Sutton looking forward to giving Arsenal a traditional non-league welcome in tonight’s eagerly-awaited FA Cup clash live on the BBC
- Credit: PA Wire/PA Images
Sutton United are set to be the perfect non-league hosts to Arsenal’s multimillionaires in the FA Cup tonight – but any boisterous fans attending the game should be aware of the club’s reserve keeper and internet sensation.
Wayne Shaw, Sutton’s community-minded 46-year-old shot stopper, is labelled Britain’s biggest goalie as he weighs in a 20 stones and may have a
heart of gold when combining his netminding duties with work as the club’s disability ambassador.
But the hard-working dad of two – who travels from his home in Southampton to Sutton every day - is not a man to be messed around with.
The global interest in his heavy frame has seen interview requests ions – however, when it becomes personal you can’t always take it. But life goes on.”
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The popular clubman eventually returned to the fold after current chairman Bruce Elliot invited him back in 2014.
The modest Shaw added: “I will be 47 later this year. I still enjoy training with a quality group of lads, but I am just the number two keeper, that is all.”
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He’s looking forward to tonight’s game and believes Arsenal will suffer a culture shock.
With the Gunners playing at Bayern Munich’s state-of–the-art Allianz Arena only four days ago – not to mention suffering a hugely-damaging defeat – this evening’s eagerly-anticipated FA Cup fifth round match, Shaw thinks the game will be a true David vs Goliath-style meeting.
He said: “Arsenal will probably arrive at our ground already changed and go straight out and warm up.
“They see themselves as untouchable. If we can keep it to 0-0 for five minutes we will be doing well.”
Anticipation is growing ahead of the much-awaited fifth-round tie at the Borough Sports Ground – formerly known as Gander Green Lane.
The match-up has captured the country’s imagination as most neutrals will be hoping to see Sutton recreate one of competitions’ most famous giant killings when they knocked out then top-tier Coventry City in 1989.
However Sutton, who play in the National League, were beaten 3-0 at Solihull Motors on Saturday and will be hoping for better form when they
take on Arsene Wenger’s men live on BBC One later.
Managed by Paul Doswell, Sutton beat Championship side Leeds United 1-0 in the fourth round with a penalty from Jamie Collins, to earn
the tie against the Gunners – with thousands of fans queuing in freezing conditions last Sunday for the few remaining highly sought-after tickets.
The 5,013-capacity ground, with 765 seats, has a synthetic 3G surface and no soil, which will be unfamiliar to the players from North London as no
team plays on such a pitch in the Premier League or Football League.
Tony Henderson Smith – aka the Sutton mascot Jenny the Giraffe – believes the gilded Gunners may be in for a culture shock.
Speaking to the BBC he said the communal bath in the changing rooms is now out of action, saying: “We can’t use it anymore because of
health and safety – but I don’t see it as a problem as the holes in the roof will help with the water supply.”