Marine sunk by Spurs fire-power but FA Cup remains a winner in dark times

January 11 – Tottenham Hotspur and Carlos Vinicius’ 13-minute hat-trick ended Marine FC’s fairy tale run in the FA Cup in a 5-0 demolition of the non-league club, who sit 161 places below the Londoners in the English football pyramid.

While giant killing acts weren’t to be seen by Marine against Spurs, they were achieved by League 2 Crawley Town who beat Premier League Leeds United 3-0 and Blackpool from League 1, who overcame a very sad looking West Brom on penalties. Newport County of the League 2 only lost to premier League Brighton on penalties.

But it was the focus on the David-vs-Goliath encounter between Marine from the Northern Premier League Division 1 North West, and Tottenham, Champions League’s finalists in 2018 that captured the imagination and a nation’s interest. The match was screened live on BBC 1, still the nation’s go-to broadcast channel in times of national crisis.

At Rossett Park, José Mourinho sat on a chair with the garden of 19 Rossett Road behind him and a cardboard cut-out of Jürgen Klopp over his right shoulder and Gareth Bale was handed some minutes. The stadium’s function room had been transformed into the away dressing room for the occasion.

Marine play their football in the eighth tier of English football and even though the FA Cup tie was played behind closed doors because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the 90 minutes still represented a once-in-lifetime experience for the Merseyside club.

The club, only the second team from the eighth tier to reach the third round of the FA Cup, sold virtual tickets for £10, which included a raffle to become the team’s manager for one game, to compensate for the match being moved behind closed doors. Ticket sales were a hit with more than 30,000 sold, raising £300,000.

The hosts held out for 24 minutes before the Premier League visitors scored through Vinicius. The Brazilian went on to register a rare hat-trick in the space of 13 minutes, with his compatriot Lucas Moura finding the back of the net as well in the 32nd minute to put the game out of Marine’s reach. But the non-league side were not humiliated. They conceded just one more goal after the break, Devine, the youngest debutant in Spurs’ history at 16 years and 163 days, adding a fifth for Tottenham at the hour mark.

On Wednesday, Tottenham will be back in action in the Premier League against Fulham, but for Marine the future is uncertain. The Northern Premier League division one north west is suspended until at least March 6 and it might not return at all this season. At least, Marine suffered a wonderful defeat that will last in the memory and brought in much-needed funds to navigate the future.

Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1611424546labto1611424546ofdlr1611424546owedi1611424546sni@o1611424546fni1611424546