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A Chat With Wayne Shaw: Five Years On From His Famous Pie-Eating Antics In The FA Cup

Jack Kenmare

| Last updated 

A Chat With Wayne Shaw: Five Years On From His Famous Pie-Eating Antics In The FA Cup

"I had a bunch of paparazzi outside my door," recalls Wayne Shaw on the anniversary of pie-gate. "They were trying to get to my wife and children for a story. It was crazy. I was eventually whisked away and put in a hotel for two days."

It has been five years since Shaw was thrust into the limelight for eating a pie live on television during an FA Cup tie.

The story is certainly a well-documented one. Shaw eventually resigned from his post at Sutton United, just days after his stunt led to an investigation by the FA and the Gambling Commission for potentially breaching betting rules, and after a few weeks, his story was rarely spoken about again.

But what happened to the man behind the pie? From biting down on one of the nation's most loved snacks to coming out the other side with a brand new, exciting career venture, the 50-year-old has a remarkable story to tell, so we sat him down for a chat.

Image: Wayne Shaw/Twitter
Image: Wayne Shaw/Twitter

It is a journey that begins on Monday 20 February 2017 at Gander Green Lane in South London.

Non-league Sutton United, a team renowned for giant killings, were pitted against European giants Arsenal in the fifth round of the FA Cup. It was a fairytale occasion for the National League side. They were 105 places below their Premier League opponents and, after beating AFC Wimbledon, Cheltenham and Leeds in the previous rounds, it was a chance to make even more history.

"The atmosphere was unbelievable," Shaw told SPORTbible. "There were so many people from all walks of life, it was brilliant."

It was a busy time for the veteran 'keeper. He wasn't just playing a big role in the changing room but in the days leading up to the clash, Shaw was working non-stop behind the scenes to make sure things were running smoothly. He was even spotted hoovering the dugout as kick-off approached.

But just an hour-and-a-half before the whistle blew, Shaw visited the club doctor to express his concerns.

"Some people don't know this but, I struggle with depression, stress and anxiety and, on the night of the game, I actually visited the club doctor at around 6:30 pm," he tells SPORTbible.

"From when the draw was made, three weeks prior to the game, I didn't actually get a day off. It was a different world with all the publicity and people wanting interviews with the players. It was like a circus.

"So I just said, look, since this draw has been made I haven't been sleeping. I haven't had a day off. I was sorting out the boys' tracksuits, all the kit - plus everyone wanted a replica shirt. I was so busy.

"The doctor then asked me if I was feeling suicidal. I said 'no, not at all.' It was just something totally out of my comfort zone. All the added pressure got too much."

After a chat with the club doctor, Shaw would eventually be named among the substitutes by Sutton manager Paul Doswell, and soon made his way over to the subs bench, where he would watch Arsenal striker Lucas Perez score a 26th minute opener.

In what seemed like an instant, the half-time whistle blew and Shaw had already made his regular trip to the bar area after making a swift exit from the dugout.

Before being stopped for a selfie or two, he was handed a steak pie by a member of staff - or was it a pasty?

"It was actually a pasty," Shaw laughs. "It was completely off the cuff. I went to the bar area at half-time, like I always used to do, even though I was on the subs bench, and asked one of the girls if there were any pies going.

"'No we've only got pasties!' she said. So I wrapped that pasty in my glove towel and came back out for the second half."

Then it all went down in the 83rd minute at Gander Green Lane. After Sutton had used all three substitutes in the game, Shaw emerged from the dugout with a pasty in hand. "And now is the time to get stuck into a pie!" said a BBC commentator as the clip played in slow motion.

"Safe in the knowledge that whatever happens, he won't be coming on. What would Arsene Wenger say? I cannot begin to think what he'd say."

Arsenal may have won 2-0 that night thanks to goals from Perez and Theo Walcott but it was the pie-eating antics of the veteran shot-stopper that grabbed the headlines.

The consequences of his actions would soon emerge after a full-time chat with former Southampton academy teammate Alan Shearer. "I hadn't seen him in a long time," Shaw remembers. "We shook hands and then he said 'there's something going on mush.'

"I just said 'what do you mean?' He asked me if it was part of anything and I just said honestly, I'm not involved. He got in his car and said all the best."

Shaw says he "didn't realise it would go to that scale" and just 24 hours later, he resigned from his role at the National League club.

"After the incident, that bubble of the big occasion burst straight away," he says. "I found myself on my own. I've only had three jobs in my life; I'd been a loyal person, and to all of a sudden being asked to leave the football club; I had to do it the right way.

"I safeguarded the club but looking back, I should have stuck my heels in and said 'no, if you think I've done something wrong, you've got to prove it' - but I didn't."

Shaw's pie-eating antics were now front-page news, especially after his appearance on ITV talk show Good Morning Britain, where host Piers Morgan would produce a kind gesture, just hours after the incident.

"I got on with Piers," Shaw says. "I had a bit of fun with him and chatted about football. To be fair to him, he messaged me and said look, I'll pay the fine. He sent me a cheque for £350 to pay it off."


Shaw's face was all over social media and, outside his home, several reporters were waiting outside his house to grab a story after Sutton manager Paul Doswell appeared on Sky News.

"When the news dropped after the manager made that statement, there were around eight reporters trying to sell a story about me," Shaw says.

"I was soon whisked away and put in a hotel for two days. It was like a dungeon. They put me downstairs and they asked if I wanted something to eat but I couldn't stomach anything.

"I phoned the manager that night, and I mentioned there was something fishy going on. Something wasn't right. He basically turned around to me and said, 'this is your life. You've got to look after yourself.' I was thrown to the wolves. I had nowhere to turn."

For the next three months, Wayne says he picked up around £35,000. It wasn't just from interviews either. He took part in a Chimichanga eating contest, where he eat a big plate of food in around 17 minutes and appeared in a Papa John's advert alongside former referee Dermot Gallagher.

He also travelled over to Sweden to take part in a chat show, as well as other ventures, but Shaw's real passion was in food and beverage.

"Within that time scale, I'd earned enough for a year but after that it dried up," Shaw says.

"I had nothing else, so I sat down with the family and said look, my passion is food and beverage, which has been my entire life along with football. I worked for a family business for 23 years, so I decided to buy a Hog Roast BBQ, while running the commercial side of things at my local side AFC Totton.

"I was selling a few pies, making my own sausage rolls and it was all local produce. It really took off and I've since concentrated on the food side of things."

Image: Wayne Shaw/Twitter
Image: Wayne Shaw/Twitter
Image: Salmon Leap Pub/Google
Image: Salmon Leap Pub/Google

Shaw's food business took off and it ended up with him purchasing the Salmon Leap pub in his hometown of Totton, where he makes homemade pies for customers who fancy a savoury treat.

"It's one of the best pubs in Totten and I'm just privileged to take it on," he told us. "I've probably got 10 years left in the food and beverage game, I'm just trying to earn my own money instead of money for other people."

The big question remains - does Shaw regret what he did on the touchline that day?

"I think everything happens for a reason," he told us. "I wouldn't say I regret it but would I do it again? Not under the circumstances, What was thrown out there was wrong. Good things have come from it, but, would I put my family through it again? No. I didn't realise it would go to that scale.

"It was gutting that I lost a great friend in the manager, Paul Doswell. I'd known him for 30+ years and I've only spoken to him two or three times since. He was upset about the whole situation. He probably thinks I took the limelight away from the club but it was never meant to be that way.

"I went back there and it's always a little bit... I wouldn't go back. I've got friends there who I speak to regularly but it's one of them. I wouldn't go to a Sutton game. It is that little bit of sourness in the mouth. But you live and learn. You find out who your friends are."

Shaw also says he still gets recognised to this day, although he doesn't go out much.

"I've never been one about the limelight and soak it up," he says. "It happened. I'm just a normal person off the street as far as I'm concerned."

Topics: Football, Non League, FA Cup, Arsenal

Jack Kenmare
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