A new season means newly promoted sides looking to prove themselves in the Football League. Ahead of Exeter City’s new campaign we preview our new opponents from Sutton United.
ABOUT SUTTON UNITED
Formed in May 1898, Sutton United retained the colours of Sutton Association when the club amalgamated with Sutton Guild Rovers to create the modern club we see today. By 1902, The amber and chocolate kitted club earned their first honour, winning the Herald Junior Cup- the first of three successive triumphs.
In 1910, Sutton assumed senior status and joined the Southern Suburban League and gained use of Gander Green Lane- the ground still in use today. Throughout the 20th Century, the trophies continued to flood the cabinet at the “Borough Sports Ground” with the Surrey Senior Shield and the first of fifteen Surrey Senior Cups. In 1946 United reached the First Round Proper of the F.A Cup for the first time, after multiple appearances in the semis of the F.A Amateur Cup. By 1963 they reached Wembley for the inaugural occasion, in the final of that same competition.
In ’69, Sutton gained national acclaim, drawing Leeds United in the 4th Round of the Cup, earning a record 14,000 attendance- yet to be topped today. In more contemporary times, Sutton have been knocking on the door of the Football League for a while and last year finally broke through to the EFL.
A wonderful season was capped off with a win over fellow promoted side Hartlepool which secured the U’s will be playing League football for the first time in the club’s history. The consequence of promotion requires Gander Green Lane to be fitted with a grass pitch rather than the 3G Astroturf used in recent years, but its just water off a duck’s back given the magnitude of their debut season as a Top 92 English club.
Matt Gray is the General of the Sutton Army. Appointed manager in May 2019 after the departure of Paul Doswell, he originally joined the coaching staff in December 2018 having previously had spells as assistant manager in the National League at Eastleigh, and in League Two with Aldershot and Crawley.
As a player he began his career with Tottenham Hotspur and played for Cardiff City, Hayes and Havant & Waterlooville before forced to retire early through injury. When he’s not guiding the U’s to history, Gray is a keen Golfer and a member of two luxury clubs in Barnet and Kent.
Harry Beautyman fired the U’s into the Football League chipping in with 11 goals from Midfield last season. The playmaker has made 125 appearences for Sutton since joining from Stevenage in 2018.
Born in London, Beautyman was a key cog in the Leyton Orient youth set-up but failed to register a senior appearance for the U’s. Loans to St Alban’s and Hastings bridge his first move to Gander Green Lane in 2011, where 21 goals in 81 games moved him to Welling. Whilst at the Bexley club, Beautyman was spotted by Peterborough United, where he initially went on loan, then permanent in 2014/15. He made his league debut against Bristol City in November 2015 and signed permanently the following January.
Spells at Northampton and Stevenage followed before dropping back into non-league with Sutton and being the engine to drag the Amber and Chocolate club to League Two.
2020/21 SEASON REVIEW
History was made by Sutton United last season. Promotion against Hartlepool in the final weeks elevated the U’s into the Football League for the first time in their 123-year-history. Spearheaded by Millwall loanee, 20-year-old, Isaac Olaofe, Sutton were within touching distance of the title from the first weeks of the season. With Devon side Torquay stumbling over the line, Sutton seized the initiative with four wins in the last five to claim a famous title.
Only seven losses and a staggering 72 goals scored secured a comfortable four-point gap at the top of the Step 1 table come June. United had achieved a 14-game unbeaten streak between February and April to breathe down the necks of the Torbay club, and despite losing to the Gulls, swiftly regained momentum. Now the club embark on an inaugural EFL campaign.
HEAD TO HEAD
When Sutton come to St James Park on September 18th 2021 will mark the first ever competitive meeting between the sides.
DID YOU KNOW
Kevin “bigger than a tractor” Amankwaah and Jamie Mackie are among a couple of ex-Grecians to have played for both Sutton and Exeter. Kevin made over 100 appearences for the U’s and went on to appear in United’s historic fifth round cup run. Jamie scored twice in five matches in a brief loan-spell to Gander Green Lane after he joined the Grecians in 2005, before promptly being recalled and becoming a regular first-teamer at SJP.