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A tribute to Gary Button - 21 years reporting on the Trawlerboys

3 months ago By Sean Galea-Pace

The voice of Gary Button is one that most fans across Norfolk and Suffolk will be very familiar with.

After covering 569 Lowestoft Town matches for The Beach radio station, 203 matches for Radio Suffolk and 99 fixtures for Radio Norfolk; it’s fair to say Gary has seen it all. Promotions, cup runs and relegations. A Wembley final, managerial changes and new signings. And that’s not even scratching the surface.

Gary has been a supporter of Lowestoft Town Football Club since the age of 10. The first match that he attended was the 3-1 home defeat to Ipswich Town on 14th May 1974. Gary regularly began following the club and going to all home matches three years later in 1977 and saw the 2-0 loss to Cambridge United in November 1977. A short stint following Ipswich Town followed for Gary but he was always interested in Lowestoft’s results and before long was back in the Crown Meadow stands.

Gary’s career covering Lowestoft Town began in 1996 with The Beach and he continued with the radio station until coverage was dropped after the FA Vase Final in 2008. However, Gary did return to Beach coverage for Lowestoft Town’s first round FA Cup tie against Wrexham in 2009 which the Trawlerboys’ unfortunately lost 1-0. In August 2009, Gary began working with BBC Radio Norfolk and Suffolk and provides goal updates as well as half-time and full-time analysis, in addition to post-match reaction with the Lowestoft Town manager. As well as roles with East Anglia’s radio stations, Gary has also covered Lowestoft matches for BBC Radio Hereford, Worcester, Coventry and Warwickshire when the club were competing in the Vanarama League. It’s fair to say that Gary’s reports have been eagerly listened to by fans all over the country.

In 21 years of broadcasting, Gary has worked at 51 different venues including covering local cricket for nine years whilst at The Beach. These days, Gary can be found in the Press Box on match-days and remains as passionate as ever about his beloved Blues.

Most dramatic matches covered?
Semi Final FA Vase (2nd Leg) – Whitley Bay 3-0 Lowestoft Town (3-4 aggregate, 29th March 2008)
“It was an awful afternoon weather wise and I was right in the thick of it reporting as I couldn’t get a phone signal at the time. We were 3-0 down after about 20 minutes and Lowestoft had won the first leg 4-0 and we managed to hold on. There was great celebrations on the pitch with everyone hugging each other and singing “Lowestoft Town are going to Wembley!”

FA Vase Final 2008 (Wembley) – Kirkham & Westgate 2-1 Lowestoft Town (11th May 2008)
“It was a brilliant occasion for the club, a real occasion for the fans after a lot of years when their fortunes were really down and that particular season was fantastic. It was a really hot afternoon and Lowestoft went 1-0 up after 11 minutes through an own goal and we thought Lowestoft Town are going to do it but a substitute for Kirkham & Westgate came on and turned the match on its head and we lost the match. But from a personal point of view, I was in the Press Box at Wembley and reporting wise was a fantastic day but it was just the wrong result.

What’s your most memorable interview?
In attempting to interview Robert Fleck, the former Norwich City and Chelsea player who was the manager of Gorleston at the time, after a 4-0 win over Sudbury used expletives when asked to stop for an interview.
“I was a bit eager to speak to Robert after the match and he was then walking off the pitch as I had a tape recorder and a microphone in my hands. I said “Robert, can you give me a couple of words for The Beach?” and his answer I couldn’t repeat on air! But I found it funny and he did come back later and give me a proper interview I could take to the radio.”

Is there anything you’d change in 21 years of working in radio?
“Sometimes, better communication. There’s been times when I’ve done a couple of interviews and things haven’t been recorded. Equipment-wise it was pretty basic in 1996 when I started to these days and now you have websites and phones at the ready to help you. I still believe there are certain clubs that could give you more information than they do, especially at top level football. There is this guard now when you just can’t get access to players, it’s not the case here at Lowestoft Town but there is this stronghold now that prevents the top media from getting to players.”

Any tips for any aspiring Journalists trying to break into the industry?
“You’ve got to be very dedicated and do your homework. It’s a difficult business. There are courses you can go on and you have to get some qualifications behind you. In my case, Beach Radio were operating in the town and I just knocked on the door and I was lucky because I was invited in and shown around the place. I loved the town and loved the club and I asked about their plans for local football and the answer was to come back and see them. A few days later, I went back and they gave me a mobile phone and said to give them updates of what’s happening. I was thrown in the deep end. That was in the October and by the end of November, I was involved with putting together an hour-long Friday show to preview all the matches. Within a year or so, the man chap left so that worked in my favour as I took on his responsibilities on a part-time basis. Things can work for you but you’ve really got to work at it and be in the right place at the right time.”

Favourite XI?
Andy Reynolds, Paul Hartle, Micky Shade, Gary McGuire, Adam Smith, Stew Reynolds, Lubo Guentchev, Doug Evans, Stevie Parker, Micky Chapman, Mick Money.

A final word…
“I must give a big thank you in my 21 years of covering Lowestoft Town to secretary Terry Lynes. I always pick his brains on the club’s history with facts and figures. His help makes my job so much easier every match.”

I would like to thank Gary Button for his time and for sharing his experiences with me. Through Lowestoft Town’s greatest years and darkest times, Gary has reported on it all and it was a pleasure to talk about his interesting career following the Trawlerboys through the seasons.

Updated 12:40 - 30 Jan 2018 by Sean Galea-Pace

Where next?

Where are they now? - Carl Poppy Danny Cook caught up with former Blues full-back Carl Poppy, who made his Lowestoft debut at the age of sixteen.
Where are they now? – Danny Bloomfield Danny Cook caught up with former Blues forward Danny Bloomfield who joined the club in early 2010 and enjoyed just under a year at the club.

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