Terry Pierce - Macclesfield mourn yet again

11 January 2011 09:30
Macclesfield Town has once again been struck by tragedy and, once more, I'm sitting down to write a blog about a young man losing his life.

Ten months after the Silkmen's then-manager Keith Alexander passed away, midfielder Richard Butcher died in his sleep on Sunday night and the small Cheshire club is again mourning the loss of a valued member of staff.

Butcher was just 29 and suffered from no known illnesses. Very little is known of his death so far, but the shocking, out-of-the-blue nature of his passing has merely compounded the grief and despair felt at Macclesfield Town and across the Football League.

Butcher was very close to Alexander, with the latter signing him for the fifth time - initially on loan - in February last year. In fact, Alexander is said to have given Butcher a lift home the evening before the former Lincoln and Peterborough boss passed away. And now, tragically, their deaths will be forever entwined, just like their careers were.

Like Alexander, Butcher was somewhat of a lower league journey-man. Having initially come to the fore at Kettering Town, Butcher enjoyed two spells at Lincoln City as well as turning out for Peterborough, Oldham and Notts County before joining Town on a two-year contract in the summer.

And fans, former team-mates and other figures across the Football League have been quick to pay tribute to the midfielder. Macclesfield chairman Mike Rance said Butcher was a model professional and a thoroughly likeable young man, while message boards and fan websites have been inundated with messages from supporters across the world.

Butcher made almost 300 first-team appearances and scored in what turned out to be his final game, the 2-2 draw at Bury on New Year's Day. No matter how great the loss to football his passing may be, it is his family and friends with whom all thoughts should be with. He tragically leaves a young wife just five months after tying the knot, and he had recently started studying at Manchester Metropolitan University in preparation for end of his playing career.

Unfortunately paying tribute to a football player following an untimely passing has become far too common in the past year. Exeter's Adam Stansfield lost his battle with cancer last summer and Rushden & Diamonds goalkeeper Dale Roberts took his own life just two weeks before Christmas. And while every story of someone passing away is deeply saddening, seeing three fit, young men right at the heart of their clubs, families and communities lose their lives when they should have had so much more to give and enjoy is truly gut-wrenching.

Football has the ability to connect people. We empathise with the stories of games being postponed an hour before kick-off, or the tales of 500-mile round trips, cold Tuesday nights and terrible performances.

As fans - especially in the lower leagues - we celebrate together, we laugh together and we rant together. And now, once more, as football fans, we must mourn together for the passing of another remarkable young man.

Follow Terry on Twitter @telpierce

Source: DSG

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