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A story straight out of Hollywood as our very own Marine AFC take on Tottenham Hotspur today


An Emirates FA Cup fixture like never before, a story straight out of Hollywood as today our very own Eighth-tier Marine AFC take on Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur and the match is screened Live on BBC1 with build up from 4:30pm and kick off at 5pm today.


At Marine they are not just rolling out the red carpet for Tottenham's FA Cup visit, they're also bringing in the carpet cleaners.


Paul Leary, chairman of the club that plays in the eighth tier of English football, is determined the boardroom floor at the Marine Travel Arena is spotless for today’s third-round tie with the eight-time winners.


While Spurs, fourth in the Premier League, can call on the services of World Cup winner Hugo Lloris and England captain Harry Kane if needed, Northern Premier League Division One North West Marine will feature NHS workers, teachers and a refuse collector.


It is the biggest gulf at this stage of the famous competition's history.


"It's like a dream. We were two minutes from going out to Barnoldswick Town in the preliminary round," says life-long Marine fan Barry Lenton.

"Four months on and we're getting ready to welcome Tottenham. It's surreal."


Although there is an overwhelming sense of sadness that the biggest occasion in Marine's 127-year history will take place without fans, excitement has been building in Crosby, where the Mariners are located.


So Spurs will arrive at the intimate 3,185-capacity Marine Travel Arena, a world away from English football's top flight. Spurs players are used to stylish down-lighting, leather seats and personalised locker areas to hang their kit in at their £1bn Tottenham Hotspur Stadium home.


Today they will get changed in a room which has a bar and, in normal times, is hired out for wedding receptions and birthday parties!


Mourinho will deliver his team talk in the Arriva Suite instead of the away dressing room due to social distancing rules and the size of Tottenham's travelling contingent.


The function room, which seats up to 150, was closed for most of 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic. Including disco and security, it costs £220 for an all-day wedding in the room.


It has been transformed into a dressing room for the visitors, who could include England midfielder Dele Alli and club-record £55m signing Tanguy Ndombele.


Chairman of the club, Paul Leary added: “Marine is a volunteer-run community club, full of character and history.”


"We will make sure everything is right and proper for Tottenham."


"To be able to say to Tottenham 'welcome to the Marine Travel Arena' will be very special not only for myself, but for our committee and many volunteers who work tremendously hard.”


"There will never be another moment like it."


The compact Marine Travel Arena is located about one mile from the beach, home to Sir Antony Gormley's Iron Men Statues, on College Road and is surrounded by shops, cafes and businesses, many of whom advertise in the club programme.

Marine are at the heart of the community, organising and delivering food boxes to vulnerable people.


Inside the tidy three-sided ground is a main stand with 389 seats.


Both dugouts are down a narrow stretch of pitch directly behind houses on Rossett Road, with fencing numbered along the side so ball boys and girls know which door to knock on if the ball lands in a garden.


Tottenham fans have set up several GoFundMe pages to help raise money for Marine, who have launched a £10 virtual match ticket, with a raffle to recoup some of the potential £100,000 they stand to lose from having no fans present and lost sponsorship. Buy your virtual tickets here: https://marinefc.ktckts.com/merchandise/mne2021facr3/marine-v-tottenham-hotspur-virtual-match-ticket


Despite the absence of supporters, Leary hopes global interest in the tie will attract new followers to the club, whose average league attendance in 2019-20 was 446.


On Twitter at 1:30pm today @MarineAFC announced they had now sold over 20,000 virtual tickets. “Unbelievable. Thankyou all.”They said.



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