'A true icon': England legend unveils sports hall at former school
- Credit: Mick Howes
There were cheers, loud applause and lots of goals as former England football captain Terry Butcher returned to his hometown.
The Ipswich Town legend was back in Lowestoft to rename a sports hall on school grounds close to where he used to hone his skills.
The Terry Butcher Hall was unveiled at Red Oak Primary School - the former Fen Park Primary that Mr Butcher had attended in the 1960s.
During a special presentation on Thursday, June 24 Mr Butcher was made an honorary life ambassador of the school on Southwell Road, before he unveiled a plaque at the sports hall which has been named after him.
He also unveiled two new trophies - the Terry Butcher Cups - that have also been named after him and will be presented to the victorious Year 6 children at an annual football tournament involving Active Learning Trust schools across North Suffolk each year.
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It came just days after the dominant defender had been inducted into the National Football Museum Hall of Fame.
After being spotted playing in Lowestoft, Mr Butcher was recommended for a trial at Ipswich Town and after impressing in August 1976, he never looked back after signing for the club as a 17-year-old.
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The 62-year-old, who would go on to captain his country, played more than 270 times for Ipswich Town, as well as starring in a trophy laden spell at Rangers.
Mr Butcher 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 ten-year international career that featured three World Cups.
He now coaches at Portman Road, assisting Kieron Dyer with Ipswich’s Under 23s.
Fondly recalling his time in Lowestoft, Mr Butcher pointed out the areas he grew up in - living on St Aubyn's Rd and then Carlton Road, while being regularly found playing football on Fen Park, on the beach or on the concrete playground at school.
In the 1960s Terry Butcher would head down to Crown Meadow with his father to watch Lowestoft Town dominate the Eastern Counties Football League.
Mr Butcher said: "Crown Meadow, Lowestoft Grammar School, Ashley boys club, Fen Park, Normanston park pitch one – this is where I learnt my football.
"Jumpers for goalposts, kicking stones around the playground - or a tennis ball if we were lucky - seeing the facilities today across Lowestoft, it is incredible."
Looking on as boys and girls in year six from five schools across Lowestoft and Reydon battled it out in the Terry Butcher Cups, Mr Butcher said: "They all love football.
"There are great facilities and opportunities here in the town - for me the two best facilities to play on growing up was Fen Park and the beach.
"Lowestoft is a great area for football and it is very nice to be asked back.
"It is a real honour for me, seeing my former school over there and it is important to come to places like this."
There was even a chance to have a look back at the old attendance records and register from 1968/69 as Mr Butcher and his sister Vanda returned to their former school.
Describing it as a "very important event" at Red Oak, headteacher Heather Madsen said: "On behalf of the Active Learning Trust we are so honoured to welcome Terry Butcher to help with the renaming of our sports hall - The Terry Butcher Hall."
PE and sports co-ordinator Johnny Lee admitted it was "a real honour" to have "a former captain of England" and Fen Park pupil returning to town.
Mr Lee said: "Terry Butcher is a true sporting icon and our students and staff were so excited to see him return to his old school.
"Our students have been learning about his achievements and they were inspired to learn that an England captain went to the same school as them.
"We really wanted to honour Terry for everything that he has done for our country so we named our school sports hall after him as well as renaming the North Suffolk Schools' ALT Football Championships; The Terry Butcher Cup.
"We would like to thank Ipswich Town FC for helping our school to arrange this momentous event, which will go down in our school's history.
"Terry's legacy at our school will never be forgotten."