The Sun newspaper just can’t help themselves can they? Farnborough, Crawley and latterly Sutton United. Whenever a plucky minnow battle their way through to the latter stages of the FA Cup, the Sun bung wedges of money their way to stain shirts with their logo. I’d rather have someone else’s baby sick down my shirt.
Away from their crass robbery of Sutton’s integrity I thought the National League side did very well. Arsenal didn’t like the occasion and Sutton have decent players who knew their job. James Collins and Roarie Deacon really stood out, two players that scored against City earlier in the season. I wonder if Deacon still has Brad’s stud marks on his chest? Preferable to The Sun logo no doubt.
I had a minor gripe around the eighty minute mark when comedy goal keeper Wayne Shaw tucked into a meat pie, but at the time I didn’t think much of it. I suppose I was caught up in the fact we would be travelling to the Emirates, and on their display yesterday we have a chance of springing a surprise.
After the game Paul Doswell had a thinly veiled dig at Lincoln when he described his side as ‘proper non-league, not a League Two side in the National League’. I felt at the time it was an unrequired and ungracious stab at our success when compared to theirs. They’re part-time, Arsenal are a different class to Burnley, nobody was comparing. Only Paul.
As the furore died down and the dust settled it became clear that Wayne Shaw hadn’t just played the role of class clown, but in my eyes he’d sold the National League down the river. I was unaware of the Sun Bet tweet offering odds of 8-1 on him eating a pie during the game, obviously as someone who avoids the Sun and all its nasty incarnations I wouldn’t have seen it. Shaw did though.
He has since defended his actions as banter, but as the commentators laughed their way through the final ten minutes (you wouldn’t see that in the Premier League before a game) he chewed his way through Sutton’s dignity even more than the Sun already had.
The National League is a competitive and entertaining competition, and the last thing it needs is tarnishing as a league full of pub players chomping pies through a game. In front of TV cameras he played into the hands of every one of those elitist top-flight fans who see Sutton, Lincoln and teams like us as nothing more than an amusing story. When idiots like Jason Cundy start slating the involvement of Lincoln City in the FA Cup Quarter Finals, it is because bigger idiots like Wayne Shaw see fit to play the role of court jester and sully all the hard work the likes of Paul Doswell put in.
I had a problem with the Sun when they hijacked the Farnborough and Crawley runs a few years ago, and I would have major issues if they did the same to us. I have it on good authority that if an offer were put to Lincoln City, it simply would not happen. Similarly if a betting company had Jimmy Walker at 8-1 to have a pint during the game, do you think he would? No chance. Nobody on our staff would want to detract from what the players had achieved, nobody would want Lincoln City painted as the comedy clowns.
The FA are investigating Shaw’s actions now, and the FA’s enforcement and intelligence director Richard Watson is taking it very seriously. “Integrity in sport is not a joke and we have opened an investigation to establish exactly what happened.”
He’s quite right to take it seriously, the FA website says: “You are not allowed to pass inside information on to someone else which they use for betting.” If Wayne Shaw told his mates that he would eat a pie, I imagine they’d throw the book at him. Quite rightly so as well, by offering the odds the Sun patronised Shaw, Sutton and the whole non-league game. By eating the pie, Shaw sold himself and his club down the river. His actions showed non-league football in the wrong light. Whereas the talk should be all about our victory and Sutton’ s heroic efforts, it is instead about a fat bloke eating a pie, and a shameless rag offering novelty bets.
Shaw doesn’t see anything wrong though. “I thought I would give them a bit of banter and let’s do it. All the subs were on and we were 2-0 down. It was just a bit of banter for them. It is something to make the occasion as well and you can look back and say it was part of it and we got our ticket money back.”
Perhaps he hang himself a little it with his response when asked whether he knew people who had taken up the bet.
“I think there were a few people. Obviously we are not allowed to bet. I think a few mates and a few of the fans.”
Whether he is in trouble with the FA or not, his actions were moronic, ill-judged and a poor reflection of the rest of us battling in the National League. Whilst the Scum focuses on funny fat men eating pies, I’m just glad the rest of the press are happy with achievements made on the pitch.
Looking back at Paul Doswell’s post-match comments, maybe he was right. The antics of Shaw, the pandering to the gutter press and the behaviour of fans after the game have labelled Sutton as the stereotypical non-league side. However, the National League is made up of seven or eight of these sides, and then 16 or 17 serious football sides with integrity, ambition and professionalism. We’ll show them that in the Quarter Finals, and we won’t have our shirts sullied by that god-awful rag’s logo when we do.