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With those pesky internationals out the way, the Premier League was back in action and it was a weekend full of drama.
On Monday morning (AEDT), Tottenham played and won their FA Cup fixture 5-0. Although that sounds pretty stock-standard, the team they played wouldn’t usually be associated with the third round of this competition.
Typically at this stage, Spurs would’ve played a Championship-level team or, if they’re lucky, a League 1 or League 2 side.
This week, they played a squad currently competing in the Northern Premier League Division One North West, which is in the eighth tier of English football and the fourth tier of non-league football.
What made this match-up even better was that Tottenham played at Rosset Park, in Crosby, the home ground of their opposition Marine FC.
The game itself was dominated by José Mourinho’s side, as they gained 75 per cent of possession and completed 703 passes, as opposed to the Mariners’ 241. Still, the home team still put on a performance, with part-time plumber Neil Kengni rattling Joe Hart’s crossbar in the 20th minute with the score 0-0.
When the fixture was first announced, Marine FC was over the moon, expecting to make hundreds of thousands of pounds in ticket sales. However, due to COVID restrictions, the match was played behind closed doors, seeing the club anticipate losing upwards of $AUD175,000 in revenue.
Instead, the Mariners sold virtual tickets to the game, offloading 30,067 for £10, earning the club more than £300,000.
Despite Marine and Tottenham being 161 teams between each other, players such as Gareth Bale, Lucas Moura, Joe Hart, Dele Alli played, giving the Mariners the opportunity to compete for 90 minutes against legends of world football.
Playing on what looks like a Sunday-league pitch with supporters lined up against the fence and making noise with vuvuzelas from nearby balconies provided a fantastic and humbling setting for Tottenham. The two clubs have appeared to make a friendship on the back of the game, with Mourinho purchasing a virtual seat and the Tottenham shirts (once washed) getting signed and sent back to Marine FC as well.
Also, Spurs fan Matt Bridle started a GoFundMe initiative that raised over £8000, which will be given in February to support Marine FC.
Match-ups like these are what make not just the FA Cup but sport in general so special. The amount of money and support that the Mariners have gained in response to a large loss is amazing and both clubs will remember this encounter for decades to come.