The Last Word: Terry Butcher, the archetypal Englishman, is making waves by the tip of Loch Ness

This is not shoestring, this is a bucket holiday flip-flop budget

They are spotted as often as Jose Mourinho's sense of humility or the Loch Ness monster but, beyond the northern shores of the loch, at the top of the Great Glen that slices through Scotland, one has been located. It is that rarest of current breeds, a successful English manager.

It is fast approaching the rutting season in those parts, when nature compels stags to roar and assert their manliness if, to be blunt, they want to get any. Last Saturday Terry Butcher bellowed his delight as he strode down the tunnel at Celtic Park. His Inverness Caledonian Thistle side had just held the champions to a 2-2 draw to keep their place as Scotland's early-season pacesetters. Tomorrow afternoon they host Hearts as unbeaten league leaders. Butcher may have been consigned by many south of the border to football's history books but the old fires still burn.

Butcher, described on the Football Association's website as the commander-in-chief of England's defence in the 1980s, has not been entirely forgotten back home. In January Barnsley and Doncaster Rovers pursued him. Barnsley offered Championship football, and the chance to double his money. The expectation in Scotland – as well as Yorkshire – was that he would leave; that's what happens in Scottish football. Instead Butcher chose to remain at one of football's chillier outposts – the Caledonian Stadium sits on the shores of the Moray Firth and on winter days there is little to interrupt the attentions of a wind with roots in Siberia. The archetypal Englishman, the man who spent blood in the Three Lions cause, has found an improbable home.

When Butcher first arrived in Scotland in 1986 to play for Rangers it was at the grasping height of Thatcherism and an accompanying wave of anti-Englishness – four years later even Scotland's middle classes folded up the tartan travelling rugs to stand up and boo the National Anthem at Murrayfield. Butcher played for Rangers, the "loyalist" club, a club that outside its support is disliked more strongly within its national locality than any in Britain. He ticked the boxes of reasons to be detested (in that, as Donald Rumsfeld might put it, rational irrationality of the football fan).

But Butcher liked what he saw, and put down roots. When he hung up his boots there was a return south for ultimately unsuccessful managerial roles at Coventry, Sunderland and Brentford. Those southern sojourns seemingly did enough to end his hopes of making a mark in management in his home country and the Englishman went back to Scotland to think again. Four years ago he took the job at Inverness and what he has achieved deserves recognition although, given the beleaguered Scottish domestic game's failure yet to find a title sponsor for the rebranded Premiership, there may not be any manager of the month bauble heading north. This is a small club with a budget that would not cover the laces to do up one of Gareth Bale's boots. This is not shoestring, this is a bucket holiday flip-flop budget.

Last season's average attendance – when the club finished fourth, the highest placing in their history – was around 4,000, on a par with AFC Wimbledon, Exeter and Leyton Orient. Butcher's men won at Celtic Park days before Barcelona were beaten at the same venue. Only a last-day defeat denied them third and a Europa League place.

This season they have started well and should have beaten Celtic again last weekend – they were two up, but Butcher's roar was an acclamation tempered by reality. His side are a mish-mash, trawled from the cast-offs of England's lower reaches. Butcher's chief scout, another Englishman, Steve Marsella, a former Halifax goalkeeper, travels 60,000 miles a year. A Norwegian Under-21 striker released by Brighton and a loanee goalkeeper from Luton (who admits he thought Inverness was somewhere around Glasgow) were among this summer's arrivals.

What Alex Ferguson did at Aberdeen, having worked out his basics at East Stirlingshire and St Mirren, remains pound-for-pound arguably the most impressive part of his CV. Success at lower level, especially in this time of parsimony for those outside the golden cabal at the top of the Premier League, should not be overlooked by clubs higher up the ladder than Barnsley.

The Scottish game reminded its noisy neighbours it is still about at Wembley two weeks ago, even if that reflected how far England have fallen rather than any looming Scottish revival, and within its confines there is an Englishman reminding his own that he has a future as well as a past, even if Scotland would be sorry to see him go.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor