Home FA Cup Eighth-tier AFC Marine will be gunning for Mourinho’s millionaires when Spurs arrive in the FA Cup 

Eighth-tier AFC Marine will be gunning for Mourinho’s millionaires when Spurs arrive in the FA Cup 

by TopSoccerStar™
AFC Marine, pictured in the gold and black kit, are in the eighth tier of English football and will host Premier League leaders Tottenham in the FA Cup third round

A bin man and a PE teacher up against the captain of England, the captain of Wales and Jose Mourinho. The FA Cup has outdone itself this time.

The plum tie of the third round pits eighth-tier AFC Marine at home to Tottenham, the current Premier League leaders, in the biggest gulf between two clubs ever seen at this stage of the competition. Marine are ninth in the Northern Premier League Division One North West standings.

But from the goalkeeper ‘getting the ale in’ after their second-round victory to the club installing their first ever manager’s office last year, just how different is life at Marine to that of Premier League leaders Tottenham? Sportsmail takes a closer look… 

AFC Marine, pictured in the gold and black kit, are in the eighth tier of English football and will host Premier League leaders Tottenham in the FA Cup third round

ROSSETT PARK AND THE £83,000 FACE-LIFT  

A little over a year ago, while Tottenham were battling it out in their Champions League group with eventual winners Bayern Munich in their £1billion stadium, Marine chairman Paul Leary welcomed Jamie Carragher to their Rossett Park ground.

Marine had received an £83,000 grant from the Football Stadia Improvement Fund that coincided with their 125th birthday and, as Carragher was about to learn, the money had galvanised their venue.

‘£83,000 to a club like Marine is a lot of money,’ Leary said, before leading Carragher into the manager’s office. 

‘We didn’t have one {office] before,’ he beamed. ‘This investment gives us another reason to carry on.’  

Carragher was immediately drawn to the tactics board.

‘Can I take a shot of this?’ he asked. ‘I’ll take it to Monday Night Football and see if me and Gary Neville can get to the bottom of it!’

Jamie Carragher was shown around Marine's ground in October 2019 after they received an £83,000 grant and built their first ever manager's office

Jamie Carragher was shown around Marine’s ground in October 2019 after they received an £83,000 grant and built their first ever manager’s office

Carragher joked he'd take a picture of the tactics board to assess on Monday Night Football

Carragher joked he’d take a picture of the tactics board to assess on Monday Night Football

Carragher was welcomed to Marine by chairman Paul Leary, who could oversee an intake of around £150,000 after they have played against Tottenham next month

Carragher was welcomed to Marine by chairman Paul Leary, who could oversee an intake of around £150,000 after they have played against Tottenham next month

Neither Leary nor Carragher could have dreamed that, a little over a year later, Marine would be central to such a spectacle after they were drawn against Tottenham in the FA Cup third round.

They stand to make almost double what that grant was worth – around £150,000 – and it could increase depending on how many fans are allowed in to watch. There could even be an alternative venue for the match, with Marine saying in a statement that they ‘will be engaging with the FA, Sefton Council, Tottenham Hotspur and other potential interested parties regarding match arrangements.’

But while Rossett Park had a new coat of paint, it hasn’t lost any of the authenticity that adds the allure of this cup tie. Marine’s ground only has stands on three sides and the fourth is netting, protecting the houses behind the ground.

And incredibly, Harry Kane could find himself asking Marine’s neighbours for his ball back when the two teams do meet. House numbers are placed on the netting to help players quickly find the ball after any shots that go high and wide. Although, in fairness, Kane is a lot more clinical than the players Marine are used to facing. 

Marine have numbers on netting on one side of the ground to help them retrieve any stray footballs from the back gardens of houses that are next door to their pitch

Marine have numbers on netting on one side of the ground to help them retrieve any stray footballs from the back gardens of houses that are next door to their pitch

A PIE AND A PINT 

At Tottenham, the elite matchday experience is as fine as money can buy with executive boxes at the finest points of a stadium considered by many to be the best in the world. Their premium packages include drinks on arrival, greetings from a club legend, pre-match access to the players’ tunnel and a fine dining experience in their restaurant.

For Marine, it’s unsurprisingly a bit different. As part of the £83,000 grant, they installed a tea bar that allows them to make a little bit of extra cash on matchday and also a catering and hospitality section.

But while they are rightly pleased with the arrangements they can provide, Leary would be the first to admit they simply don’t compare to the packages Tottenham can offer. The cost for the more straightforward premium Spurs tickets start at £249 and rise quite significantly while the catered package for Marine comes in at £30.

Marine installed a Snack Bar at their ground after receiving their grant last year

Marine installed a Snack Bar at their ground after receiving their grant last year

They also installed a catering and hospitality area that costs supporters £30 per ticket

They also installed a catering and hospitality area that costs supporters £30 per ticket 

The club shop is a far cry from the megastores that Premier League clubs are used to having

The club shop is a far cry from the megastores that Premier League clubs are used to having

Otherwise, general entry for Marine is £10. ‘

‘A tenner? Have you got Mo Salah playing?’ Carragher joked when he paid his entry fee on his tour in 2019, before making his way through the new turnstiles at the entry point.

There is also a club shop but in the age of social distancing, there won’t be many supporters allowed in at once. As Carragher saw himself, it’s a far cry from the megastores that the Premier League’s major clubs have. 

THE PE TEACHER AGAINST THE ENGLAND CAPTAIN

For Marine captain and second-round match-winner Niall Cummins, Tottenham is exactly the tie he wanted.

‘I punched the air,’ said Cummins. ‘I’m a big Arsenal fan and I get a chance to play against Tottenham!’

Cummins had a taste of FA Cup heartbreak four years ago when his Curzon Ashton side were 10 minutes away from the third round, only for opponents AFC Wimbledon to snatch victory.

Niall Cummins - Marine's scorer against Havant & Waterlooville - is also a PE teacher

Niall Cummins – Marine’s scorer against Havant & Waterlooville – is also a PE teacher 

Cummins is an Arsenal fan and is relishing the chance to face their fierce rivals Tottenham

Cummins is an Arsenal fan and is relishing the chance to face their fierce rivals Tottenham

The 28-year-old is a PE teacher at a nearby school in Manchester and was back to work the day after their win over Havant & Waterlooville, so was unable to enjoy to many of the beers that goalkeeper and team-mate Bayliegh Passant had bought.

He scored by bundling the ball over the line after Waterlooville failed to clear a free-kick into the area from bin man James Barrigan. ‘It’s one of the worst goals I’ve ever scored but probably the most important,’ Cummins said.

For Passant, the win was the perfect reason to celebrate. He was snapped leaving the Co-Op on the end of College Road, the street where Marine play, getting some celebratory drinks in for his team. 

‘We always said “imagine if we win” and it got to that moment where the whistle blew,’ Passant said to Radio Merseyside. ‘We got in the changing room and said “let’s get the ales in”‘. 

Goalkeeper Bayliegh Passant bought the beers for his team after the second-round triumph

Goalkeeper Bayliegh Passant bought the beers for his team after the second-round triumph

The Marine players pictured celebrating after beating Havent & Waterlooville 1-0

The Marine players pictured celebrating after beating Havent & Waterlooville 1-0

Passant wanted to face neighbours Liverpool at Anfield in the third round as he’s a Reds fan and was once on the books as a youngster. But instead, he’ll be tasked with keeping Tottenham’s formidable attack of Kane, Son Heung-min and Gareth Bale at bay. 

Cummins, meanwhile, is hopeful fans can still attend the cup clash despite the restrictions that will inevitably be in place to combat Covid-19. 

‘I’m so, so glad it’s at home so our fans can come along as well,’ he said. ‘I hope we can slip into tier one before the game and get as many fans there as possible. It’ll be fantastic for everyone involved.’ 

‘UNKNOWN LEGEND’ NEIL YOUNG LOCKS HORNS WITH MOURINHO 

Mourinho’s opposite number for the January encounter shares his name with the legendary Canadian songwriter Neil Young. 

Incredibly, when Young left Altrincham in 2016, he said it is ‘ultimately the right time to retire from the dugout’ but had a change of heart two years later, when he took over at Marine. 

It has not been easy for him since he’s been at the club and they were relegated in the 2018-19 season – the campaign where Young arrived halfway through.

Marine manager Neil Young said he was quitting management when left Altrincham in 2016

Marine manager Neil Young said he was quitting management when left Altrincham in 2016

And now, he is gearing up for one of the most incredible ties in FA Cup history.

‘What an incredible game for the club, it doesn’t get much better than that really,’ he said. ‘Jose Mourinho at Marine! It’s fantastic.’

One of Young’s predecessors as manager, Roly Howard, holds the record for being the longest-serving English manager post-war – 33 years 1972 to 2005. That’s a stunning 1,975 games. He still attends matches, although wasn’t there on Sunday. 

Howard was synonymous with Marine and his other claim to fame, aside from setting the record for the most games managed, is that he used to be Kenny Dalglish’s window cleaner. 

Now, Young meets Jose Mourinho and his Tottenham stars in the FA Cup third round

Now, Young meets Jose Mourinho and his Tottenham stars in the FA Cup third round

And if Mourinho fancies a pre-match stroll, it could take place in an area of outstanding natural beauty and heritage.

A mile from College Road is Anthony Gormley’s sculpture ‘Another Place’, which is 100 iron men all looking out onto the Mersey Estuary and is a huge visitor attraction in Merseyside. Everton boss Carlo Ancelotti, who lives in the area, takes regular walks along the beach.

In his 12 months at Everton, he has described the area in which he lives as “the biggest surprise” about the job. Ancelotti likes to be by the coast. He has yet to take in a game at Marine, though.

Source: DailyMail

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