The Sutton United captain works as a builder three days a week. The other two days he concentrates on his football, and at the weekends he has matches.
Sunday’s game was a bit special, as it happens. Collins scored the penalty that ensured Sutton and Lincoln, who made it through against Brighton, became the first two non-League sides into the fifth round of the FA Cup since 1988. They say the romance of the Cup is fading – but not this season.
So yesterday morning Collins made his excuses and called in a favour from the guv’nor after a night celebrating down at Gander Green Lane after the 1-0 win over Leeds created a little bit more footballing history in this corner of Surrey.
The 32-year-old had had a few drinks bought for him in the clubhouse after Sutton’s latest triumph financed by several members of his family, who had backed him at 12-1 to score the first goal.
“A lot of my family had me anytime goalscorer because they know I take the penalties,” said Collins. “I think I was 12-1, so a few of them made a bit of money!
Jamie Collins scored the winning penalty against Leeds
Sutton will face Arsenal in the next round
“When the penalty came my thoughts were mainly just to hit the target. Hit it low and hard. If you go low and hard and he saves it I always think it is a good save.
“This year I’m four out of four on penalties. I’ve taken them at previous clubs so I am used to it. I wasn’t overly nervous. The worse you can do is miss, and at that point there was plenty of time left.”
The final whistle was greeted by scenes as joyous as those in 1989 when top-flight Coventry were turfed out at the Lane. Garry Monk’s under-strength Leeds had been comfortably sent packing, and the National league side thoroughly deserved their win.
Collins said: “I don’t think we ever felt under a lot of pressure. They had a lot of the ball, but never really hurt us.
“We were disappointed to go in at half-time 0-0, we were much more the dominant team. Second half they came out a little bit more but never really got any balls into the box, never really got behind us. So we defended a good line and on the counter-attack looked dangerous.”
Inside Arsenal's changing room for away clash at Sutton United
Mon, January 30, 2017
Arsenal face a trip to non-league side Sutton United for their fifth round FA Cup clash and this is the changing room they'll use…
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Sutton fans will no doubt pack out Ganders Green Lane in the FA Cup fifth round tie
Collins is well travelled around the lower reaches, having turned out for Havant & Waterlooville, Forest Green Rovers, Newport, Aldershot and Eastleigh. The defender reached the fourth round with Havant before being knocked out by Liverpool at Anfield in 2008, but this felt different.
“We watched Leeds play Cambridge in the last round, and no disrespect to the Under-23 League but we knew they’d try and play tippy-tappy football,” he said. “If you press the midfielders, you could see in the first half how many times our midfielders won the ball off them.
“I’ve played at that level, and when you come to non-League it is a completely different kind of experience. You don’t get time on the ball.”
He did have some time at the bar on Sunday night though – hence the call to his boss.
“I normally have to be around the guv’nor’s house about 6.30 and pick up the truck, but I thought I might give a call because I heard it was a free bar Sunday night!
“I’m a supervisor, I drive round each job in Camden and make sure the boys are working. I enjoy it, it is good banter. It breaks up the week.
“We train two days each week – I work Monday, Wednesday and Friday on the building site and we train Tuesday and Thursday.”
With a workload like that, it makes Collins wonder why an outfit such as Leeds can’t make changes and still.
As for Leeds, who made ten changes to the side that played Nottingham Forest last Wednesday, Collins said: “I know their priority is to get promoted, and with the money that is in the Premier League now, you can understand why they did what they did. They have got a game on Wednesday.
“But with some of the younger players in their first team I can’t see why you can’t play every four days. We are not moaning, but sometimes it shows a little bit of disrespect to the Cup, which everyone says is the greatest competition in the world.
“If you look at the teams that have gone through – us, Lincoln and Oxford – it shows that nowadays the big boys can’t make that many changes and expect to win, whereas before they used to do it and get away with it.”