Even Gui Guojie came to appreciate Johnny Butcher.
From Page 29 of Andrew Hunter's book Port Adelaide to Shanghai - Taking Australia's game to the world.
Interestingly, he also immediately understood the game, which is uncommon for those who were not raised watching the sport. When, 20 minutes into the second quarter, Port Adelaide's enigmatic crowd favourite John Butcher rose above the pack to take a spectacular mark, the crowd - including Gui - rose as one. Throughout his career, Butcher had struggled with set shot conversion and he had already missed at least three shots at goal that day.
As the crowd settled, I saw Gui speaking to his translator alongside him and I asked what he said. 'I don't know why everyone is excited,' came the response. 'he will miss the goals anyway ...' within an hour of his first ever game, Gui understood the game and the tendencies of the players. Ironically, the maligned Butcher kicked the goal from 50 metres out at an angle, drawing a euphoric response from his teammates and the crowd.
It was hard not to warm to Gui. Tactile, particularly when compared to most Chinese, he had an infectious smile and loved to hug.
I hope Gui got to give Butch a hug before he left Port.