Memorial match becomes longest ever football game

The players celebrate at the end of the match. Picture: Ian Georgeson

The players celebrate at the end of the match. Picture: Ian Georgeson

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A MARATHON four-day charity football match has officially broken the Guinness world record for the longest game ever played.

Friends and family of tragic young footballer Craig ­Gowans took to the pitch at Ainslie Park last month to slog it out in aid of the Sick Kids Friends Foundation (SKFF) – chalking up 105 hours on the field and reaching a final score of 774-707.

Craig Gowans. Picture: Contributed

Craig Gowans. Picture: Contributed

The 17-year-old Falkirk player died in July 2005 after a metal pole attached to a training net he was pushing struck 11,000-volt overhead wires.

Devastated relatives set up the Craig Gowans Memorial Fund in his memory and have since raised almost £100,000 through their charity football drive – smashing their original target of £37,000.

Last month’s non-stop match beat the previous contender for longest-game ever by an astonishing 33 hours, and saw a host of close friends and family take to the pitch to celebrate the life of the former Stewart’s Melville College pupil.

Kick-off was on Saturday, July 4 and the final whistle sounded the following Wednesday – marking the ten-year anniversary of Craig’s death. The teenager’s siblings all took it in turns to play, while dad John, 54, from Blackhall, cheered them on from the sidelines.

At the final whistle. Picture: Ian Georgeson

At the final whistle. Picture: Ian Georgeson

Ex-Hibs bosses Alex McLeish and John Hughes attended, while former Falkirk team-mates Scott Arfield and Thomas Scobbie were also on hand to show their support.

Dario Alonzi, a member of the Craig Gowans Memorial Fund organising committee, said: “We’re over the moon to have been officially granted Guinness world record holder status – the football match itself was an epic challenge and one that pushed us all to the very limit.

“To come away from the experience with official recognition of our efforts in the form of a world record, as well as putting Craig’s name in the history books and raising £100,000 to gift to the SKFF, is just priceless.

“Again, I would like to thank absolutely everyone who played a part in making this match possible, as well as everyone who has donated so generously.”

Money raised from the match will be used by the SKFF to fund enhancements to the new Sick Kids hospital at the Royal Infirmary.

Roslyn Neely, SKFF chief executive, said: “The heroic lengths they have gone to in order to raise this money is something that will never be forgotten. Congratulations to the entire team. I’m absolutely delighted to hear they’ve become official Guinness world record holders – and deservedly so.

“The money they have raised will help us transform the experience of the young people who visit Edinburgh’s new children’s hospital when it opens its doors in 2017.”

alistair.grant@edinburghnews.com