Marine made yet more magical FA Cup memories as a delegation of club officials enjoyed a special trip to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Sunday, writes Will Jennings.
Celebrating the one-year anniversary of the club’s FA Cup third round clash against Spurs, manager Neil Young, chairman Paul Leary and president Dave Thompson were among those invited to the capital for Tottenham’s 3-1 win against Morecambe.
Last year’s match against Jose Mourinho’s Premier League heavyweights – that Spurs won 5-0 – attracted millions of viewers around the world, with thousands of Tottenham fans investing in a total of 32,202 virtual tickets to raise money for the behind-closed-doors contest at the Marine Travel Arena.
And the two clubs have since forged an intimate footballing friendship, with the Mariners using the money to enhance their facilities in Crosby and undergo a significant summer of off-field refurbishment.
The delegation were treated to a pre-match meal ahead of watching Spurs’ triumph from the directors’ box, before Thompson and Young appeared on the pitch at half-time to give a heartfelt speech and present Tottenham legend Gary Mabbutt with a glass FA Cup trophy as an additional expression of gratitude.
And speaking on Monday after the unforgettable visit, club chairman Leary said: “It was unbelievable and one of the most special days of my life.
“It really was the dream of dreams – it was a goosebumps sort of moment and absolutely amazing to be invited.
“We were welcomed so well by the club on Sunday – Tottenham and their fans have been magnificent since the day the third round draw was made.
“We’ve formed an immediate friendship with Tottenham, and Spurs fans around the world rallied unbelievably to support our club’s virtual ticket appeal launched as a result of our final four games in the competition having to be played behind closed doors due to Covid restrictions.
“32,202 tickets were sold, the majority to Tottenham Hotspur fans living in 45 countries around the world.
— Marine Football Club (@MarineAFC) January 9, 2022
“This has changed our Club in such a massive way enabling us to plan and invest in facilities to a level that we previously could not even think about. It has transformed our volunteer-run football club and has furthered our ambitions dramatically.”
Speaking on the pitch in north London, president Thompson added: “From a club perspective, we couldn't move forwards as a club without the help of Spurs fans.
“They've been absolutely terrific - much more beyond our wildest dreams. We can't say thank you enough.”
Marine have been making major inroads both on and off the pitch and currently sit at the summit of the Pitching In Northern Premier League Division One West.
The club have fostered a collective community ethos over the course of the last 12 months and thanks to Tottenham fans’ generosity, have seen their Marine in the Community outreach initiative thrive across the Merseyside region.
Attendances at the Marine Travel Arena have sky-rocketed in recent weeks and a total of 18,000 fans – an average of 1,110 across 16 games including a record capacity crowd of 2,150 in the local derby against Bootle – have flocked to the venue as Young’s side climbed up the Trident League table.
Marine take on third-place Warrington Rylands this weekend and president Thompson added: “With the help of Spurs and other global football fans who bought so many virtual tickets for a game nobody could attend, it has changed our club’s future.
“After undertaking a major summer of refurbishment, we’ve now trebled our attendances this season and have so many more big home games, six pointers, coming up.
“The mood at the club is amazing – it’s been a brilliant season and none of this would be possible without the support of Spurs fans.”
Ladbrokes, with the support of its owner Entain, has launched a multi-million pound investment programme, Pitching In, designed to support and promote grassroots sports. For more details see: https://entaingroup.com/sustainability/pitching-in/