Large boy Wayne Shaw, the backup goalkeeper for fifth-division Sutton United, has inevitably become a meme over the course of his team’s cinderella run to the fifth round of the FA Cup, which pits teams from up and down the league pyramid, and leads to wonderful, silly matchups like yesterday: Big, bad Arsenal traveling to Sutton’s 5,013-seat “stadium.” Arsenal won 2-0, but all eyes were on the big guy.
[Update: Shaw has resigned from Sutton United. See below.]
Shaw is 46 years old, weighs anywhere between 280 and 322 pounds (depending on who you ask), used to work as an ice cream man, and now serves as stadium caretaker and goalkeeping coach, and because this isn’t the sort of ritzy operation where Sutton can hire two people, he also dons his kit and serves as the team’s backup goalkeeper.
Things have gone horribly wrong if Shaw ever sees the pitch, but that doesn’t mean he’s not working. Here he is vacuuming, in sandals, to get Arsenal’s dugout nice and clean for their arrival:
And here he is, uh, hanging out at the bar during half-time.
And here is he eating a pie with about 10 minutes left in the match:
That was just delightful. It also might be a little problem. One betting company was offering 8/1 odds that cameras would capture Shaw eating a pie during the match (a joke bet, but with a very real payout). Shaw admitted he was aware of the wager, and that some of his friends had taken it.
“A few of the lads said to me earlier on: ‘What is going on with the 8-1 about eating a pie?’ I said: ‘I don’t know, I’ve eaten nothing all day, so I might give it a go later on,’” he said. “Sun Bets had us at 8-1 to eat a pie. 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.
“I went and got it at half time from the kitchen, I had it all prepared and ready to go. It was meat and potato,” added Shaw.
Asked if he knew anyone had backed the bet, he replied: “I think there were a few people. Obviously we are not allowed to bet. I think a few of the mates and a few of the fans.
“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.”
On the one hand, this has the potential to be a pretty textbook gambling violation if Shaw instructed his friends to place the bets, or ate the pie specifically to get the bet to pay off. The country’s Gambling Commission announced it has launched an investigation into the pie-eating incident, though any potential discipline there would fall upon the bookmaker and not Shaw. The FA will handle any actions against Shaw, because this could be against their rules too.
FA rules say players should not “instruct, permit, cause or enable” any person to bet the “result, progress, conduct or any other aspect of, or occurrence in, a football match or competition.”
Players are also not allowed to give others insider details “any information relating to football” which has been “obtained by virtue of his or her position within the game.”
On the other hand: Let the big man eat. (It was reportedly only a five-figure payout, too.)
It’s been quite the week for Shaw, who launched his own chili sauce—named “Wayne Shaw’s Heat Up The Arse’n ’Alls”—with proceeds going to cancer research. Arsenal also offered to donate £50,000 to Shaw’s charitable efforts.
But Sutton chairman Bruce Elliott said the club will do what it can to make sure Shaw doesn’t get a big head.
“If you knew the roly-poly goalkeeper you probably wouldn’t be very surprised. But Wayne is a top man. I didn’t know anything about it. He has got himself in the papers again and the fame obviously has gone to his head a little bit, but we will soon bring him back down to earth, don’t worry about that.”
Update, 11:02 a.m. EST: Following the controversy over the pie-fixing scandal, Shaw has offered his resignation to the club chairman—apparently after being asked—and it has been accepted.