Niall Cummins ‘idolises’ Son Heung-min and Harry Kane – but has absolutely no interest in brushing shoulders with Tottenham’s deadly duo this weekend, writes Will Jennings.
The Marine skipper leads his troops into battle against Jose Mourinho’s Premier League high-flyers bidding to complete the greatest of all FA Cup giant killings.
Striker Cummins, 27, is a huge admirer of Spurs’ 100-goal marksman but hopes the ‘Special One’ keeps his big guns well away from the Marine Travel Arena.
“I was really hoping he showed the cup no respect because we want to play against the kids,” said Cummins, whose Northern Premier League Division One North West team are supported by Pitching In, a multi-million pound, multi-year grassroots sport investment launched by Ladbrokes owner Entain.
— Marine Football Club (@MarineAFC) January 9, 2021
“You don’t want to play against all these top players, do you? As a non-league player, you want to play against the best players in the world at some stage and with this cup competition, it gives you the chance to do it.
“It will be brilliant for the club, the players, everyone to see the best players whether you’re on the pitch or on the sidelines. It will be a great experience, but it won’t help us if they bring all the big guns.
“Everyone goes on about Harry Kane, he’s the same position as me and he’s a fantastic person but I must admit, I idolise Son.
“His work ethic, his passion for the game, his commitment. Any time that I coach, teach or do anything – he’s the sort of role model I’m making sure [children] look up to. He’s number one for me.”
Marine’s run to the third round has captured hearts after the club were recent beneficiaries of Entain’s Pitching In programme, which promotes grassroots sport after the Covid-19 pandemic and combines financial assistance with an emphasis on community and volunteers.
Neil Young’s side toppled Chester and Colchester to set up the FA Cup’s biggest ever mismatch, with a whole 161 league places separated Spurs and the eighth-tier minnows.
Marine, a team assembled of binmen, NHS workers and teachers – including Cummins – have sought to recoup lost gate receipts through a virtual ticketing scheme and have now sold all 6,400 virtual tickets.
We have now sold 6,400 virtual tickets. The record has been broken! Thank you all.
As a permanent thank you, we will be creating a board at the Crosender Road End of the ground which will contain the full name of EVERY ticket holder as an everlasting reminder of your support. pic.twitter.com/sI9K5kKzAS
— Marine Football Club (@MarineAFC) January 8, 2021
And they also received the assistance of Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool in analysing Mourinho’s team after training at Everton’s Finch Farm on Thursday.
Young’s side will train using Liverpool’s facilities on Saturday and Cummins, who hails from the Isle of Man, is relishing a duel with Spurs on the Marine Travel Arena turf.
“Why would I want to go to the Spurs stadium and run around on a carpet for 90 minutes and get bopped off the pitch?” he told talkSPORT.
“It’s an absolute no brainer to come to our place. I know the chairman wouldn’t thank me for saying that but from a football context, we want to have a chance of doing well in this game.”
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/