The FA Cup has provided British footballers with underdog opportunities for more than a century. The tournament accepts 736 clubs across all leagues in Britain, not just the Premier League, going as deep as the tenth division. In this year's competition, the 136th FA Cup, a star was born.
Wayne Shaw, 280-pound backup goalkeeper for fifth-tier Sutton United, became a living legend with conflicting reports about his age (45 or 46). With Sutton making a Cinderella run to the fifth round of the FA Cup, the club hosted Premier League power Arsenal on Monday. In the lead-up to the game, the world got to know the lovable Shaw, who is now embroiled in a betting scandal.
He is ... the most interesting man in the fifth division.
His nickname is "Roly Poly Goalie"
— Men in Blazers (@MenInBlazers) February 15, 2017
That's really his nickname. Apparently, he didn't make it up, but according to the Daily Mail, he is happy to embrace the name "if it means Sutton getting attention."
Sutton fans have adopted the chant, "He's fat, he's round, he's worth a million pounds!"
He's also the goalkeeping coach
SPOTTED: Preparations underway at Sutton United, as goalkeeper Wayne Shaw is genuinely hoovering the dugouts. pic.twitter.com/qpHq9o9lRB
— SPORF (@Sporf) February 20, 2017
Playing in the fifth tier means expenses are tight, so Shaw is the backup goalie more based on convenience than skill. Along with being the goalkeeping coach, he is also "tackler of multiple other odd-jobs in between, from caretaker of their plastic pitch to live in community liason officer."
He was an ice cream man
Shaw has worked for Sutton on three occasions since 2011, also spending two stints with Eastleigh and Gosport Borough, although he did not play a match with either of those two clubs. Before working in soccer, Shaw worked in the ice cream business.
"I used to work for my uncle for about 23 years as an ice cream man but stopped not so long ago so I could just work here," Shaw says.
He was a striker for Southampton in his youth
Alan Shearer talking about Sutton Utd reserve keeper Wayne Shaw pic.twitter.com/V80bdPuqtu
— Pie Sports Booze (@piesportsbooze) February 20, 2017
Shaw claims to have spent time as junior with a team affiliated with Southampton, a current Premier League club. He says he played as a striker with Alan Shearer, a long-time Premier League star and member of the England National Football Team.
"I followed my dreams to the Premier League, he followed his dreams to the burger van," Shearer says.
Well, look who's talking now.
He's been asked to pose nude
"One publication asked if they can photograph me naked. Like everything off except a pair of goalie gloves."
- Sutton keeper Wayne Shaw. pic.twitter.com/7Jp12kKM69
— Football__Tweet (@Football__Tweet) February 20, 2017
You knew this was coming.
"A publication asked if they can photograph me naked," Shaw says. "Like, everything off, except a pair of goalie gloves, apparently. They said they'll position me in a way that covers me up, if you know what I mean.
"Not sure what I'll say to them. It's definitely the strangest thing that's happened to me in all this."
Wayne Shaw, coming to a newsstand near you.
He sleeps on the stadium couch three nights a week
When Shaw turns off the field lights, he's also shutting off his own lamp.
"I live down in the south so I come up here to the stadium to work Monday to Wednesday and then train on Thursday before going back home," he says.
"I have to turn off the floodlights each night at about 10pm so I sleep here on the couch on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Not sure if that's the case for the Arsenal boys — I'll ask them."
He did not play against Arsenal on Monday
Courtesy of a blind draw, Sutton had the privilege of hosting Arsenal. For reference, Sutton plays in a 5,013-seat venue while Arsenal plays in front of 60,432 at Emirates Stadium in London. Arssenal won the match 2-0, and Shaw did not come off the bench.
But he did go to the bar at halftime
I kid you not. Sutton reserve keeper Wayne Shaw is in the bar at half-time. pic.twitter.com/f7014pXRBP
— Chris Slegg (@ChrisSlegg) February 20, 2017
And he ate a meat pie in the second half
— SteveBloomersWashing (@SBW_DCFC) February 20, 2017
How amazing is this? Shaw is absolutely embracing his reputation.
The meat pie stunt led to an investigation by the Football Association and Gambling Commission
Both the Football Association and the Gambling Commission are investigating Sutton United goalkeeper Wayne Shaw's pie-eating incident. pic.twitter.com/GLF20s57fB
— Sangalo (@SangaloFootball) February 21, 2017
Uh oh. It turns out odds were set a 8-1 to that Shaw would eat a pie during the match. He did exactly that, knowing the betting line, but claims he did not place a bet.
"A few of the lads said to me earlier on: 'What is going on with the 8-1 about eating a pie?'" Shaw says. "I said: 'I don't know, I've eaten nothing all day, so I might give it a go later on.' 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."
Shaw is not used to the spotlight and this is a complete no-no for professional athletes. Even if he was joking, it is an uphill battling with the sports betting world.
Shaw is resigning
— Jeff Eisenband (@JeffEisenband) February 21, 2017
We wish this story had a happy ending. We wish it had a cherry on top. We really do.
On Tuesday, Shaw resigned from his job with Sutton, which of course includes being the backup goalkeeper.
"It's been very disappointing,” Sutton manager Paul Doswell says. "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."
Well, at least he can still score that nude modeling deal.
Life came at Wayne Shaw fast. pic.twitter.com/Y2zRmVRtvp
— Bleacher Report UK (@br_uk) February 21, 2017
P.S. In the midst of all this, Shaw was somehow on Good Morning Britain with Piers Morgan
I support you, Wayne Shaw. What has football come to when a loyal club servant's sacked for a fun pie stunt? Absurd. pic.twitter.com/zhwE4zS8ZS
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) February 21, 2017
Shaw is a free agent, so ...
Put him in the Pelicans' front court.
— Jeff Eisenband (@JeffEisenband) February 21, 2017