Once upon a time, David Raven made his Liverpool debut against Tottenham – now one last hurrah comes against the same opposition.
Raven is a well-known face in Scottish football, having made himself a modern day Inverness Caledonian Thistle hero in their 2015 Scottish Cup victory run. But his current side are about to go mainstream, Marine A.F.C. A magical FA Cup run has brought them to the third round.
In that time, the eighth-tier side, who play in the Northern Premier League Division One North West, have toppled League Two and National League opposition.
Tottenham wait for them now, Jose Mourinho’s team currently flying high in the quest for Premier League glory. Such occasions were a thing of the past for Raven, or so he thought.
“I 100% thought games like this were past me,” Raven told NTOF. “The level we are at with Marine, it’s the eighth tier. When you put everything into perspective, it’s just an amazing achievement for us to get to the third round.
“To beat the teams we beat and come to this is brilliant. It’s a dream tie in terms of putting us up against the best. It’s a record in terms of the amount of space between two teams in the FA Cup!
“Never before has there been such a gap between two teams so it’ll be an interesting afternoon. Tottenham could play a second or third string and give us a hiding but we know we can frustrate them and the game is at our place.
“If it was at Tottenham it would have been different, a long slick pitch, that would have been a long afternoon. Our pitch isn’t bad but it isn’t Tottenham! They might not be up for the game as much as we are.
“You buy a lottery ticket because you think you can win the lottery even though the chances of winning are slim. Against Tottenham, the chances of us winning are slim, but there’s a chance and we’ll give it everything.”
No Tottenham jersey swaps
Currently working full-time in education, Raven’s had pupils come and speak with him of the tie, what he’ll do when potentially trying to shackle Harry Kane, one of football’s best strikers. There’s one thing he won’t do when Mourinho and Tottenham come to town.
“The students have been speaking to me, I’ve had some pretty decent conversations with them,” explained Raven. “They ask ‘how are you going to prepare to play against Harry Kane?’
“He’s just a normal guy, I’ll do my normal, I’ll see what I can do. I asked them what they would do. They said they would ask for his autograph first, swap shirts with him at the end, all these things!
“I’ll tell you right now I won’t do any of those things. I’ll be trying 100% to put him off his game. It’s quite funny listening to them. I have never been an advocate for swapping shirts and all that.
“They are just people at the end of the day. Extraordinary jobs in extraordinary positions in terms of they have played at World Cups and stuff. But by asking for their shirt, you elevate them to a position where they are so much better than you.
“I just think you do yourself an injustice. What am I going to do with Gareth Bale’s shirt? My missus doesn’t want that on the wall, she doesn’t know who he is! It’d end up in the loft probably.”
A momentous occasion
Raven’s looking forward to all the build-up this brings. The next month will bring about attention like never before at Marine, but after becoming a cult hero with Inverness, enjoying days at Hampden and featuring for Liverpool, Raven’s used to the big occasions.
But even for him, this one is massive and he’s aware that it’s huge for everyone involved. They might need to get Rossett Park cleaned for Mourinho’s arrival, but all that comes with this match is a dream.
“Mourinho is an absolute superstar,” said Raven of the Tottenham boss. “We laughed about it the other day, Mourinho coming to our ground. My manager was laughing his head off, saying ‘can you imagine Mourinho coming to our ground and sitting on the seagull s**t on that bench there?’
“We’ll give it a wipe before he sits down! We’ll need to give everything a wipe with how things are with Covid-19. I’m interested to listen to Mourinho on the side and his information.
“I remember listening to Brendan Rodgers when we played Celtic, I enjoyed listening to him. We used to get a doing by Rodgers’ team, he had them drilled and they all knew what they were doing.
“So I’m looking forward to Mourinho’s chat. The week building up to it… the club have even employed a media guy to deal with what’s coming as we are expecting it to get mental.
“The lads should make the most of it and get themselves out there. We have some good lads who have fallen out of professional football or just been unlucky with whatever. This is a massive showcase for them.
“It’s an amazing challenge to see what you are like against these boys. If you look at it like that, it takes away the fear, see where it takes you. It’s exciting for me at this stage in my career.
“The magic is very much alive and it’s kept our local community alive. It’s put a smile on people’s faces and it’s got people dreaming. Our local team is doing this, let’s get behind them.”
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