Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Southampton footballers set new world record for longest match

Longest football match at Southampton
Image caption During the final day, the teams were cheered on by local schoolchildren

A new world record for the longest football match has been set at St Mary's, the home of Southampton FC, after a 102 hour-long charity game.

The 36 players, from the Testlands Support Project, a Southampton charity, played on until 00:30 BST on Friday to break the previous record, of 101 hours.

The players took turns to take breaks to eat, get physiotherapy and sleep.

They began the 11-a-side match at 18:30 on Sunday, scoring over 1,600 goals.

The Reds went on to beat the Whites 910-725.

Image caption Organiser Luke Newman said players were getting about one hour's sleep each time they took a break
Image copyright Testlands Support Project
Image caption A squad of 36 players played in shifts in the bid to beat the previous record
Image caption Players' tents and sleeping bags were drenched during Monday night's storms

Organiser Luke Newman, who was also one of the 36 who took part, said: "The last time I slept was the night before last night and that was probably about an hour.

"Monday night was so bad - I think it must have rained from about eight or nine o'clock in the evening, through to about 11 o'clock in the morning - it was just solid rain.

"We had to play for a 12-hour stint so we couldn't change our clothes.

"The tents all got absolutely soaking wet. The clothes inside and the sleeping bags were just drenched."

Image caption Players took it in turns to take a rest so they could eat and sleep
Image caption Some players conceded the match would put them off playing football for a few weeks

After reading about their plight on Facebook, supporters arrived with dry sleeping bags and supplies.

Each squad was allowed 18 players, but if the number on the pitch at any one time fell below eight, their successful attempt to set the new official world record would have failed.

Sports massage therapist Julie Monteiro said: "The ground is quite hard so they've been having a lot of knee issues from the impact of the ground. Monday was the worst day."

Image caption A sports massage therapist has been on hand to help players continue

Player and event manager Ryan Ship said: "It's been one of those challenges where you just think, you're only going to do it once, so you've got to just live it."

The match was organised to raise money for Testlands Support Project's summer activities for the city's underprivileged children.

It is believed the event has raised funds in the region of £20-25,000.

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