A frosty January morning saw hundreds of players and supporters from the local amateur and semi-professional football scene descend on Bradley Stoke Community School (BSCS) for a series of games being held to raise funds for the family of Darren Butt, widely known as ‘Butty’.
The event, on Sunday 19th January, was staged just two weeks after Darren, 40, had tragically lost his life in a multiple-vehicle collision on the M32 motorway.
A hugely popular figure in local football circles, Darren was well known for his sense of humour, outlandish dress sense and wacky hairstyles.
Over a period spanning more than 20 years, he played for many local clubs, including Patchway Town FC, Hallen AFC, Patchway North End FC and, most recently, Stokeside FC, where he was club captain. He also held the position of reserve team manager at Hallen AFC.
As a schoolboy, he played for Swindon Town FC and is said to have come close to making the England squad.
Off the field, he was well known as a café manager, and was for a while involved with the former Café Lounge in Pear Tree Road, Bradley Stoke (now Vee’s Kitchen). More recently, he ran Redcliffe’s café in Bristol.
Simon Strachan, a stalwart at Patchway Town FC who knew Darren for many years, told the Journal:
“He was very popular in the clubhouse after games and always had an amusing story to tell. He could find fun in most people and was the life and soul of the party.”
“He often wore brightly coloured and patterned shirts and was always very ‘out there’ with his hairstyles, whether it be Mohican or having it dyed in multiple colours.”
Following the crash, friends established an online fundraising page to benefit Darren’s family and the amount donated in this way is currently over £11,000.
The memorial match at BSCS consisted of two games: The first between ‘select XI’ teams nominally representing Patchway Town FC and Hallen AFC XI and the second between representatives of Little Stoke FC and Stokeside FC. With so many wanting to play, a system of rolling substitutions was used, with every player donating £10 to Darren’s fund.
After the on-pitch activity, the players and supporters moved on to enjoy a buffet and drinks at a packed Patchway Sports & Social Club, where further fundraising activities included an auction and a raffle.
The organiser of the two events reports that more than £13,000 was raised on the day.
Darren’s memory was also honoured at the start of many local league games in the days following his death through the staging of a minute’s silence before kick-off.
Photos: 1 Applause from players in the Patchway Town FC XI. 2 Archive shot of Darren Butt in a Hallen AFC shirt with captain’s armband. 3 A large crowd watches the match at BSCS.
This article originally appeared in the February 2020 issue of the Bradley Stoke Journal magazine (on pages 20 & 21). The magazine is delivered FREE, nine times a year, to ALL 8,700 homes in Bradley Stoke. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.
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