Wigan Athletic Football League players – A to Z – (Rachid Bouaouzan to Lee Butler)

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DOB: 20th February 1984
Other clubs: Sparta Rotterdam, NEC Nijmegen, Helsingborgs
Honours: Holland Under 21’s ( – )

Rachid was new manager, Chris Hutching’s, eighth summer signing. He arrived at the JJB Stadium on 30th August 2007 from Sparta Rotterdam, his only other professional club, and signed a three-year contract. Latics are believed to have beaten FC Utrecht and Bolton Wanderers to his signature and he signed for an undisclosed fee, believed to be in the region of 500,000 euros. He really struggled to get into the squad, but he finally made a competitive start on 26th August 2008 in a Carling Cup second round tie against Notts County at the JJB Stadium. He replaced Kevin Kilbane in the 70th minute of a game that Latics won 4-0.

He left the JJB Stadium on 1st September 2008 on a season long loan to NEC Nijmegen but after several discipline problems he returned to the JJB Stadium in April 2009. He was then loaned to Swedish outfit Helsingborgs on 31st March 2010 where he remained until the end of his Latics contract.  He is currently (July 2012) still plying is trade with the club.

DOB: 30th November 1970
Other clubs: Stoke City, Exeter City, Macclesfield Town, Stafford Rangers

Darren arrived at Springfield Park on 18th January 1991 on a trial basis from Stoke City. He made his Latics League debut the following day at Field Mill where the Blues recorded a 1-1 draw with Darren netting Latics’ winner. He was to play just one more game for Latics and that was the following League encounter against Reading at Elm Park.

He also scored Latics’ goal in that game as well which resulted in a 1-3 defeat. Darren goes down in history as the only player to score in every game that he played for the club! He returned to the Potteries and he was transferred to Exeter City a few months later.

He was last heard of working for the Stoke Council after spending ten seasons in five different league’s for Stafford Rangers!

DOB: 7th December 1963
Other clubs: Tottenham Hotspur, Norwich City, West Ham United, Shimizu SP, Charlton Athletic, Reading, Wales (asst/manager), Birmingham City (asst/manager), Blackburn Rovers (asst manager), Fulham (asst manager), Manchester City (asst manager), Queens Park Rangers (asst manager)
Honours: Wales Under 21’s (3 caps), Wales (41 caps)
UEFA Cup winner 1984 (Tottenham Hotspur)
Division One play off final winner 1998 (Charlton Athletic)

Mark arrived at the JJB Stadium on 6th August 1999 on a week to week contract from Charlton Athletic. He was only used as cover for the troublesome left back spot following an injury to Kevin Sharp and the failure of several trialists to fill the vacant position. Whilst at the JJB Stadium he became the manager of the Welsh U 21’s squad. He made 7+0 League appearances without scoring and left the club to join Reading on 3rd December 1999. He later teamed up with ex Latics manager Steve Bruce as the first team coach of Crystal Palace.

When Bruce left the Eagles to become the manager of Birmingham City Mark joined him at St Andrews in a similar capacity. In August 2004 he left his post at Birmingham to become assistant manager of Wales for Mark Hughes and when Hughes gave up the Welsh job to manage Blackburn Rovers at the start of season 2004/05 Mark followed him to Ewood Park.

Since then he has also followed Hughes to Manchester City, Fulham and Queens Park Rangers!

Did you know – that when Charlton Athletic drew 4-4 against Sunderland in the 1998 Division One play off final at Wembley, Mark scored during the penalty shoot out?

BOYCE, Emmerson
DOB: 24th August 1979
Other clubs: Luton Town, Crystal Palace
Honours: Barbados (4 caps)

Emmerson was signed by Paul Jewell for an undisclosed fee (believed to be around £1.500.000) from Crystal Palace on 31st July 2006. He put pen to paper on a four year deal, teaming up once again with Fitz Hall, who Latics had signed from Palace the previous month. He played his first game for Latics on 2nd August 2006 against Southport at Haig Avenue in a pre season fixture that Latics won 2-0. He made his Latics Premiership debut on 19th August 2006 against Newcastle United at St James’ Park, with Latics going down 1-2.

In March 2008 he was called up to the Barbados squad, making his international debut on 27th of that month. The game was against Dominica in a World Cup pre qualifier which the Barjans won 1-0 in Bridgetown, he has since added to his international appearances.

On 25th February 2012 he became the holder of the record number of Premier League appearances for Latics when he played his 146th game against Aston Villa at the DW Stadium, a game that resulted in a 0-0 draw.

As at the end of season 2011/12 he had made 153+5 Premier League appearances for the Blues during which he had netted seven times.


DOB: 5th November 1947
Other clubs: Earl Sterndale, Rotherham United, Notts County, Stockport County, Bristol Rovers, Kettering Town

Les arrived at Springfield Park during the pre season of the 1981/82 campaign that was to culminate with Latics getting promoted from the Fourth Division under the managership of Larry Lloyd. He made his Latics League debut on 29th August 1981, the opening day of the season, against Bradford City at Valley Parade. The game resulted in a 3-3 draw with Les on the score sheet.

On 12th March 1982 Latics recorded their highest ever away win, at the time, when they hammered Scunthorpe United at the Old Show Ground by 2-7 and Les was to grab a hat trick in the historic encounter. In total he made 57+6 League appearances for the Blues during which he scored 12 League goals.

However, a bad injury sustained whilst at Springfield Park ended the career of one of the most popular players to wear the blue and white stripes of the club. After a loan spel

l with Bristol Rovers for whom he made 1+1 league appearances, netting on his debut, he drifted into non league football. Ironically, he made his non league debut for Kettering Town against Latics in a pre season friendly. He later became the Commercial Manager of Notts County before crossing the river to do the same job for Nottingham Forest.

Les was the fourth winner of the Player of the Year Award that was given out at the end of season 1981/82.

A bit of Les Bradd trivia – did you know that Les is the all time leading goalscorer for Notts County?

DOB: 2nd October 1968
Other clubs: Sheffield Wednesday, Barnsley, Manchester City, Sheffield United, Norwich City, Scunthorpe United, Alfreton Town
Honours: Third Division Championship winner 1998 (Wigan Athletic)
Auto Windscreens Shield winner 1999 (Wigan Athletic)
Unibond First Division championship winner 2003 (Alfreton Town
Derbyshire Senior Cup winner 2003 (Alfreton Town)

Carl, a former England youth international, arrived at Springfield Park as a free agent on 6th October 1997, teaming up once again with John Deehan after playing under the Latics manager at Norwich City. He made his Latics League debut on 18th October 1997 against Luton Town at Springfield Park in a game that resulted in a 1-1 draw. He made 108+11 League appearances and scored 11 League goals for the club. He left the club after being released, with eight other players, by Steve Bruce on 21st May 2001.

By the start of the following season he and his ex Latics team mate Peter Beagrie, signed for Third Division outfit Scunthorpe United.  His last club was Alfreton Town and he retired from the game in May 2005.  He was last heard of working as a bricklayer in Sheffield.

BRANCH, Graham
DOB: 12th February 1972
Other clubs: Heswell Athletic, Tranmere Rovers, Bury, Stockport County, Burnley, Accrington Stanley, Cammell Laird, Colwyn Bay

Graham, the cousin of Michael Branch, arrived at Springfield Park on loan from Tranmere Rovers on 24th December 1997. He made his Latics League debut against Wrexham at the Racecourse Ground and the game resulted in a 2-2 draw. He stayed at the club for a month during which he made 2+1 League appearances without scoring.

He returned to Tranmere Rovers on 24th January 1998 and was signed by Stockport County on a free transfer six months later. He finished his football career at Colwyn Bay in March 2010 due to a severe eye injury.

He is still (October 2012) involved in the game at junior level being the coach of the West Kirkby Panthers.


DOB: 21st July 1981
Other clubs: Ipswich Town, Colchester United, Newcastle United, Sunderland
Honours: England Under 21’s (12 caps)

Titus arrived at the JJB Stadium on Monday 4th June 2007 on a free transfer from Newcastle United. He signed a three-year contract and was new manager, Chris Hutchings’ first ever signing. Hutchings had fought off a large number of Premiership clubs to get his man including Portsmouth, Fulham, Birmingham City and Charlton Athletic. Later in the same day Chris made his second signing, Titus’ former Magpies team mate, Antoine Sibierski!

His first game for the club was on 17th July 2007 whilst the club was on a pre season training camp and the opposition were Dutch Second Division outfit FC Zwolle. Latics ran out 2-0 winners. He made his Premiership debut on the opening day of the 2007/08 season, 11th August 2007, against Everton at Goodison Park, a game that Latics lost 2-1.

Titus’ career blossomed at the DW Stadium and he went on to become one of the best central defenders in the club’s history. As at the end of season 2009/10 his Latics Premiership records stood at 96 games played, during which he has netted five times.  Sadly that was to prove the full extent of his Latics career as he joined former Latics manager Steve Bruce at Sunderland for a fee of a million pounds on 23rd July 2010.

He is also the holder of the 2009/10 Player of the Year Award.

DOB: 15th January 1972
Other clubs: Tranmere Rovers, Manchester City, Norwich City, Dunfermline, Rochdale, Motherwell, Accrington Stanley, Radcliffe Borough, Morecambe, Vauxhall Motors, Burscough
Honours: Caymen Islands (1 cap), Conference Play-Off Final winner 2007 (Morecambe)

Latics manager Bruce Rioch took advantage of a cash crisis at Firs Park and Motherwell had no option but to accept a Latics bid of £175,000 when the player himself could have left the club for nothing by the season’s end anyway. Ged had wanted to return to his native North West for a long time and he arrived at the JJB Stadium on Thursday 15th January 2001. He made his Latics debut, along with another new recruit, Peter Beagrie, in a home League game against Bristol Rovers on 17th January 2001.

By the end of the 2001/02 season he had made 43+3 league appearances without getting on the score sheet in a League game. After making just a further 6 more League starts without scoring he joined Dunfermline on loan from 31st January 2000 until the end of Latics’ Second Division Championship winning season. He was still at the club for the start of season 2003/04 but he couldn’t get back into the team and was loaned to Rochdale for a month on 11th September 2003.

On 25th November 2003 he was transferred to Accrington Stanley on a free transfer. His final tally of Latics League appearances was 52 and he scored 3 League goals. He wound up his professional career at Morecambe and was a key member of the side that won promottion to the Football League in 2006. In December of that year he was about to become assistant manager to ex Latics midfielder Paul Cook but the move never materialised as Cook was sacked!

He was last heard of playing for Burscough.

A bit of Ged Brannan trivia – did you know that Ged is the first player to win play off finals at both the old and new Wembley?

DOB: 24th July 1975
Other clubs: Rotherham United, Chesterfield, Nottingham Forest, Chesterfield
Honours: Auto Windscreens Shield winner 1996 (Rotherham United)
Second Division Championship winner 2003 (Wigan Athletic)
League Two championship winner 2011 (Chesterfield)

Ian signed for the Blues on 24th June 2002 for an undisclosed six figure fee from Chesterfield. He was a vastly experienced central defender often winning the Players Player of the Year award whilst at Saltergate and signed a three-year deal after just two days of talking to Paul Jewell. He played his first game for the club during a pre season tour of Holland. The game, which resulted in a 0-0 draw was against Dutch Premier League outfit RBC Roosendaal.

He didn’t make his Latics League debut until the third game of the 2002/03 season due to an outstanding two match suspension picked up whilst he was still at Saltergate. He came on for the start of the second half of the game against Bristol City at the JJB Stadium on 17th August 2002, a game the Blues won 2-0. By the end of season 2002/03 he had made just 9 League appearances due to the tremendous form of Matt Jackson and Jason De Vos in what was the Blues’ Second Division Championship season. However, during our first season in Division One (2003/04) he was an almost ever present and by the end of the season he had made 50+4 League appearances for the club without scoring.

Ian went down in Latics history by the end of the following season (2004/05) by being a member of the squad that took Latics to the Premiership for the first time in their history. It is interesting to note that Ian was one of EIGHT players who played in the promotion winning game against Reading and the Second Division Championship winning side who played against Barnsley in the final game at the JJB Stadium in 2003. He was surprisingly sold to Nottingham Forest for a fee of £350,000 on 7th July 2005 just a week after his former Latics team mate Nicky Eaden. Ian made 92+4 league appearances for the club without scoring.

He went on to play 145 league games, scoring 12 goals for Nottingham Forest before being released at the end of season 2008/09. He is currently (October 2012) out of the game after finishing his career at Chesterfield.

BROLLY, Richard
DOB: 5th October 1969
Other clubs: Illinois University

Richard was one of manager Bryan Hamilton’s loanee’s during the 1992/93 season that ended in the Blues’ first and only relegation to date (January 2002) and he arrived at Springfield Park on 15th February 1992. He made his Latics League debut on 16th February 1992 against Huddersfield Town. Richard scored the winning goal as the Terriers were beaten 1-0.

His second, and last appearance for the club was against Fulham at Craven Cottage, four days later, a game that resulted in a 0-1 defeat.


DOB: 25th October 1978
Other clubs: Norwich City, Brentford, Peterborough United, Nuneaton Borough, Dagenham and Redbridge, Stevenage Borough, Kidderminster Harriers, Southend United, Wycombe Wanderers, Rushden and Diamonds, Chester City, Boston United, MK Dons, Wrexham, Rotherham United, Lincoln City, AFC Wimbledon, Alfreton Town, Thurrock, Arlesey Town, Darlington

Drewe arrived on loan from Norwich City on 10th August 1997. He made his Latics League debut during as a substitute against Wrexham at Springfield Park, a game that resulted in a 3–2 victory for the Blues. Despite being highly rated by Latics manager John Deehan he only made 2+6 League appearances for the Blues without scoring. On 28th October 1998 he was sold by Norwich City to Brentford in a £100,000 deal.

Later in his career whilst plying his trade with the MK Dons, he was loaned out to Wrexham. A stipulation of the loan deal was that after he had played his first game for Wrexham, he would be allowed to return to the MK Dons to take part in their Johnstone’s Paint Trophy Southern semi-final against Swansea City before returning to the Racecourse Ground to complete his loan oblications. In the event the MK Dons reached the final at Wembley, Drewe scoring from the spot in a penalty shoot out that decided the game!

To date (July 2012), he is plying his trade with Conference National outfit Darlington, his twenty first club!

DOB: 30th December 1947
Other clubs: Preston North End, Stockport County, Macclesfield Town,

John arrived at Springfield Park at the start of Latics’ next to last season in the Northern Premier League (1976/77) from Stockport County and made 69 NPL appearances for the club before turning full time for the Blues’ first season in the Football League. He made his Latics League debut on 19th August 1978 in Latics’ historic first Football League game against Hereford United at Edgar Street which ended in a 0-0 draw. So, John goes down as the first ever Latics Football league goalkeeper and the first one to keep a clean sheet! He played a total of 93 League games and left Springfield Park at the end of season 1981/82 following an injury that finished his career.

On Tuesday 11th May 1982 John was given a testimonial game by Latics. The visitors to Springfield Park on the day were Bolton Wanderers and an appreciative crowd of just over 2,000 saw Latics run out 1-0 winners thanks to a Mark Wignall goal.

He was voted Player of the Year at the end of season 1979/80.  The second player to be handed the prize who had also played non league football for the club.

BROWN, Michael
DOB: 25th January 1977
Other clubs: Manchester City, Hartlepool, Portsmouth, Sheffield United, Tottenham Hotspur, Fulham, Portsmouth, Leeds United
Honours; England Under 21’s (4 caps)

Michael arrived at the JJB Stadium on 31st July 2007 to become manager, Chris Hutchings’ seventh summer signing. He signed a three-year deal with Latics and the fee that Hutchings paid fro him was undisclosed. He made his debut later that evening in a 2-0 win against Barnsley at Oakwell in what was Latics’ fifth pre season game.

He was suspended for the first two games of the season due to a punishment whilst playing for the Cottagers and he made his Latics Premiership debut on 18th August 2007 against Sunderland at the JJB Stadium. He entered the field of play as an 82nd minute substitute for Paul Scharner, with Latics already having won the game 3-0 to go to the top of the Premiership for the first time in the club’s history!

His Latics career total as at the end of season 2008/09 is 44+11 Premiership games played without scoring. After making a further 3 Premier League appearances the following season he signed for Portsmouth on 28th August 2009, with whom he reached that season’s FA Cup final and he currently (July 2012) is plying his trade with Leeds United.

DOB: 4th February 1954
Other clubs: Liverpool, Port Vale, Cleveland Cobras, Stafford Rangers, Oswestry Town, Morecambe, Witton Albion, South Liverpool, Warrington Town (player/manager), Curzon Ashton (manager), Runcorn (manager)

Derek, who now works in the building trade, arrived at Springfield Park in September 1978 from Port Vale. He made his Latics debut as a substitute on 13th September 1978 against Rochdale at Springfield Park. The game resulted in a 3-0 victory for the Blues and was their first as a Football League club. He stayed at the club until the end of the following season when he was released and moved into Non League football with Stafford Rangers.

In total he played 32+16 League games for the Blues, during which time he scored 8 League goals. Derek was Latics’ first ever goal scoring substitute when he scored Latics’ fourth goal in that epic 1979 Good Friday beating of Port Vale at Springfield Park. (Younger fans – Latics were 3-0 down with 25 minutes remaining and won the game 5-3).

His last known post in the game was as the Director of Football at one of his previous clubs, Warrington Town.

DOB: 23rd December 1952
Other clubs: Preston North End, Newcastle United, Rushden and Diamonds
Honours: Scotland Under 23’s (1 cap)

Alex was signed by Harry McNally in August 1983 after he was released by Preston North End. He made his Latics League debut against Plymouth Argyle at Home Park on 27th August 1983, the opening day of the 1983/84 season and the game resulted in a 0-0 draw.

Alex was to stay at Springfield Park for two years and during his last season he coached the reserve team after picking up a serious knee injury that was to end his career. He made 35+8 League appearances for the Blues and he netted 7 League goals in the process, before a knee injury forced him to retire from the game. Alex is currently (July 2012) an operations manager in charge of seven leisure centres in South Ribble.

A bit of Alex Bruce trivia – did you know that Alex first played for the club on 4th May 1978 as a guest (from Preston North End) in a testimonial game for Latics legend Micky Worswick?

BRUNO, Pasquale
DOB: 19th June 1962
Other clubs: Lecce, Como, Juventus, Torino, Fiorentina, Heart of Midlothian, Cowdenbeath
Honours: UEFA CUP winner 1990 (Juventus)
Italian FA Cup winner 1990, 1993 (Torino)
Serie B Championship winner 1994 (Fiorentina)

Pasquale signed for Latics from Scottish outfit Heart of Midlothian on a monthly contract on 9th February 1998. He made his Latics debut against Grimsby Town at Springfield Park on 14th February 1998 a game which the Blues lost 0-3. He was so demoralized at the end of the game that he told John Deehan that he would never play for the club again.

He told the manager that had achieved many things in football and did not want to end his career at Springfield Park. True to his word, that was the only game he ever played for the club.


DOB: 31st August 1960
Other clubs: Preston North End, South Liverpool, Marine, Chorley, Skelmersdale United (manager), Chorley (manager)

Glen was a rising star in the reserve team when Latics were in their final season as a Northern Premier League outfit. He stayed on at the club when they entered the Football League in season 1978/79 but he failed to start a first team game that season. It was during the following season that he made his only League appearance for the club as a substitute on 27th October 1979 against Newport County at Somerton Park.. The game itself resulted in a 2-3 defeat for the Blues. It soon became apparent to Glen that his speciality was coaching and he stayed on at Springfield Park coaching youngsters up until the end of the 1984/85 season when he became heavily involved in the game at Non League level with Skelmersdale United.

Glen was in fact the last of the famous Non League contingent to leave the club, an honour usually erroneously given to Peter Houghton. He is currently (October 2012) the New York State Director of Youth Coaching in America

DOB: 16th November 1975
Other clubs: Honved, Charleroi, Cardoba, Walsall, Xerez CD, SV Salzburg, Royal Antwerp, Union Royal Namur
Honours: Hungary, (1 cap), Hungary Under 21’s (2 caps)

Gabor was signed on a match to match basis on 6th August 2001 after being released by Walsall. He scored in Latics’ last pre season friendly in a home game against Everton the following day as Latics lost 1-6. He made his Latics League debut on 11th August 2001, the opening day of the season, at the JJB stadium against Brentford in a game that resulted in a 1-1 draw.

However, he never showed up at the team’s hotel in Brighton for their following League game and never played for the club again. Ironically manager Paul Jewell was going to offer him a contract after the Brighton game. Latics held on to his playing registration and in early December 2001 he re surfaced in Austria and contacted the club in order that he could play for SV Salzburg after the Austrian winter break. He was last heard of (2006) playing for Union Royale Namur in Belgium.

DOB: 9th June 1982
Other clubs: Gravesend and Northfleet, Peterborough United, Fulham, Hull City, Ipswich Town, MK Dons
Honours: Second Division Championship winner 2003 (Wigan Athletic)

Jimmy started his career at Gravesend and North Fleet for whom he signed on 1st August 1998. He was spotted by scouts from West Ham United and on 9th February 1999 he joined the Upton Park side. However, he never made it into the first team and on 10th May 2001 he signed for Peterborough United. Whilst at London Road he made he made 64+2 League appearances, netting 11 times.

He was rated in the £1m bracket when Paul Jewell attempted to sign him in September 2002 but the boss bided his time and waited until 31st January 2003 to get his man for a knockdown price of £275,000 due to Peterborough’s financial troubles. Jimmy made his Latics League debut the following day against Cheltenham Town at the JJB Stadium, a game that resulted in a 0-0 draw.

He became a firm crowd favourite and by the end of season 2004/05 he had made 109+0 consecutive League appearances for Latics and scored 6 League goals. Jimmy goes down in history as a member of the squad that took Latics into the Premiership for the first time in the club’s history. It is interesting to note that Jimmy was one of EIGHT players who played in the promotion winning game against Reading and the Second Division Championship winning side who played against Barnsley in the final game at the JJB Stadium in 2003.

He signed a new three-year contract prior to season 2005/06. The Premiership suited Jimmy down to the ground and he played all 35+1 league games before being signed by Fulham on 28th April 2006. The Cottagers manager Chris Coleman had discovered a clause in Jimmy’s contract and activated it leaving Latics with no choice but to let Jimmy go.

He left the JJB Stadium with a unique record of having played in every single league game that Latics played whilst he was on the clubs books. His Latics career consisted of 144+1 league appearances and 9 league goals. He was also a member of the team that appeared in the clubs first major Cup Final, a 0-4 defeat at the hands of Manchester United in the Carling Cup Final.

Whilst at Fulham he picked up a horror injury that eventually forced him to retire from the game whilst plying his trade at MK Dons in October 2012 following torrid times at Hull City and Ipswich Town.

Some Jimmy Bullard trivia – did you know that Jimmy is eligible to play for Germany should he receive a call up?

DOB: 18th August 1980
Other clubs: Celtic, Birmingham City, Ipswich Town, Portsmouth, Dundee, Sheffield Wednesday, Rotherham United, Heart of Midlothian, Dunfermline, Rotherham United, Kilmarnock, Enosis Neon Paralimni, Esan United
Honours: Scotland Under 21’s (15 caps), Scotland (6 caps), Scottish Premier League Championship winner 2000 (Celtic), First Division Championship winner 2003 (Portsmouth)

Mark started his career as a junior at Celtic and he signed his first professional contract for the Bhouys on 3rd June 1997. He made a total of 50 League appearances and scored 20 League goals whilst at Parkhead. He had a three month loan spell at Birmingham City which commenced on 22nd September 2000 and he scored 4 League goals in 13 League appearances before another loan move to Ipswich Town on 20th February 2001. During his three months at Portman Road he made 7 League appearances and scored once.

On 24th August 2001 Portsmouth signed him from Celtic in a £900,000 deal despite stiff competition from Latics who were also eager to sign him. He had made 24 League appearances and scored 8 League goals for Pompey and played 11 League games, scoring once, for Dundee in a loan deal which commenced on 31st January 2003 before joining Latics on a one-month loan deal on 20th August 2003. He made his Latics League debut on 23rd August 2003 against Burnley at Turf Moor. Latics won the game 2-0 and it was quite a historic occasion as it was the first game Latics ever won in the First Division.

However he made just 4 League appearances, (3 as a substitute) in total for Latics before returning to Portsmouth on Monday 22nd September 2003. He is currently (October 2012) plying his trade in Thailand at EsanUnited.

A bit of Mark Burchill trivia – did you know that Mark holds the record of scoring the fastest hat trick in a European match? He achieved this playing for Celtic against Jeunesse Esch of Luxembourg in 2000.

DOB: 7th February 1962
Other clubs: Burscough, Prescot Cables, Stoke City, Stalybridge Celtic
Honours: Autoglass Trophy winner 1992 (Stoke City)
Second Division championship winner 1993 (Stoke City)
Third Division championship winner 1996 (Wigan Athletic)

John was spotted by Harry McNally playing for Prescot Cables and Latics signed him on 15th January 1982. He made his Latics League debut on 24th April 1982 against Rochdale at Springfield Park, a game that resulted in a 1-1 draw. This was to be his only appearance that season, in which incidentally, Latics won their first ever Football league promotion under Larry Lloyd.

From the following season onwards he was a virtual ever present in the team during which time he made 238+7 League appearances during which he netted 15 League goals He left Springfield Park on 23rd December 1988 and signed for Stoke City for a fee of £75,000 at a time when Latics were selling all their outstanding talent in a bid to pay off crippling debts. After seven years at the Victoria Ground he returned to Latics on 17th June 1995 and he played a further 51+3 League games for the Blues, scoring once.

John was voted the club’s Player of the Year at the end of season 1983/84.  He was the sixth player to ever win the award.

A bit of John Butler trivia – did you know that ‘Spider’ played in every single position (including goalkeeper) whilst at Springfield Park?  He had a seven minute stint between the sticks against Bury in a Freight Rover Trophy encounter on 2nd April 1985 following an injury picked up by Roy Tunks.

DOB: 30th May 1966
Other clubs: Haworth Colliery, Lincoln City, Boston United, Aston Villa, Hull City, Barnsley, Scunthorpe United, Dunfermline Athletic, Halifax Town, Doncaster Rovers. Halifax Town (goalkeeping coach), Alfreton Town

Lee was signed by John Deehan from Barnsley at the start of the 1996/97 season as a replacement for Simon Farnworth. He made his Latics League debut on the opening day of the 1996/97 season, 17th August 1996, against Northampton Town which the Blues won 2-1 to record their first ever opening day victory at Springfield Park as a Football League club. He made a total of 63 League appearances between the sticks before being deposed as the club’s number one goalkeeper by Roy Carroll.

He left Latics to join Scottish Premier League side Dunfermline Athletic at the end of the 1998/99 League campaign. By the start of season 2002/2003 he had retired and became the goalkeeping coach at Halifax Town. He spent the following season at Alfreton To

wn before returning to the New Shay to resume his goalkeeping coach duties 12 months later.

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