‘It would be one of the bigger football stories ever if they managed to do it' – Hawks boss Paul Doswell on former club Sutton United’s EFL glory bid

Hawks boss Paul Doswell reckons should Sutton United achieve promotion to the Football League it would rank as one of the sport's greatest ever stories.

By Lewis Mason
Wednesday, 19th May 2021, 2:11 pm
Sutton boss Matt Gay pictured during his time at Havant & Waterlooville. Picture: Dave Haines.
Sutton boss Matt Gay pictured during his time at Havant & Waterlooville. Picture: Dave Haines.

Doswell has kept a close eye on his former club's title push, with Matt Gray's men now needing four points from their final two matches to be crowned National League champions.

They will win the title if they beat visiting Hartlepool this Saturday and second-placed Torquay slip up at home to second-bottom Barnet.

Should Sutton go up, it would be the first time in the club's 123-year history they have reached Football League level.

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Hawks boss Paul Doswell spent 11 years as Sutton United manager. Picture: Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Doswell enjoyed some remarkable success of his own during an 11-year spell as boss at Gander Green Lane.

He guided Sutton to both Isthmian League Premier Division and National League South titles as manager while also leading the club to the fifth round of the FA Cup in 2016/17.

But Doswell - who appointed Gray as head coach at Sutton during his time at the club - insists the U's getting to the EFL would easily top anything he achieved.

'I’m absolutely delighted,’ he said.

‘We put a lot of the building blocks in play there and if Matt (Gray) can finish off the roof, he’s done an amazing job.

‘I recommended him (Gray) for the job. No-one else got interviewed, me and Bairdy (Ian Baird) - I’ve worked with Bairdy for years - it was a very, very strong recommendation when I left that the board take him.

‘I knew he was right for the club, he’d already been at the club with me, but he’s done an amazing job.

‘A lot of the players are still there who I brought in so I’ve got a massive affiliation with them - Craig Eastmond, Harry Beautyman, Kenny Davis.

‘It would be one of the bigger football stories ever if Sutton, with such a low budget, managed to do it.'

Gray has his own Westleigh Park links - he played 14 times for the Hawks as a defender in 2005/06 after being signed by Baird.

Sutton, meanwhile, would be forced to rip up some of the groundwork laid by Doswell if they were to go up.

FA ruling states no team within the top four tiers of English football can have an artificial pitch - and Sutton play on a 3G surface.

Doswell was influential in the club switching from grass to 3G and he believes the rule is 'stupid'.

He said: 'That’s always the downside (no 3G pitches in Football League).

‘Let’s hope if ever we get in a position to get in the National League and ever get in a position to get promoted, they’ve changed that stupid rule because it needs changing.'

Sutton wouldn’t be the first to have to rip up an artificial surface - Harrogate Town had to do it after winning promotion from the National League play-offs last summer.