All that glitters is not gold, as Sutton United’s reserve keeper discovered
- Credit: PA
Those who lobby manfully for the FA Cup to become, once again, a thing of beauty, will have seen their hard work go to waste as the world-famous trophy's image was once again tarnished.
Pie-gate is a ridiculous consequence of the huge amounts of money that can not only corrupt and stain our game but also give realistic hope to those with genuine, respectable ambitions.
For those who didn't see it, Sutton United's reserve team goalkeeper, a hefty chap by the name of Wayne Shaw, undid a lot of good work by munching on a pie in the dugout during their FA Cup tie at home to Arsenal. Had he just been having a laugh, it would have been just about acceptable. But Sutton ran out with logos advertising 'Sun Betting' on the front of their shirts.
The scenario turned to something rather less tasty: that Shaw was helping out some mates who had taken up the offer of a bookmaker's odds of 8-1 that he would eat a pie on camera during the match. Sun Bets said they paid out a 'five-figure sum' on the bet.
Shaw has been involved in football long enough to know that what he did was not acceptable. I heard one morning TV programme presenter bemoan his ill fortune because 'he's only non-league, he wouldn't have known the FA rules'. A typically uninformed comment borne out of false sympathy – believe you me, players know the rules and suggesting otherwise is an insult to non-league players.
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Sadly for Shaw, he is no longer part of the club, but to put the whole saga into a little starker contrast, it might be easier to compare Sutton United's treatment of a glamour FA Cup tie with that of Lincoln City.
Lincoln played a couple of days earlier, at Burnley, and came away with a 1-0 victory. It was a stunning result. They played in their usual shirts and simply went about their job. Even when they were required for all sorts of media duties before and after the game, anyone associated with the club behaved in exemplary fashion.
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They didn't burn an Imp on the pitch for a bet; they didn't abseil down the Cathedral in full kit – and they didn't have a sponsorship association with the Sun newspaper on their shirts.
Their manager, Danny Cowley, was top drawer in everything he said: no silly predictions, no 'I want Manchester United in the next round' pronouncements.
When an interviewer tried to get him to say Millwall at home would be the perfect draw, he replied by saying that the Lions manager, Neil Harris, was a good friend of his and one of the best in the business. Cowley's head was exactly the same size all the way through. Magnificent.
Contrast that with Sutton, who opted for a slightly different attitude. Whilst Lincoln City behaved in the manner of a side who went out trying to win a game of football, you felt Sutton were quite happy to bank the cash and enjoy a big night out. Perhaps they were being more realistic, but the jingoism doesn't sit well. Their manager, Paul Doswell, practically did a lap of honour BEFORE the game against Arsenal. I would much rather have seen Sutton concentrate on winning. Their team worked extremely hard and did well to restrict Arsenal to a 2-0 win, but were their minds absolutely, 100pc fixed on the game?
The different attitude had different results: Sutton are out, Lincoln still in. And I guarantee that Cowley and his players will be just as professional when they travel to Arsenal in the quarter-finals.
Football riches were also evident on Thursday night when Premier League champions Leicester sacked their manager, Claudio Ranieri.
Ranieri led them to that stupendous success, but this season has been very different and the Foxes are in deep trouble, just one place above the drop zone.
It stinks that he has been sacked, but take the emotion out of it and it is no real surprise.
Such is the reward for playing in the Premier League that owners will risk the wrath of fans and the label of 'premature, disloyal, gobsmacking' (Gary Lineker's words, not mine) in an attempt to ensure they get a share.
Take away Leicester's title win and assume they were mid-table last year. Would you then be surprised at Leicester's decision? Of course not. For a sport that suggests it is all about every game at a time, then football, especially in the top flight, is about every season at a time. And survival. Leicester are not guaranteed survival so the manager has to go.
I'm just amazed there haven't been more Premier League managers sacked.
'Looks like King's Lynn have got a better manager than Norwich City now, then,' said the man at the coffee machine.
It was a cracking line, and I have to say that Ian Culverhouse's appointment as the new manager at The Walks took me by as much surprise as did the decision to sack Gary Setchell the day before.
Setchell is part of the furniture at Lynn and has a strong following of supporters who liked the way he introduced local talent into his team.
The whys and wherefores of his departure aren't for me to dissect, but it's clear he was unhappy. Who wouldn't be? Lynn are 13th in the Southern Premier so not exactly in a world of trouble.
What they have in Culverhouse is a man with bags of experience at a high level, playing and coaching – and, you'd guess, a lot of contacts. And for any disgruntled fans, hiring a man of his stature does show great ambition.
Just put our latest Pink Un Magazine to bed – a job that can lead you off on all sorts of tangents.
My colleague, Chris Wise, wrote a piece about Norfolk-born players who have worn the colours of Norwich City. Spotting the name of Terry Bly I had to help myself to another look at his goal statistics: they are staggering.
He scored 31 in 57 appearances for Norwich, 81 in 88 for Peterborough (including an amazing 54 in Posh's first game in the Football League) and 25 in 32 at Coventry.
Anyway, I digress a little – the magazine will be out in around a week's time and there's some great stuff in it again. Paddy Davitt's state of the City nation, my own bromantic piece on Wes Hoolahan, Chris Goreham on 90 years of sports broadcasting (not him, the Beeb's) and the brilliant Secret Sunday Footballer.
And look out for a piece on my home town Wisbech's special place in football history.