2021 FA Cup Third Round Sunday: Scenes and Stories

Paul Gerald · Profile
2021 FA Cup Third Round Sunday: Scenes and Stories

Since we love the FA Cup Third Round here at Groundhopper Guides, we decided to gather up some scenes and stories from this weekend, when Championship and Premier League clubs entered the tournament.

We wrote a separate post covering Friday’s and Saturday’s stories, so we’ll start this post with Day 3 of the 2020-21 FA Cup Third Round.

Crawley Town 3-0 Leeds United

We awake to the news of Leeds United of the Premier League not just losing to little old Crawley Town but getting whipped — and #LUFC on Twitter is absolute carnage.

Their keeper had a bad day, so…

There also was a lot of this stuff:

The rest of it was… well, I didn’t realize one could be “in a cunt of a mood,” but apparently some Leeds fans are this morning.

For a final insult, at the end of the game, Crawley — a club in the southern suburbs of London that has spent all of one season above the fourth tier — sent on 33-year-old Mark Wright, a former Tottenham youth player who didn’t add up to much as a player but is now apparently some kind of reality TV star trying to have another shot at being a pro. An English friend told me it’s not far from “‘The Real Housewives of Atlanta’ ladies suddenly playing pro football.” With Leeds so well beaten, dude got his club debut!

Marine 0-5 Tottenham Hotspur

aerial view of Rossett Park stadium during FA Cup third round marine vs tottenham

Aerial view of Marine’s home ground in Crosby, Merseyside.

On, then, to the day’s main event, Marine FC vs Tottenham, in the largest gap between opponents in history. This lovely piece in The Guardian has some background and thoughts on why this all matters so much, and this from the BBC puts things in perspective: While the money coming in from this Cup run will help Marine immensely, thanks to Covid they have no idea when their next game is happening. League play below tier 6 in the league pyramid — and Marine are in the eighth — is currently shut down.

As the BBC story says, “Marine’s players, who include NHS workers, teachers and a refuse collector, earn a maximum £300 per week.” And they are all furloughed as of Monday.

So the team sold “virtual tickets” for £10 each, which included a raffle for various prizes that included managing the team in a friendly. Even Spurs manager Jose Mourinho bought one.

And how were sales?

@TomClarke40, who runs Marine’s Twitter feed, got a lot of love during the game. A couple of the highlights:

Marine actually hit the crossbar before Spurs scored; had that gone in, I don’t think the internet would have survived. Alas, it was 4-0 at halftime, a ratio of goals-per-minute that didn’t bode well for the Mariners. Spurs’ last goal was courtesy not of the aforementioned and highly regarded Gareth Bale but 16-year-old local boy Alfie Devine, who became Spurs’ youngest scorer ever!

Otherwise, I spent the second half grabbing images such as these:

Mourinho and Spurs coaches on sidelines at Marine Stadium

Mourinho, the Spurs coaches, and folks lucky enough to live by the ground.

BBC announcer Wright wearing a Marine FC hat

Wright, who played for Arsenal, wore a Marine FC hat during the broadcast. Always having a go at Spurs fans.

Tottenham Hotspur players in tunnel at Marine Rossett Park Stadium

Spurs players in probably the smallest tunnel they’ve been in for years. They changed in the club bar!

Marine FC fans in their garden watching the Tottenham game

The broadcast had plenty of images like this, people in their back garden having a bevvy and enjoying the game.

The Athletic sign at Marine vs Tottenham FA Cup

The Athletic sponsored Marine for the day; the numbers correspond to the address of the house, should they have to send a ballboy around to get the ball back from them!

The BBC game report said that due to Covid, the players weren’t allowed to swap shirts, so Tottenham brought a fresh one for everybody on the Marine squad. Also, there was this little note: “After the final whistle, Marine’s players applauded the fans who had been encouraging the team from their back gardens.”

Newport County 1-1 Brighton and Hove Albion (Brighton win on penalties)

A bizarre game that was so boring for 90 minutes that I swear most of the commentary was about the pitch — which, to be fair, looked like crap.

ugly soccer pitch Newport County vs Brighton FA Cup Third Round

I don’t think Premier League Brighton have to deal with this sort of thing too often.

Brighton scored in the 91st minute to go up, 1-0, at which point everybody thought, “Right, that’s that.” So Newport County subbed in 41-year-old Kevin Ellison. He started his career at Southport in 1996 and since has played for Chorley, Conwy United, Altrincham, Leicester City, Stockport County, Lincoln City, Chester City (twice), Hull City, Tranmere Rovers, Rotherham United, Bradford City, and Morecambe before joining his current club, who play in League Two and are, appropriately I’d say, called The Exiles.

He obviously thought he would be on for about 30 seconds and seemed determined to spend it sharing a laugh with Brighton defender Lewis Dunk:

Kevin Ellison Lewis Dunk FA Cup Third Round

These two were just having a friendly chat at the end of the game.

Except Brighton then scored an own goal on the last kick of the game, sending it into extra time. That led to penalties, in which the Brighton keeper — almost completely responsible for the tying goal — saved three penalties and talked a pile of shit with somebody behind the goal. Brighton finally won it and, no doubt, left town without even changing.

But that wasn’t even the weirdest thing! As I watched on Twitter, I began to notice something funny: a lot of posts about and from South Africa. Turns out Brighton had sent in one Percy Tau, only the 13th South African to sign in the Premier League, and just the second in the last 10 years. Because of something to do with visas, he’s been on loan in Europe for three years, so this was his debut. And one would be forgiven for thinking all of South Africa was on Twitter, cheering him on — but mostly abusing Brighton players for not giving him the ball.

Brighton’s No. 11, especially, might want to avoid South Africa.

Hey, no. 11, give #PercyTau the damn ball!

Tau did a couple of decent things, I suppose. He did blow one decent chance over the bar — no doubt because of the pitch.

And, this being Twitter, the smart-asses eventually jumped onto #PercyTau:

This is why I love the Internet, and why we love the FA Cup Third Round. Can’t wait for the Fourth Round Draw on Monday, to see who has to deal with Crawley, Chorley, and some of the other little clubs still hanging in there. There’s also West Ham’s visit to Stockport County on Monday. Who knows what sort of weirdness that will serve up!

Written By Paul Gerald
Paul Gerald, Owner and Founder of Groundhopper Soccer Guides · Profile
Paul is a traveler, writer, publisher and soccer freak. He started Groundhopper Soccer Guides as EnglishSoccerGuide.com in 2014. When he's not kicking around England working on this site and his book, you can find him at Providence Park in Portland, cheering on the Portland Timbers.

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