Marine defender Joshua Solomon-Davies admitted he screamed with joy when his side were drawn against Tottenham in the FA Cup third round.
The Northern Premier League North West Division club’s historic run was rewarded with the biggest mismatch of all time as Spurs, placed 161 rungs above the non-league side, visit on Sunday.
Marine’s squad is made up of teachers, NHS workers, bin men and factory workers, with the highest-paid player earning between £200 and £300 a week.
Spurs’ top stars have a few extra noughts on their pay packet, so the chance for Solomon-Davies to pit his wits against them was reason to cheer.
“I never expected it. When I saw the draw I’m not going to lie, I did scream to myself,” he said. “I was so shocked when I saw we were playing Tottenham, I never expected it to happen so soon.
“It’s a chance for me to see how good I am compared to those players and if I can compete with them. It’s going to be a good test.
“I guess like everyone else we can see them every week playing in the Premier League so it’s not as hard to find clips as it is in our league.
“I’ve looked at a few players who might play on my side of the pitch so it’s not hard to find, so I’ve been watching on YouTube the likes of Son (Heung-min).
“I got asked before about playing against Son and (Harry) Kane but whoever plays is going to be a big player for anyone in our league. It’s going to be great so I can’t wait.”
Marine’s preparations have been put to the test as coronavirus regulations and the freezing weather have provided logistical challenges this week.
The eighth-tier club have not played since Boxing Day as their league has been suspended in the wake of the latest lockdown measures.
But boss Neil Young says the break might have helped his squad.
“I think for this one it has potentially,” he said. “It has helped us get a couple of lads back fit who were struggling with a few knocks.
“It has been quite difficult to get training venues because of the lockdown and that’s the reality of part-time football.
“It’s allowed us to have a bit more time to think about Tottenham Hotspur.
“We’ve worked with the whole squad so when we go through the shape they’re all aware of different roles and responsibilities.
“We’ve put them in all different positions in terms of who might play and who might not play, so if they have to come in at the last minute on Sunday they will be fully aware of what their responsibilities are within that role.
“We’ve got a good group of lads and it is difficult preparation-wise with it being so late.”
While no fans will be permitted inside the Marine Travel Arena due to coronavirus restrictions, more than 10,000 virtual tickets have been sold to help raise funds for the club.
A club statement read: “Marine is overwhelmed by the support it has received from the supporters of Tottenham Hotspur and the wider football community. It is amazing to see the way football comes together during these times.
“When Marine launched this initiative it targeted 600 ticket sales with the intention of raising a substantial amount to support Marine Football Club. To have sold 10,000 is beyond our wildest of dreams and expectations.”
Get the best features, fun and footballing frolics straight to your inbox every week.
Thank you for signing up to Four Four Two. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.