Arsenal accused of stealing pie trophy
It should have been a moment for celebration. After an agonising seven-year trophy drought, Arsenal had finally won something – by topping the Football Pie League.
But the awards ceremony in Brighton descended into acrimony on Friday when the club’s official caterers went off with the gong – despite the fact the hard-won victory was all down to a Highbury couple selling gourmet pies from their front garden.
Paul Campbell, 47 and his wife Nicky, 39, have become a popular matchday fixture this year with their Piebury Corner stand in Gillespie Road, which sells award-winning pastries named after Gunners greats.
Their fans lodged the lion’s share of the 8,500 votes that saw Arsenal win the league, beating out stiff competition from Chelsea and Brighton and Hove Albion, so they expected to pick up the prize.
Mr Campbell said: “We went up to collect the award and we were all standing on the stage together, but the caterers took it. I said ‘that’s our trophy’, but they said it’s got to go back to Arsenal.”
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The Emirates caterers were at the ceremony for a different award altogether and had no idea the pie prize even existed until it was announced, yet they refused to give it to the Campbells.
The Piebury Corner faithful were outraged – with hordes taking to Twitter and Facebook to vent their frustration, some accusing caterers Delaware North of “pie-jacking”.
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But the row cooled when the organisers issued a statement on Tuesday to say Piebury Corner will be handed a replica trophy at the beginning of next season.
Speaking to the Gazette, organiser Denis Sheehan accepted that the win was all down to the couple, but insisted the competition was always for clubs rather than individual sellers.
While he said it was always clear people were voting for Arsenal, he praised the contribution of Piebury Corner. “It’s right the caterers took the trophy as they were representing Arsenal,” he added. “But it’s down to Piebury Corner that Arsenal won. Arsenal should be pretty pleased with Piebury that they have won something.”
Mr Campbell added: “It was a bit of a mix-up and we’re laughing about it now. We just hope the trophy will persuade van Persie to stay.”