A bar transformed into a makeshift changing room.
One tiny stand with fewer than 400 seats.
And just a brick wall separating the gardens of overlooking houses from the dugouts on the narrow touchline.
The home of Marine’s team of part-timers in the eighth division of English football will be a world away from the luxuries Tottenham’s millionaires and manager Jose Mourinho are used to when they show up on Merseyside on Sunday for an FA Cup match.
“When I saw the draw come out,” Marine defender Josh Solomon-Davies says, “I did scream to myself.”
The northwest coastal town of Crosby will provide very humble surroundings for the biggest mismatch in the history of the FA Cup.
With 161 spots separating Tottenham from Marine in the English football pyramid, never before has the gulf been so great between teams paired in the 150 years of world football’s oldest cup competition.
While Tottenham are fourth in the Premier League and in the Champions League places, Marine are sixth in the Northern Premier League Division One North West.
“We are an eighth-tier team playing against World Cup winners (Hugo Lloris) and Golden Boot winners (Harry Kane),” Marine striker Niall Cummins says. “You don’t get that anywhere else.”
While Tottenham’s players can earn hundreds of thousands of pounds a week, there is a maximum weekly wage of 300 pounds ($A525) for Marine’s squad, featuring semi-professionals working by day in healthcare, garbage collection, car factories, and schools.
“Every kid has given me some stick. ‘Are you going to do this to this player, are you going to score, whose shirt are you going to ask for?”‘ the secondary school teacher Cummins says.
“Then you’re thinking if you do something bad then you are going to be a GIF by the end of the week.”
The match will be broadcast live in Britain on the BBC’s main channel and in 40 territories worldwide.
But with the latest pandemic lockdown preventing fans attending any sport in England, the Marine Travel Arena will be limited to only directors from both clubs and the media, alongside those playing, coaching and officiating.
“It’s three-sided, a very tight ground, houses on two sides, big stand behind one of the goals – it’s a proper non-league ground,” Marine manager Neil Young says.
“Tottenham won’t be getting changed in the dressing room – they’ll be getting changed in the bar area.”
Due to a tightening of coronavirus restrictions halting their league, Marine haven’t played in two weeks and their preparations for defending against Harry Kane, Son Heung-min and Gareth Bale have basically been watching clips on YouTube.
Marine have been receiving assistance from more illustrious teams about 20 minutes away on Merseyside, with Everton and Liverpool allowing them to use their training grounds.
Liverpool have even helped out with tactical preparation by sending recordings for match analysis.
“We haven’t got the scouting networks or the software to go back and look at games,” manager Young says.
Despite a congested fixture schedule and far more demanding opposition coming up, Tottenham will be showing Marine respect by fielding a strong side.
“To show respect to them,”says Mourinho, “is to play with a good team, with a team with responsibility, with a team with motivation – and to beat them.”