If you found it exhausting watching Chelsea and Liverpool's eight-goal thriller at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday night, spare a thought for the players of Leeds Badgers and Bristol Academy.
The teams battled it out for 36 hours at the Bristol Football Academy last weekend, watched by timekeepers from the Guinness World Records. It broke the previous record for the longest ever football match, set by two teams in Alberta, Canada with a 33 hour, 36 minute effort.
The match was held in aid of the Meningitis Trust, and was supported by Liverpool legend Ian Rush MBE, who called the players “truly amazing” after their tiring feat (and equally tiring feet). Rush contracted meningitis when he was five and spent a month in an oxygen tent, but survived with no lasting effects and went on to win 73 caps for Wales.
“I was one of the lucky ones, but I know there are many people who are not so fortunate," said Rush. "The trust’s work is really important, and I am inspired when I hear what people are doing to help.
“This group of players are truly amazing. Rather them than me for trying to play football for all that time.”
Leeds Badgers and Bristol Academy were each allowed 18-man squads, with each member playing at least 18 hours in total, and in every position. A five-minute break was taken every hour. The final score was 285-255, but this had to be counted up afterwards with players forgetting the score during the course of the match. They had to consult video and logbook evidence to find out who had won.
Two years ago, Badgers player Jamie Burdett, a 27-year-old philosophy student at Leeds University, died from meningitis. The team arranged a 12-hour football marathon in his honour, raising £2000 for the Meningitis Trust, but decided this year to go for the world record and play a 36-hour match. Another £10,000 was raised, mostly for the Trust, with part of the money going to Kids Adventure, which runs holidays for children referred by social services.