In Loving Memory of


Don Butler

In loving memory of Don “Butty” Butler.  Don sadly passed away on 14th January 2021 taken by COVID-19.

Don’s working career included time in the RAF, time spent as a graphic artist, running Gate Antiques in York, landlord of the Cock & Bottle in Skeldergate and then the Golden Ball in Bishophill, retiring in 2002.

Rugby was his passion with his playing career at York RUFC (playing on Hob Moor in those days) cut short by injury. He organised and managed the York Unicorns who played midweek which obviously suited Don as he worked at the antique shop on Saturdays.  The Unicorns played attractive open rugby and Don’s charismatic personality attracted good players from a variety of clubs across the county.

He held numerous volunteer positions at York RUFC over his 68 year connection with the club. Latterly he was Vice President & Life Member Co-ordinator. He was made a Life Member of the club in 1976 and he was also a Freeman of the City of York.

Don was a kind, warm-hearted, fun-loving, very sociable man always with a positive view of people he met & knew. Two of Don’s sayings were “life’s just a bowl of cherries” and “you’re special, you’re different to all the rest”.

Stories of matches, tours & occasions involving him will continue to be exchanged for many years to come. Our thoughts are with son James & brother Alan for their very sad loss.

Please use this book to share your memories of the wonderful man who touched so many of our lives.


Book Owner: York RUFC Don Butler
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Mark Gronnow

Don truly was one of the greats of York RUFC.  He was one of the first to welcome me into the club.  When taking on the chair role he gave me plenty of advice and tips about the club.  He looked after his VPs like brothers and sisters – and he did always refer …

York RUFC Don Butler

Andy Brown

My memories of Don like many are numerous. My first being the club tour (my first) to Edinburgh in 1979. Stopping on the way up at Dunbar  Rugby Club. After the game I heard my first recital of “Eskimo Nel” (in full) and thinking who is this guy? We hadn’t really been introduced at the …

York RUFC Don Butler

Brenda Pearson

What a wonderful gentleman with a fantastic sense of humour- will be missed by so many but remembered by all who knew him. …


Pete Jones

First met Don in 88 on a sunny Wednesday afternoon in Hull when asked to have a run out for the Unicorns and it went from there. Don was a true gentleman a top character full of fun and humour. Many a good night spent in C&B and Golden Ball enjoying his hospitality. Buttie …

York RUFC Don Butler

Julian Hird

Such happy memories of visits to Straford-upon-Avon to watch Shakespeare, something Don never thought he would like but he was always prepared to try something new – this led to more than 30 annual trips! He looked forward, especially, to post-theatre drinks in the Dirty Duck pub, actor-spotting! Priceless! Monday nights in the Cock …

York RUFC Don Butler

Gerry Dinmore

I was so sorry to hear of the passing of Don and offer my condolences to all family and friends.  I was serving in the RAF at Church Fenton in the early 1960s joined the club recommended by a current player also in the RAF. It was great fun down on Hob Moor though …

York RUFC Don Butler

Dean Robinson.

I first met Don some thirty five years ago, when he refused to take no for an answer, to his requests to play for his beloved Unicorns. I am so glad I did succumb. Thanks Don for all the magical memories you gave me whilst in your company. Especially the nights in the Cock …

York RUFC Don Butler

Mick Press

When I first joined YRUFC Don was an established member of the 1st XV.  He became a very popular and accomplished Captain who led by example on and off the field. I will always remember his faultless renditions of “Eskimo Nell” – nobody did it better! A true gentleman and will be sadly missed …

York RUFC Don Butler


York RUFC was Don’s True Home but he loved Rugby in all its forms, something he inherited from his father. Many years ago a group of us made our annual pilgrimage to Wembley, Rugby League Challenge Cup Final, and on the  preceding Friday it was the Rugby Union Sevens Tournament,  Don came along as …

York RUFC Don Butler

Malton & Norton RUFC

York RUFC Don Butler

Peter Clegg

What a man, what a loss. I never heard Don speak ill of anyone, always positive, always seeing the good in everyone. Condolences to James and Alan, not forgetting his wonderful sister Belinda. RIP Don Peter Clegg  …

York RUFC Don Butler


With love and fond memories. Diana X …

York RUFC Don Butler

Suzie Booth (Robertshaw)

A very sad day but such happy memories of my lovely ‘Buttie’. Life with you certainly was ‘a bowl of cherries!’  Much love to James and Alan. xx …

York RUFC Don Butler

Caz England

RIP Don. Your fantastic humour will live on in James. God Bless xx …

York RUFC Don Butler

Bill Porteous

A gentleman and a character, Don enriched the lives of many of us. I have some wonderful memories of playing with the Unicorns, touring the US, learning the mysteries of spoof, all thanks to Don. He always had a warm welcome and time for a chat and a pint. You will be missed! …

York RUFC Don Butler

Russ Warin

I had the pleasure of meeting Don when I joined York RUFC in 1989. After my 1stXV debut he introduced me to the Cock & Bottle and how to play spoof, that was messy. Don was a great host and gave so much to local rugby. He always had a glint of mischief in …

York RUFC Don Butler

Trevor Charlton

Only recently returned to York after being away for more than forty years. So sorry to hear of Don’s recent death. Don was one of life’s true characters and a great guy to know and be around. I have fond memories of the great end of season games against Unicorns at Malton & Norton …

York RUFC Don Butler

Kevin Johnson

Don, The club will not be the same place without you. You have always been a true gentleman and a pleasure to have known as a customer as well as a friend. For many years now I have valued your “usually” excellent feedback on the guest beers that you loved to indulge in at …

Kevin Johnson

Henry brittain

Don was a classic publican: charming, friendly, humorous and very likeable. I knew him and worked with him for many years and now, although we had drifted apart , I miss him. He had something about him which was hard to put a finger on, something different and attractive. A very good friend. Henry …


James Burdass

Don epitomised what a club should be. A great servant, always so friendly and approachable, and happy to share a word over a beer. I feel fortunate to have turned out in a Unicorns shirt, but also remember those wonderful floodlit occasions at Driffield. What evenings they were! Thank you Don. You will be sorely missed.  …

York RUFC Don Butler

Jack Marshall

 As a young Archies’ schoolboy member of York RUFC Don always gave of his time and offered words of encouragement. I always looked up to him as a hero and this has carried on throughout my life.   Jack (Nipper) Marshall RIP Don …

York RUFC Don Butler

Dave Spanton

What a wonderful charismatic man. Such good memories of Don at the pubs, with the Unicorns, at Clifton park and elsewhere. Due to the spirited nature of post-match celebrations the memories have become a little vague but a very long night at the C&B playing spoof is a standout. Happy times. You will be …

York RUFC Don Butler

Dave Dove

Don Butler – So many memories – playing for the Unicorns, rugby tours (including Jersey!), lock ins at the Black Bull, Escrick and many more – so much fun. It was a pleasure and a priviledge knowing him. …

York RUFC Don Butler

Richard Dealtry

In memory of Don Butler. I first met Don whilst playing in Denis Lacey’s – Captain – York  ‘A’ team at the old YRUF Club House just off Dringhouses Road, in York. That is until I was promoted to the first team – that was from 1955 to 1959  and Don was a constant …

York RUFC Don Butler

Louise Cooper

Donald, I can’t believe you have gone. Ernie’s best friend.Always there at parties and other occasions,singing along with Ernie on trombone. You loved to come over to stay with us in Hull and meet up with Alan and Liz for dinner and we loved having you . Such fun, I made you a birthday …

Louise Cooper