Sutton Utd played the first ever EFL game in their 123 year history at The Fully Charged New Lawn!  They were promoted  as champions of the National League at the end of last season.  The match in Nailsworth in August was memorable – an opener from Matty Stevens on 30 minutes, an Omar Bugiel equaliser (remember Omar!) on 69 minutes, then an Ebou Adams winner in extra time securing a 2-1 win for Rovers.

Since this meeting, Sutton’s first season in the EFL has been very solid.  They are in 4th place, looking good for at least a play-off place, with 49 points from 29 games.  They score a lot of goals (44 of them so far), and they have pretty tidy home form, only dropping 15 points at home all season.  They are also on a great run of form – just 1 loss in their last 12 games dating back to November (the loss being a 3-2 defeat away at Newport).

Sutton play at Gander Green Lane.  This is about 13 miles south-west of London, midway between Wimbledon and Epsom.

The club say “It’s our first season in the Football League and we know our ground needs some work to stand comparison with most of the other stadia in the division but we are working on it. However, you will enjoy a warm welcome and find us to be very friendly.”

Away fans are behind one of the goals in the Collingwood Road end.  This can accommodate about 300 supporters – mostly standing, but with just over 100 seats in a temporary stand built recently.

Travel to Sutton by coach or car will take a little over 2 and a half hours (about 110 miles from Nailsworth).  Train travel is possible (unusually!).  Trains leave Stroud every hour (just after the half hour) and take a little over 3 hours to get to West Sutton.  West Sutton is within about 200 metres of the stadium.  If you end up at Sutton station, it’s a 20 minute walk to the ground.  Trains usually go via Paddington and normally involve 3 changes.  There are 5 possible trains that’ll get you back to Stroud, leaving between 17.37 and 19.41.  The cost for an adult return is about £50.  Supporters coaches leave Stonehouse at 11.05, Sainsburys 11.20 and TFCNL at 11.30.  Ring KB Coaches on 01453 825 774 between  8.30am and 5pm  Mondays to Fridays to book your place.

Admission prices are £20 for adults, £13 for concessions and £6 for juniors.  Children age 10 and under are admitted free.  Tickets can be bought on the day at the ticket office or in advance via this link

Gander Green Lane has a capacity of just over 5,000 with 765 seated.

Sutton retained the 3 players who figured in the National League’s team of the season last season.  This ‘team of the season’ was a result of votes from all the National League teams.  The three were, centre back Ben Goodcliffe (number 5), left midfielder Harry Beautyman (number 10) and right midfielder David Ajiboye (number 7).

Beautyman was Sutton’s second top scorer last season but has only featured for them in 8 games so far this season.

Sutton’s own player of the season last season was their midfielder captain Craig Eastmond (number 15).  Eastmond, who began his career at Arsenal, has been with Sutton since he first signed for them in 2015.

David Ajiboye and Millwall loanee Isaac Olaofe (number 16) have been Sutton’s most potent attacking threats this season and both have scored 7 goals.  Both men are Londoners.  This is the second loan spell at Sutton for Olaofe.  Last season he was Sutton’s top scorer and was named their Young Player of the Year.

Craig Eastmond, Sutton’s captain, was named their player of the season last season.

Isaac Olaofe – the Millwall loanee is a regular goalscorer for Sutton.

David Ajiboye plays attacking right midfield or striker and is Sutton’s joint top scorer with Isaac Olaofe.

Omar Bugiel (number 9) plays as a striker for Sutton.

Sutton’s No 9, Omar Bugiel will no doubt be remembered by many Rovers fans.  The German-born Lebanese striker played for Rovers between 2016 and 2018, making 35 appearances and scoring 8 times for us in both the National League and League 2.  After a move to Bromley, Omar moved on to Sutton in 2019 and seems to be making his mark there!  He scored Sutton’s goal when the teams met in August, one of 3 goals he has scored this season so far.

Promotion to the EFL had one big downside for Sutton.  They had to replace their 3G playing surface with grass – the EFL doesn’t allow artificial surfaces.  Harrogate had a similar dilemna when they rose from the National League.  Sutton chairman Bruce Elliott branded the EFL ‘dinosaurs’ for their attitude to synthetic playing surfaces.  Elliott believes the 3G surface encouraged Sutton’s passing game and helped them achieve promotion.  He believes the cost of grassing the pitch at Gander Green Lane is probably around £500,000.  Part of this cost was the loss of revenue that the club used to earn from hiring out the pitch – he says the ground was used constantly, but that has now changed.

Sutton made all sorts of headlines during the 2016–17 season.  They reached the Fifth Round of the FA Cup for the first time in their history, beating three Football League teams, Cheltenham, AFC Wimbledon and Leeds Utd on the way.  They finally lost 2–0 at home to Arsenal but all the headlines that day were about their 45 year-old, 23 stone, reserve goalkeeper, Wayne Shaw.

Wayne was pictured tucking into a pasty in the 83rd minute of the tie and became an almost instant celebrity.  But things took a turn when the Gambling Commission launched a probe and found that there were odds of 8/1 pre-match that Wayne would be pictured eating a pie during the game.  Wayne was forced to resign!

Sutton have one of the league’s more unusual mascots, and at 9ft, probably one of the tallest.  Jenny the Giraffe lays claim to being being one of the very few female mascots and has been strutting her stuff around Gander Green Lane since 2009.