SUTTON UNITED already know how they are going to spend some of their FA Cup windfall – stopping their players getting soaked during their team talk!
Gander Green Lane may boast a modern new pitch, but their dressing rooms, it’s fair to say, are a little on the archaic side. There’s nothing wrong with a traditional Non-League box room, of course.
The players of Leeds United, more used to the creature comforts of Elland Road, won’t know what’s hit them in the fourth round when they come to town on Saturday.
But the Sutton players certainly know what’s been hitting them lately – rain, mostly. Plus a few leaves and twigs thanks to a gaping hole in the home team’s changing room roof.
What a moment it was for their 800 supporters at Kingsmeadow last Tuesday night. A goal down early on when Tom Elliott glided home a header, the game changed five minutes later.
Paul Robinson the last man according to the stand-in referee, Sutton took until the 75th minute to make their numerical advantage count.
First Roarie Deacon fired home expertly from the edge of the box and in the last minute, the simplest of huge moments. Max Biamou, frustrated in the first game, tapped home from Dan Fitchett’s centre.
The sub himself lobbed James Shea in the last second to confirm a special, special night. In fact it was a £300,000 night.
Chairman Bruce Elliott said: “I’m still struggling for words. It’s very difficult to take it in – our biggest result for many, many years – now we’ve got our biggest game since Coventry City in 1989.
“I honestly thought we lost our chance in the first game. I didn’t think we would do it in the replay, I thought we had lost our opportunity. I got that wrong!
“It’s not about the money but, yes it will come in handy. We’ve got a brilliant new 3G pitch, which is massive for the club but it came at a cost. Some of what we have earned will go towards paying off the substantial loan we took out – what a boring answer! But it’s the best investment we ever made.
“But we’ll have to find some money to get the changing room roof fixed. We can’t really put that off any longer and the players I think are starting to get a bit fed up of getting wet after and before a game!”
In the Ryman League just a few seasons ago, Sutton are a club transformed. The run that took them to the National League South title last season hadn’t even started this time last year – promotion looked a million miles away.
“It makes you think a lot about where we’ve come from in recent years,” long serving Elliott said.
“This time last year we were about to get started on a great run which took us to the National League South title. If you would have said 12 months on that we would win it, establish ourselves in the National League and that we would be in the FA Cup fourth round against Leeds after two massive sell-out games against Wimbledon, it would have taken some believing.
“It’s a plum draw, it doesn’t come much better than Leeds. I don’t know how we’re going to cope with a game of this magnitude – we’re run by volunteers and this will be different from what we’ve ever had before, but we can’t wait.”