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Spurs Odyssey FA Cup Preview - Spurs v Morecambe, 09.01.22

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These minnows are Shrimps!

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(Thanks to Declan Mulcahy for some of the information provided here)

In recent years, Spurs have had several games against FA Cup minnows such as Wycombe Wanderers (Round 4 – 2017), AFC Wimbledon, Newport, and Rochdale (Rounds 3, 4 & 5 – 2018), Tranmere (Round 3 – 2019), and famously last year AFC Marine in the Third Round. We also played Wycombe again last year, but they were a Championship side, whereas in 2017 “The Chairboys” had been in League Two. Our opponents this weekend are not minnows, but “Shrimps” for that is the nickname of Morecambe Football Club.

This will be our first competitive match against Morecambe, who were promoted into the Football League for the 2007/08 season after winning the 2007 Conference (now Vanarama National League) play-off at Wembley. They were promoted into League One for 2021/22 after finishing fourth in League Two in 2020/21. The Lancashire side beat Newport in last year’s League Two play-off final 1-0. They have never won automatic promotion (as distinct from play-offs) or been relegated since the club was formed.

When we played Rochdale in 2018, Morecambe were included in a list of 9 Football League clubs we had never played. The others were Accrington Stanley, Barnet, Burton Albion, Crawley Town, Fleetwood Town, Forest Green Rovers, Shrewsbury Town, and Yeovil Town. Since then, Barnet and Yeovil have dropped out of the Football League but there are four new teams Barrow, Harrogate Town, Salford City and Sutton United. So, the list has increased from nine to eleven.

Morecambe are, of course, based in Lancashire and their nickname relates to the trade for which the town is famous – potted shrimps. They regard their local rivals to be Accrington Stanley. Morecambe entered the Football League for the 2007-08 season managed by former Manchester United player Sammy McIlroy. After fourteen years in League Two, this is their first season in League One.

Their longest serving manager was Jim Bentley from May 2011 to October 2019. For the last sixteen months of his tenure, he was the longest serving manager in the top four divisions of English football. Other facts of interest are:-

1. Biggest Football League win 6-0 v Crawley Town 10 September 2011
2. Biggest Defeat 0-7 v Cambridge United FL2 19 April 2016; Newcastle United League Cup 3rd Round 23 September 2020.
3. Only hat-trick in the Football League Jon Newby v Rotherham U FL2 29 March 2008.

Currently 19th in League One, Morecambe beat Newport County 1-0 at home in the first round before toppling Northern Premier League side Buxton 1-0 away in the second round.

Morecambe were founded in 1920 and played their first ever FA Cup tie (a preliminary round) in the same year. Their best achievement has been to reach the Third Round in 1962 (Weymouth), 2001 (Ipswich), and 2003 (Ipswich again). The result in 2003 was 4-0 when former Spur Jamie Clapham (1) and future Spurs Darren Bent (2) both scored for Ipswich. The "Shrimps" also reached this stage last year when they lost 4-0 to Chelsea.

Morecambe have a former Spur in their current squad. Attacking forward Jonathan Obika is now 31. He was born in Enfield and played in Spurs Academy and Development teams. Jonathan made 4 first team appearances for Spurs. In November 2008 he was an 83rd minute substitute when we played NEC Nijmegen and played the full 90 minutes in a 1-1 home draw against Shakhtar Donetsk in February, 2009. In the 2012-13 season, Jonathan was a substitute in a league cup win at Carlisle and an FA Cup defeat at Leeds. After a number of loan outings, Obika finally left Spurs for Swindon in 2014 and has since played for Oxford United and St Mirren before joining Morecambe this season. He, more than anybody will be licking his lips at the prospect of playing in our new stadium in front of a sizeable crowd, including many travelling fans. Jonathan has only made 4 appearances for his new club – all in the last month – and scored in their last game which was a 4-3 win over Doncaster.

Morecambe are managed by 47-year-old Steven Robinson, who spent the last five years managing Motherwell in Scotland. As a player, Robinson’s career also started at Tottenham, and he made two Premier League appearances (one of which was as substitute) in 1993 against Blackburn and QPR. Most of Steve’s playing career was with Bournemouth and Luton. Unfortunately, Morecambe have announced today (Saturday) that their manager will not traavel as he has tested positive for Covid and has to self-isolate. Assistant Manager Diarmuid O’Carroll will be in charge of the team.

27-year-old Cole Stockton is Morecambe’s leading scorer with 15 league goals to his name, plus 3 in cup competitions. 23-year-old midfielder Adam Phillips who is a Burnley loanee comes next with 6 goals. Kyle Letheren, whose last club was Chesterfield, is Morecambe’s regular goalkeeper.

In any circumstances, Spurs would surely be resting most of the players they want to use against Chelsea in the second leg of our Carabao Cup semi-final next Wednesday. It turns out that Heung-min Son is going to be out of action for two weeks now anyway with a muscle injury. Harry Kane must surely be rested, but who will lead the line? Perhaps Lucas Moura, although Dane Scarlett is once again fit and may start. 20-year-old striker Kion Etete was recalled this week from his loan at Northampton, but I do not feel he is ready to challenge for a first team place.

Harvey White and Dilan Markanday could well see action in this game. Markanday is an attacking midfielder who has scored 11 goals for the under 23s this season, whilst Harvey White can play defensively in midfield, or at left back. Harvet is handy at dead ball situations too! There are a number of first team squad players who will surely be in contention, such as Gollini, Rodon, Sessegnon, Dele, Lo Celso, and Ndombele. Antonio will want to have some strength on the bench, just in case, but his selected team ought to pot the “Shrimps” comfortably. I’ll say 3-0. The match kicks off at 2pm on Sunday and has not been selected for TV coverage.

A year ago, we were part of one of the greatest FA Cup stories when we were drawn against AFC Marine. Spurs have invited a delegation from Marine to tomorrow's game. In a message from their club president Marine said:-

"We at Marine FC jumped at the chance to come to the Tottenham Stadium on Sunday to say a huge thank you to all the Spurs fans who have helped to change our club hopefully forever.

With help of Spurs and other global football fans who bought some 33,000 virtual tickets for a game nobody could attend, it has changed our clubs future.

The monies generated have helped us transform our small stadium and facilities, with new and improved boundary fencing and applications in for a new pitch, terracing, access gates and working towards increased capacity.

(We have) a new sports bar and our hospitality suite which Spurs used as their changing room for the game, also installing a new kitchen allowing us to provide our own hospitality.

Awareness of Marine has been astonishing since that historic day, with an average gate of 1,100 this season more than double previously , including our highest league match attendance in the clubs history of 2,150"

Marine were knocked out of this season's FA Cup in the Fourth qualifying round by Wrexham.

Match referee John Brooks is usually seen in The Championship, although he has recently had charge of two Premier League games. The last of these was at Goodison Park last week when Brighton ran out 3-2 winners. Mr. Brooks has never been in the middle for a senior Spurs game, although he has in the past regularly been an assistant for Mike Dean.

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