Can FA Cup minnows Marine really beat Tottenham and Jose Mourinho’s

Neil Young’s FA Cup campaign started on the opening day of September when he trekked up to Darwen to spy on Marine AFC’s preliminary round opponents, Barnoldswick.

The managerial research almost backfired. Barnoldswick led 10-man Marine 1-0 with three minutes left until Ryan Wignall and Josh Hmami scored to kickstart an unprecedented journey.

‘To this day, we’re not sure if the winning free-kick crossed the line but the flag went up to signal a goal,’ says Young, who capitalised by winning six more ties and is about to swap his regular job at Merseyrail in order to pit his wits against Jose Mourinho.

Neil Young is preparing his Marine side for the biggest game in the non-league club's history

Neil Young is preparing his Marine side for the biggest game in the non-league club’s history

So, who are Marine? 

  • Non-League club founded in 1894 and based in Crosby, Merseyside.
  • Sixth in the Northern Premier League Division One North-West in English football’s eighth tier.
  • Only previous appearance in the FA Cup third round ended in a 3-1 defeat at Crewe in 1993.
  • Received £83,000 to improve their Rossett Park ground on their 125th anniversary in 2019.
  • They were three minutes from losing their FA Cup preliminary round tie against Barnoldswick.
  • Captain and PE teacher Niall Cummins wanted Spurs in the draw — as he supports Arsenal.
  • Goalkeeper Bayleigh Passant went viral buying drinks at a Co-op in full kit to celebrate reaching the third round.
  • Wayne Rooney’s uncle Billy Morrey is one of the best strikers in Marine’s history.
  • Roly Howard, Kenny Dalglish’s window-cleaner, was Marine manager for 33 years.
  • They wear black and gold and are nicknamed The Mariners.


Eighth-tier Marine from Northern Premier League Division One North-West will be the biggest underdogs in the competition’s history when they welcome Premier League Tottenham to Rossett Park next Sunday, the only sadness being that no fans will be inside to watch.

The managers’ CVs couldn’t be more different, Cammell Laird compared with Real Madrid, but Mourinho will appreciate Young’s dedication to reach his dream.

‘If you had to give me a label, I guess it could be the Diligent One,’ says the balding and bearded 45-year-old Marine boss. ‘My playing career ended because of a recurring dislocated shoulder so I took my first manager’s job at 24 with Queen’s Park in the Birkenhead Sunday League.

‘Since then, few people would say anyone works harder. I like to be part of a team and that team is part of me.

‘I was assistant at Rhyl when we drew Viking Stavanger in the Intertoto Cup. Roy Hodgson was their manager and dropped us into town after we flew to Norway to scout them. There I was, a young lad chatting football to this very famous manager. It gave me an idea of what could be possible.

‘I became a manager myself. At Chester FC, we had no ground, no players, no kit and no balls or bibs when I was appointed. We won three promotions in a row as champions, the first time it’s ever been done.

‘As a manager, you know you’ll always get more s*** than bouquets. When I resigned at Altrincham in 2016, I…

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