LONDON – The magic of football was played out Sunday when one of the giants of the Premier League faced one of England’s smallest clubs.
Tottenham Hotspur, used to playing at their 62,850-capacity stadium in London, headed north to Liverpool to play non-league club Marine FC in the biggest gulf between opponents in the history of the iconic FA Cup contest.
Spurs currently sit fourth in the English top-flight, while Marine is sixth in the Northern Premier League, the eighth tier of English football, with 161 places between the two teams.
While Spurs players earn thousands of dollars a week, members of the Marine squad have everyday jobs to earn a living. One player is a train driver, one is a school teacher, and another a refuse collector. The team is made up of some full-time and part-time players. Marine’s total wage bill is less than 2,400 U.S. dollars a week.
One sports commentator described Marine as the biggest underdogs in the FA Cup competition’s history.
When the final whistle blew, it was a 5-0 victory for Jose Mourinho’s Spurs.
There was some glory for Spurs, with Carlos Vinicius hitting a first-half hat-trick and 16-year-old Alfie Devine scoring on his debut.
“Neil Kengni twanged the crossbar at 0-0 – and will remember everything about this game with the greatest fondness,” a report by the Guardian stated.
Spurs passed close to Anfield, home of Liverpool FC, and nearby Goodison Park, home of Everton on their way to Crosby, a suburb just a few kilometers away.
Their task for the day was to thrash Marine FC in an FA Cup third-round clash, an easy task for the London visitors, but whatever the score, it was a dream come true for Marine.
The home team’s ground has a capacity of just a few thousand, with less than 400 fans able to be seated. With teams currently playing to empty stadiums because of COVID-19, the capacity would have easily been reached.
It meant Marine missing out on a six-figure bonus because of the empty stadium, but at least their clash was televised live on TV.
Instead, Marine sold 10,000 tickets for the game to raise money, even though ticket holders knew they would not get through the turnstiles.
But the game will earn its place in English football history.
It was yet another reason why the FA Cup is so amazing. It allows little known clubs from nowhere, to take on world-class giants.