'Mate, do you want to break a world record for the longest ever game of 5 aside football?'
This is the type of question I both dread and relish. The type of question that comes along at disturbingly frequent intervals these days. I’d played football with Tarran in 2007 when I moved to London but we hadn’t seen each other for years.
And then he comes back into my life with this kind of offer. What kind of friend would do that?!
I didn’t think for long. My already weary mind cast back to late 2010 when my friend Seb and I stayed awake for 72 hours on the trot, wandering the streets of Melbourne and going on radio shows and speed dating, all the while trying desperately to stop dribble falling out of our mouths. It’s not the activity that gets you, it’s the lack of sleep. It’s quite horrible, actually.
But it’s worth it, saying yes to a mad caper like this. It’s healthy to be tested to your limits, even if it feels like the most unhealthy thing you could do during the act.
A few days after Tarran posed the question we were there playing beneath an underpass at the Westway Sports centre in West London. The pace had slowed considerably and players were falling like flies. Our bodies were betraying us. With over £5500 raised for Inspiring Futures Uganda, a new world record left in our wake after 43 hours of playing and that now familiar awakening of human kindness proven by all the sponsors, referees and witnesses who gave their time to supporting us, the final whistle blew at 46 hours and 23 minutes.
Had we not already been on our knees, we would have fallen to them.
The final score was 870 to 517. I now have the dubious honour of captaining one of the teams in the longest ever game of 5 aside. The losing team, no less. I scored 85 goals. Lost 3kg in weight. Needed 5 good nights of sleep to recover (that’s a prediction, I’ve only had four and need at least one more.)
A huge thanks to all the volunteers who came out at all times of day and night to ensure the Guinness World Record stipulations were met. And thank you to the Westway Sports Centre, Natural Hero, Natural Balance Foods/ Trek Bars, Trailhead Beef Jerky and Octopus Clinic for all of your support.
If there are any spare pennies floating around waiting to be donated, here’s the link. Thanks ever so much. That’s world record number 7 in the bag!