Having just been selected in the Mackay City team of century, it is no surprise of the modesty with which he talks about his achievement. While no doubt a part of the fabulous five, he is clearly the most underrated and spoken of, quietly going about what is asked of him week in, week out, and although rarely sighted in the backline, shapes as a key part of Ricky Sullivan’s premiership plans. This weeks “10 minutes with Guesty guest”, is Chris “Mini” Butcher.
From: Mackay City Hawks
So Chris, how did you become hooked on football?
For me it started at an early age playing with my older brother and his mates. I first started playing “mini’s U13, at 8 years old. Growing up in a small country town as a kid all you have is your sport to really look forward too.
What’s your football journey been like?
I played all my junior football up until I was 15 when I decided to give the game away and concentrate on my golf. I then took up playing footy again at 19 playing for the Greenacres Dragons in the Division 2 comp in Adelaide for two years. I had a short stint with Gepps Cross Rams in 2003 before relocating to Mackay. I played in Mackay from 2004 to 2011, captaining the team for 5 years. Played 3 grand finals and finally winning my first premiership in 2011. I played in every rep game while in Mackay and represented the NQ Stockman's side in 2004. I was lucky enough to win B&F for my club and 3 Player of the Year awards for the league. In 2012 we made the decision to relocate to Townsville and have been very fortunate to play in every grand final with the club since then winning 2
What’s been your greatest moment?
Your first grand final win is someone that you will always remember. In 2011 we went the entire year undefeated with our closest margin being 21 points. When the siren finally went it was like a heavyweight had come off my shoulders and I had finally led our guys to the premiership. The club had gone 11 years without a premiership, which was the longest time in the clubs history.
And to keep some symmetry, what's been your worst?
2012 tearing my hamstring 8 games into the season, not being able to get it right until the final series that year and having no real impact in the grand final. If grand final losses don’t hurt then you’re not human.
You’ve got some of the best hands in Townsville. How did you get to the stage of having such a safe pair of mitts?
I use to spend a lot of times playing various sports (footy, cricket, basketball) with my older brother and his mates growing up as a kid, which seemed to accelerate my development and be used to balls coming into my hands a lot harder and faster.
I’m intrigued, both as a teammate and as a journalist, about your nickname “Mini”. What’s the story with it?
Growing up I was the smallest kid in my class by a long way and a runt so it was the name given to me from an early age. I was called “Skip” by my teammates in Mackay when I took over the captaincy in 2006 and when I come to the Bulldogs and Cecil got me up in front of the group I had already met Skip and knew how much of a club legend he was so I went with Mini only to hear the boys say “not another one”.
Of the “Fabulous five”, you’ve got a coach (Sullivan), a goal kicking full forward (Sanson) and the two backline Marshal’s (Black and Hollis). Would it be fair to say, of the lot, you’d be described as “Mr Fix It”? Filling a position when the side needs it?
Yes, I have done that a lot since coming to the club, but anyone of those guys can do the same. One of the best things you can learn playing football is you don’t have to play in your best position to make a large contribution to the team. A team of individuals will only get so far, but a team of mates playing for each other can do anything.
You play in a side where you’ve got three teammates who can double their age and still be younger than you. Does this have any impact on you?
I love seeing the development in young guys playing the game, and I like to think that I have a small involvement in moulding them into the players they will be in the future, which is exciting for me and is a reason I am still playing. Also help make me feel young.
You were recently named to the Mackay City Hawks team of the century, a tremendous achievement. Does this allow you to lay claim to being the greatest Hawk of all time in front of names like Leigh Matthews and Michael Tuck?
Ha, no chance. Leigh Matthews is the best player to ever play this game and Michael Tuck was one of the toughest.
You might’ve only played under one, but as a lifelong Demon’s supporter, who’s the better coach, Tony Burke or Mark Neeld?
As a coach it would have to be Mark Neeld. Burkey was a great player manager by his own accord.
Due to the durability of your hamstrings, there are whisperings that some of the boys call you “Strings of Steel” behind your back. Can you confirm or deny any of these whisperings and if so, have you traced the source?
First I have heard of it and it wouldn’t be any of the guys who played in 2012 who knew the issues I went through. So I am going with some of the younger brigade. Possibly Bucket, Danger or yourself.
With 100 games for the Hawks, and the century not too far off at the Bulldogs, there must be a time where a conversation about which club Carter and Dallas play at occurs, and if they’re anything like their father, it’s sure to be intense. How do you envision this going down?
The boys will play for whatever is the local team when they grow up. I'm sure if we stay in Townsville the boys will get to play with the Sanson and Hollis boys, plus be very protective of little Sedona Black.
You’ve marked the ball directly in front of goal 45 metres out. David Black is all by himself in the goal square with his closest opponent the man on the mark. You’re down by 2 points in the dying minutes of a grand final. What do you do?
Being 45 out I would be having a shot knowing that Blacky will shepherd the ball through and let me take all the glory. NOT. It would pain me but I would chip it over to the glory hound DBlack7.
What’s the best training habit anyone can develop?
Come to training every night with a plan for what you need to work on. You should always be your hardest critic after a game and pick out a couple of things to work on during the week. You don’t improve otherwise, especially those small forward that don’t kick on their opposite foot!
Thanks for your time Chris (has already gone back to work)