The Guinness World Record for the longest continuous game of football was smashed over the Bank Holiday weekend by 36 footballing heroes in Stretford.
The previous record for an 11-a-side game stood at 62 hours but Nick Rose and his brothers-in-arms went ten better – playing for a full three days.
The Stockport sales manager organised the marathon match in aid of Francis House Children’s Hospice, with the total raised so far exceeding their £25,000 target.
“I’m just really chuffed, it’s been really difficult throughout and from day one it’s been a challenge – but the boys were amazing,” said the 26-year-old.
“There’ve been lots of highs and lots of lows but we’ve got through them together.
“The low points were really low and I thought it might all fall apart but the mental strength of the guys it what’s got us to the end.”
The match was filmed and detailed by dedicated volunteers on the side-lines with the evidence soon to be sent off to Guinness to be ratified.
But even if the record is not given the Guinness stamp of approval Rose said all the planning, doubts and pain was worth it.
“We’ve achieved something much bigger than just a game of football in the last three days,” he added.
“It started off as a crazy idea 12 months ago and now we’ve done it.
“The pain barrier got left behind a long time ago, I’ve had probably two hours sleep in the last three nights and it’s the same for the rest – but what a feeling now.”
Francis House Children’s Hospice is close to Nick’s heart having seen the help they give terminally ill children through friends of his 18-year-old sister, who has severe learning difficulties.
And as the driving force behind the game, it seemed only fitting that he scored the 1065th and final goal, from the penalty spot, with just minutes to play.
“It was a little bit obvious what was going on, if the game was left to run its natural course I wouldn’t have scored the winner,” he said.
“But I did score at least 20 I reckon, with a class free-kick in there somewhere.
“All 36 players scored, there were a couple who only got two or three but we all got one in the end.”
Nick’s side emerged victorious in the 1000-goal thriller, beating opposing captain Paul Logan’s side 603-462.
But Logan had no complaints at the final whistle and could not quite believe what both teams had achieved.
“I feel absolutely amazing, it’s unbelievable. I wasn’t expecting how emotional it was going to be at the end,” said the 36-year-old.
“I thought we’d all clap each other off, shake hands, have a quick beer and then off home.
“But there are lads that have obviously gone through 72 hours of hell and at the end just broke down and got a bit emotional – it’s quite touching.”
Given the circumstances, the standard of football on show in the final hour was remarkable to behold, but Logan admitted there were tough and lonely times.
“During the night, when there’re only four guys on the side-line trying to gee each other up and it’s freezing cold, then it’s difficult,” he added.
“But as soon as people start showing up it’s amazing how the human connection makes an absolutely massive difference.”
And while Rose was the brainchild of the event, Logan said he could not pass up the opportunity to be part of something so special.
“Nick rang me one day and wanted a partner in crime – it was a no-brainer for me, I said yes straight away,” added the business development manager from Sale.
“But we’ve raised a bucket-load of money for Francis House and that’s the most important thing.”
Francis House fundraising office Kate Puc has been working with Rose and supported the players every day, but she did have concerns they might not make it.
“Half way through they were hobbling and looked like they wouldn’t get there,” she said.
“But through sheer determination to keep each other going they did, and the adrenaline towards the end was amazing – they were playing like it was a normal football match.”
With over £20,000 raised through their JustGiving web page and each player raising £500 their initial target has already been surpassed, and Puc could not thank them enough.
“God bless them, at times I felt so sorry for them but now they’re celebrating in style.”