arine defender David Raven hopes yesterday’s FA Cup tie against Tottenham can transform the eighth-tier club over the next decade but admitted it “wasn’t actually enjoyable” facing Jose Mourinho‘s side on the night.
One of the best runs in the competition’s history came to an end last night, as Marine – only the second eighth-tier club to reach the third-round – went down 5-0 to Premier League Spurs, 160 places above them in the pyramid.
The Crosby club, who pay their part-time players between £100-300-a-week, are set to pocket over £400,000 from TV revenue, sponsorship and the sales of virtual match-day tickets, which surpassed 30,000 last night.
Raven says the windfall can act as a springboard to propel the Northern Premier League Division One side up the pyramid after being run ragged by Spurs.
“I do [think it could change the club] if we do right,” Raven said. “We’ve obviously earned a lot of money from it. If we invest it in the right places, it could see us through the next ten years and properly set us up. We’ve got a chairman who’s an accountant so he knows what he’s doing. We could climb the leagues if we do it right.
“They didn’t do anything that surprised me,” Raven, who played four games for Liverpool as a teenager, said of Spurs. “You can talk about shape all you want but when you’re playing a player who’s bigger, stronger and faster than you, there’s not a lot you can do sometimes.
“When you saw [Moussa] Sissoko striding through the middle, it was like a stream train. The change of pace they have, the movement…
“[I was] trying to get up tight against Lucas Moura, and the tighter I get the more worried I am, because he’s just going to roll me. He didn’t even break a sweat at times.
“I knew the game wasn’t actually going to be enjoyable. I said that to my family. It was more about the build up and how you feel after. It was more the experience for the club that we’ll look back on.”
Carlos Vinicius bagged a first-half hat-trick and Lucas scored a direct free-kick as Spurs crushed Marine with four goals in 17 first-half minutes before Alfie Devine, 16, came off the bench to become the London club’s youngest-ever scorer.
After their day in the spotlight, Marine’s immediate future is far from clear. With non-elite football suspended during lockdown, Raven fears that yesterday could have been the club’s final game of the season and he is considering retirement.
If he does not return to the pitch, there will be remarkable symmetry to a career spent in the lower leagues, which began with a professional debut against Spurs in the League Cup quarter-final for Rafa Benitez’s Liverpool 17 years ago.
“If it was another lockdown like last time, another six months out of the game for myself, it might well be my last game,” he said.
“If we’re going to finish, we’ve finished on a high and we’ll go again when the league starts up again. But it’s sad times for non-league. Real sad times.
“We have to protect non-league. We were representing our family, if you like – all of part-time football. I’ve had so many texts off different teams and different clubs. They’re proud of us and we represented them. It’s not nice to get beat but I hope we did them proud.”
Raven’s sentiments were echoed by Marine manager Neil Young, who said: “The cup run has been a lifesaver for us financially for where we are in non-league. There has been no help for teams in Step 3 and below. Hopefully we have made non-league proud, but we have just got to take the positives of the whole run and what it will do for our football club.
“This could be our last game of the season. I wanted to get all the lads in, we don’t know what is coming next and I just wanted to make sure we had a huddle and told them how well they have done.”