Baird a Shaw bet for Eastleigh

By Wendy Gee -  

WAYNE Shaw believes Eastleigh boss Ian Baird has "all the tools" to guide the club into the Blue Square Bet Premier.

The larger-than-life goalkeeper, who returned to the Silverlake this week after a four-year absence, knows just what it takes to break into the promotion pack after being part of the Sutton United squad that made the play-off finals last term.

With Sutton's first-choice keeper Kevin Scriven injured, Shaw, 41, rolled back the years by keeping a clean sheet in the Us' 0-0 draw at Welling United in the play-off semi-final second leg.

Unfortunately Sutton paid the price for a home defeat, losing out 2-1 on aggregate, and it was Dartford who eventually joined champions Woking in non-League's top flight next term.

Eastleigh finished down in 12th place in what turned out to be a transitional campaign. But, with new owner Stewart Donald of Bridle Insurance pumping big money into the club, the Spitfires have strengthened considerably this summer and made promotion their number one goal.

Shaw, who will double up as goalkeeping coach and number two to 19-year-old ex-Saints keeper Jack Dovey, is the club's eighth summer arrival.

He follows Marvin Williams, Osei Sankofa, Glen Southam, Dale Binns, Jai Reason, Dovey and Craig McAllister through a busy Silverlake door.

Most of those players already have league titles and promotions behind them and Shaw said: "I think Bairdy's got all the tools to get Eastleigh up.

"It's a matter of fine-tuning the side and getting them over the line. It's all about belief.

"The players Bairdy has brought in are all winners and they know what's required of them.

"It looks really exciting at Eastleigh for next season. Speaking to people around the club, they're all behind what's going on here.

"We've got to hit the ground running and go for it."

Shaw was a popular figure at the Silverlake before joining ex-Spitfires boss Paul Doswell at Sutton two-and-a-half years ago.

He helped the Us gain promotion from the Ryman Premier and establish themselves as a Conference South force. But the Surrey club is moving in a different direction and he can no longer be a part of it.

"Sutton are going to be training on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday mornings next season and it would have been difficult with travelling and getting back to work," said Shaw, who makes his living at his uncle's ice-cream parlour, Carlo's, in East Wellow.

"It was excellent at Sutton even though it was a long way to go. Dos has done a fantastic job and everybody there, from the fans right through to the committee, are great people."

Eastleigh, though, is not only closer in distance for the big man, but the club is closer to his heart.

"It's the only place to be," he smiled. "I was still involved at Eastleigh when Bairdy first arrived and I did a Monday night session with the academy. I'm looking forward to working with him again.

"I'll be 42 in October but I'm still happy to play if needed.

"One or two of the fans on the forum have questioned whether I'm the right number two for Jack, but I went straight on there and reminded them about my clean sheet at Welling!" he chuckled.

Shaw's testimonial match against an ex-Saints XI in July 2008 attracted nearly 400 people to the Silverlake and he remains a much-loved figure at the Stoneham Lane club. His big personality and dressing room presence could prove vital in knitting together Baird's newly assembled side.


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