Neil Young’s Marine can engineer the greatest of all FA Cup giant-killings against Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham Hotspur this weekend, write Will Jennings and Paul Martin.
That’s the message from Hayes & Yeading head of press and media Tim Fuell, a non-league fanatic who will never forget his team’s equally thrilling run to the third round proper against Newcastle back in 2005.
Johnson Hippolyte steered his eighth-tier minnows – then known as Yeading before merging with Hayes in 2007 – towards a plum tie 16 years ago after brilliant victories over Halesowen and Slough.
Goals from Lee Bowyer and Shola Ameobi marked the end of the road but Fuell, who also presents the Non-League Show, will never forget the eyes of the footballing world being transfixed on his club for a day.
Tottenham fan Fuell, 46, will have his loyalties tested on Sunday but reckons old friend Young can emulate his first and second round magic and lower the colours of the ‘Special One’ on Merseyside.
“Neil Young’s a great coach and I’ve known him for years,” said Fuell, whose club are supported by Pitching In, the grassroots sport investment programme set up by Ladbrokes owner, Entain.
“We’ve been swapping messages over the Christmas period. It’s one of those pinch me moments – you have to take a deep breath, inhale it all and enjoy every part of it.
“Just look at it as a normal football match until the whistle is blown. They’ve already had some great results in the FA Cup – so who knows?
“I’m a Spurs fan but I’m going to be torn as to where my loyalties will lie.
“The dreamer in me would probably like a Marine result, just because of the story that goes with it. Non-league’s had a real hard time over the past few months and clubs are on the brink.
“There’s an opportunity for someone to really make a name for themselves and gain legendary status.
“As a non-league fan, I’d like Marine to get a result!”
Entain’s flagship, multi-million pound and multi-year partnership with Trident League clubs promotes grassroots sport after the Covid-19 pandemic and combines financial assistance with an emphasis on community and volunteers.
Hayes & Yeading play in the Pitching In Southern League Premier Division South and another non-league side who will be rooting for Marine is Chasetown, who compete in the Pitching In Northern Premier League South East Division.
The Scholars became the first eighth-tier side in history to reach the third round proper in 2007/08 and welcomed eventual finalists Cardiff City, for whom Aaron Ramsey scored in a 3-1 win.
With Marine now following in the Staffordshire club’s footsteps, long-serving Chasetown chairman Mike Joiner is urging Young’s men to savour their own day in the spotlight.
“The FA Cup makes dreams come true,” Joiner said. “It’s similar to our [Cardiff] tie – lads go to work five days a week and then have the chance to play a once-in-a-lifetime match.
“Marine are under immense pressure to comply with everything that’s going on at the moment but I really hope they enjoy it.
“From the players’ point of view, I would say just go out there and do your best. Don’t leave anything in the dressing room.
“You’re not expected to win but this is your cup final, as it was for us 13 years ago.”
Entain, owner of Ladbrokes, has launched a multi-million pound investment programme, Pitching In, designed to support and promote grassroots sports. The programme includes a flagship partnership with The Isthmian, Northern Premier and Southern Leagues - collectively known as The Trident League, as well as a partnership with the UK sports charity SportsAid. For more details see: https://entaingroup.com/sustainability/pitching-in/