Guy Butters: My Portsmouth regret over infamous Sunderland handball

Guy Butters blames it on the impetuosity of youth.

Wednesday, 24th April 2019, 4:34 pm
Updated Wednesday, 24th April 2019, 4:43 pm
Guy Butters suffered Pompey agony when Jim Smith's side visited Sunderland in May 1993

When Alan Knight punched out Gary Owers' cross on 36 minutes, it fell invitingly to Gordon Armstrong.

The midfielder’s goal-bound lob was subsequently palmed off the line by Butters.

It set in motion a 4-1 Blues defeat, a May 1993 outcome which cost Jim Smith’s side automatic promotion to the Premier League.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Guy Butters suffered Pompey agony when Jim Smith's side visited Sunderland in May 1993

Butters earned a red card for his indiscretion, while Paul Walsh was also later dismissed in that Roker Park encounter.

Now, 26 years later, Kenny Jackett’s in-form side are to head to the Stadium of Light.

Defeat would condemn them to the play-offs, as it did Butters and his team-mates.

The former central defender said: ‘I was a bit young, a bit impetuous, full of bravado.

‘You think you are bulletproof when you are 23 and, in hindsight, when you are a bit older and a bit more experienced I would have dealt with it differently.

‘Knightsie punched it and didn’t make a great connection, so it was put back in. As a defender, your natural instinct is to not concede, you have to try to do something.

‘Before you know it, I stuck out a hand and saved it. Literally a quarter of a yard closer and and I would have headed it.

‘Click your fingers, that’s how quickly you have to make a decision. It was the wrong decision.

‘I think it would have been a tough task going up there and winning anyway, but for nine men it wasn’t going to happen.

‘We should still have won in the play-offs against Leicester, it was an offside goal.

‘Mind you, I've seen a YouTube clip and the commentator and the caption were wrong – they called me ‘Gary’ Butters. So technically it wasn’t me!

‘Besides, I always blame Knightsie, he should have punched it further.’

Despite winning their final match, Smith’s side were beaten to second place through goals scored.

They then lost out 3-2 on aggregate to Leicester in those 1992-93 play-offs.

Butters added: ‘Jackett's men have beaten Sunderland twice this season.

‘It’s a perfect example of having cool heads, relax, stay in the game for as long as you can

‘Keep plugging away, keep believing in yourself, you never know what could happen.’