on the Terry Butcher Cup.
The cup final between Red Oak and Westwood boys saw the Red Oak boys crowned as the Terry Butcher Cup winners after a 1-0 victory.
Mr Butcher selected Kayla from Reydon Primary and Austin from Red Oak as the respective player of the tournament winners.
In a closing speech, Mr Butcher said: "Well done everybody - that goes out to every boy and girl who took part today.
"You have been outstanding."
'A great hero'
Afterwards, Mr Lee said: "It was wonderful to have Terry return to Red Oak for the annual Terry Butcher Cup schools football tournament.
"It means so much to Red Oak as well as the other ALT schools and our whole local community that Terry takes the time every year to attend this event.
"Terry is a real gentleman and a great hero for our students to look up to.
"We always tell our children that they can achieve anything in life if they put in the hard work and dedication and Terry is a model example of that - we always tell them that a small boy from their area became the captain of England and if he could achieve his dreams then so can they.
"We would like to thank the Ipswich Town Foundation and Terry Butcher for supporting us with this event and we look forward to organising and hosting the 2023 Terry Butcher Cup next year."
Red Oak headteacher Heather Madsen said: "What an honour to welcome Terry back to the school site he once attended.
"We feel so extremely privileged that he continues to demonstrate his support to the local community by attending the annual Terry Butcher Cup held at Red Oak.
"It has been wonderful to see how he uses his enthusiasm and knowledge to encourage the pupils to be resilient, determined and keen footballers."