Stillington, County Durham born centre forward Reuben Butler played for Stillington St John’s in 1909, Stockton Amateurs in 1910 and Spennymoor United in 1911 from where he joined First Division Middlesbrough in May 1912, however he didn’t make their first eleven and joined Hartlepools United in 1914, playing for them both sides of World War One. He re-joined Middlesbrough in August 1919 making his Football League debut against Blackburn Rovers that September scoring in a 2-2 draw. His 11 goals in 28 games for ‘Boro made him second top scorer at the club behind George Elliott, and helped ensure mid table respectability.
However in May 1920 he transferred to Oldham Athletic scoring 18 goals in the 1920-21 season when he was the club’s top scorer. In three seasons at Boundary Park he scored 34 goals in 78 appearances, before a move to Bury in July 1923 where he was once again a regular scorer, netting 13 times in 21 appearances. However he lost his place in the first team and didn’t stay at Gigg Lane, joining Bradford City in October 1924. He scored 16 goals in 43 games for The Bantams, with all but one of those goals coming in the 1924-25 season, when he was club’s top goal-scorer scoring nearly half their goals, as City struggled in the bottom half of Division Two.
He joined Crewe Alexandra in March 1926 scoring twice in 11 appearances in a 2 month spell before moving to Rochdale in May 1926. He played only 5 matches for ‘Dale in 1926-27 before joining Accrington Stanley in May 1927, where he was a regular performer scoring 9 goals in 28 appearances before moving to non league Great Harwood the following summer. He also played for Northwich Victoria and Bacup Borough in 1929, and Rossendale United in 1932, returning to Bacup Borough in 1933 before retiring from playing in 1934, already aged 44! He subsequently became Bacup’s manager.
His brother Ernest played for Hartlepools United in the mid 1920’s, and another brother, Stanley, was on the books of West Bromwich Albion immediately before the Second World War, and played for Southport after the War. A cousin was Ernest Butler, Portsmouth’s goalkeeper immediately post war who won the League Championship twice with Pompey in the late 1940’s.