Wayne Shaw woke up yesterday morning with a glint in his eye. Later that night, the 45-year-old second-string goalkeeper of Sutton United knew he would see his side knocked out of the FA Cup by twelve-time winners Arsenal and still they’d celebrate it like a win.
Sutton, sat squat in the fifth-division of English football, had a remarkable run that captured the beloved Magic of the Cup that was once lost – a night that was given a fitting end thanks to Shaw scoffing a pasty on the bench in the 82nd minute. The Magic of the Cup! It was here! Once lost, now found! Shaw ate pie to wash away modern football’s sins.
On the final whistle, the crowd stormed the pitch like promotion was secured and Shaw was the club's husky talisman: a larger-than-life character, he went out there with our hopes and dreams stretched around his midriff, just a regular bloke in a XXL goalkeeper kit who seemed to lap his new-found fame up like a dog at a pond. His happy little face, we all said. His happy little face. Have your five minutes, Wayne. Enjoy your free pints of mild for life.
And then clouds gathered, voices hushed. People stopped dead, beer in pipes went bad. Sutton’s piece of glory’s pie grew claggy and soft, and pastry fell apart in its hands. All that was left was spoiled brown meat, juice, mess; the viscera of crime: Shaw had fucked this all up. The silly bastard.
The devil’s pie. Not content simply with fleeting renown and fame, Shaw cashed in and struck a deal with The Sun to eat a pie on the bench. He would now be investigated by the FA on gambling charges. He brought the game into disrepute, and shame on his team, shame on the manager who had stuck by him through thick and thin.
“It’s been very disappointing,” admitted Paul Doswell to the Guardian. “I woke up this morning to this storm of criticism and it’s something that we have dealt with quickly as a club. Wayne himself has offered his resignation to the chairman and it’s been accepted. There were tears down the phone this afternoon. It’s a very sad end to what was a very good story.”
This was a team that thought they could do no wrong: the plucky locals drawn to shoot their best shot against Arsene’s Metropolitan elite. They were always supposed to lose this game, but the light shone on the team would offer a welcome cash injection to a club who so desperately needed it. And then The Sun came knocking, gold coins in its purse too shiny for Sutton’s management to ignore, and ruined it all, saving an extra gold coin for Shaw to sell-out the rest of his mates.
He took his shot and missed, his banter spun around the rim of the net and dropped out. Now he’s been effectively sacked by the club, strong-armed into a stained resignation in-front of the watching world. He’s sorry, because of course he’s sorry. He didn’t know this would happen, because none of us did. Each of us were tricked, for a golden, fleeting moment, into thinking everything was right in the world.
Now he’s out of his job, with the Independent reporting that Morrisons are “keen to add the 23-stone goalkeeper to their ‘Pie Tasting’ team and has made quite the offer: a year’s worth of pies.”
Morrisons’ Chief Pie Buyer Tessa Callaghan said: “We’re always looking for the best talent to taste our pies and make sure they hit the back of the net.
“Wayne’s performance last night sets him apart as one of the country’s most famous pie connoisseurs.
“We were really impressed by his commitment to pie eating, and we understand that a good pie is the best way to warm up for any occasion, even if it is the biggest night of your football career."
Now his corporeal appetite for food has been parlayed into a carnal lust for money; no longer a cult hero, he is The Pie Tsar: the red, friendly face of corporate greed. Catch Shaw at the end of the season, shirt off and eyes hollow, attempting to save pie-shaped footballs from going into his goal-sized oven in the car-park of the big Morrisons on Carshalton Road. Nobody’s turned up, and one of the shelf-stackers has to keep taking pie-penalties until Shaw’s quota is met. The keeper’s knees are black and bloody, his heart cold and hard like dried fat. He used to play for Southampton, you know. Yeah, up-front with Shearer. Then he ate that pie live on the BBC.
This is a story of banter turned sour, the day when football finally lost the last of its purity. Nothing in this world can last, least of all a part-time goalkeeper coach eating a meat-filled pastry for money.
(Main Image: Rex Features)