Eighth-tier Marine hope to host 1,600 fans for visit of Tottenham in FA Cup

Dan Kilpatrick
·3-min read
 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Eighth-tier Marine are hoping to host Tottenham in front of 1,600 supporters in the FA Cup third round, according to manager Neil Young, who also expects fans without tickets to watch from local houses and trees.

The Northern Premier League side were drawn with the current top-flight leaders – 168 places above them – in the biggest-ever gap between clubs at this stage of the competition.

Marine's home, which is packed tightly between houses in Sefton, Merseyside, is in Tier 2 of the Government's coronavirus restrictions, in which 2,000 supporters are allowed to attend matches, but the club is currently in talks with the Football Association, Sefton Council and Spurs about whether the ground can safely welcome fans for the tie across the weekend of January 9 and 10.

"We can get about 1,600 in under the current restrictions, that may change obviously with the Government guidelines as we go forward," Young said. "We'll play at home hopefully. I presume they'll be safety standards people there involved and the police will have things to say. We'll see what happens.

"If you were to move it, you'd have to move it to another ground probably, a local ground, rather than go away from home. The plan is to play at Marine if we can. It's a proper cup tie, it's what the FA Cup is about. It took seven games to get here, this is our reward and they don't come much bigger.

"Our ground actually only has three sides, there's houses on one side. People can [watch from bedroom windows], they'll be people in trees and everything. It's a tight little ground, a lovely little ground and it'll be very welcome to Tottenham Hotspur."

Marine's division is currently suspended and before Sunday's second-round win over Havant and Waterlooville they had not played since taking the scalp of League Two Colchester three weeks earlier.

"We're surviving on our FA Cup exploits," Young, who is hoping the Spurs match will be picked for TV, told BBC Radio 4's Today Programme. "Football without fans at our level is not sustainable, the fans are the lifeblood and who pay the bills, pay players' wages.

"If there's' no fans, unfortunately there won't be much football."

Marine goalkeeper Bayleigh Passant – who went viral after being pictured in full kit buying beers from a local Co-Op after their second-round win – said: "I'm not allowed to have a drink [at Christmas] now, that's the sad thing!

"If you were to say to us at the start of the season, we'd be playing Tottenham at our home ground, we'd all have laughed at you. It'll be funny to see Mourinho on our pitch.

"Three years ago I was on the bench against Tottenham in the third-round for Tranmere. I was just nervous being on the bench. I'm going to be nervous the night before and during the warm up, looking over and seeing players at the top level. I think it's good to have a bit of nerves, it shows you care."

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