Stevie Buttle: Heart of the NASL Sounders

I just can’t seem to stop calling Steve Buttle “Stevie.” That’s the way it was back then, in the late 1970’s as the slight, talented midfielder created goals for the Sounders, and that’s the way it is today, now having heard of his death at the age of 59.

by David Falk

Stevie Buttle used to run, and run and then run some more up the middle for the Seattle Sounders. He often tugged at his long-sleeved jersey with both hands, tucking the cuffs up into his palms as he finessed his way around NASL opponents. Buttle was there for the biggest moments of the 1970’s Sounders: the win before 57,000 fans at the Kingdome that put the Sounders into Soccer Bowl ’77, and then of course the Final itself, where Buttle was nearly a hero. His late try on goal hit metal in Seattle’s 2:1 loss to Pele and the fabled New York Cosmos.

“He was all heart and soul,”  Alan Hinton, who coached the NASL Sounders from 1980-82, told the Seattle Times. “He wasn’t a big guy and had a wonky left knee. You wouldn’t have thought he could play at all the way he strolled onto the field at the introductions, but as soon as the game started, he probably had the fastest brain on the field.”

What I will remember most about Stevie is his heart, his drive. No one who has ever put on the Seattle shirt has wanted it as much as Stevie. He had to use talent, desire, intellegence and trickiness to overcome a small stature and slight frame. He was a series of twigs patched together and gloriously running around the Kingdome pitch, never stopping, always creating…winning the hearts of Sounders fans.

We might have had more talented players back then, or even now, but we never had anyone as important to putting honor behind the badge as Stevie Buttle was. He will always be remembered.

Steve Buttle wiki
Steve “Wonder” Buttle (from Norwich to Seattle)

Steve Buttle, Soccer Bowl ’77. (Scott Butner)
Steve Buttle feature. Click to enlarge.
Buttle (middle) at a fan picnic, 1979. (Jenni Conner)
Buttle on the break, 1977 pre-season. (Scott Butner)
Head down, fingers pointing the way. (Scott Butner)

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