Four-day football game set to enter record books

Post-match celebrations after the end of the marathon game. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Post-match celebrations after the end of the marathon game. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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The friends and family of a young football star who was electrocuted during training have completed a record-breaking four-day charity football match in his memory.

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

Friends and relatives set up the Craig Gowans Memorial Fund in memory of the talented 17-year-old – who was just two weeks into his professional contract with Falkirk – and have since raised thousands of pounds for Edinburgh’s Sick Kids Friends Foundation.

And on Wednesday night the final whistle blew on a gruelling 105-hour football game held at the Capital’s Ainslie Park in his honour after participants raised more than £80,000 – smashing their original target of £37,000.

The non-stop match, which boasted an astonishing final score of 774-707, is expected to enter the Guinness World Records as the longest 11-a-side football game ever played, with the previous record standing at just 72 hours.

The event saw 36 close friends and family take to the pitch to celebrate the life of the former Stewart’s Melville College pupil, with kick-off taking place on July 4 and the final whistle sounding on Wednesday, the ten-year anniversary of Craig’s death. The mammoth match was the equivalent of around 64 normal games played one after the other.

Craig’s brothers Darren, 29, and Dean, 28, and sister Lyndsay, 26, all took it in turns to play – with dad John, 54, from Blackhall, cheering them on from the sidelines.

Eoghan Molloy, a member of the Craig Gowans Memorial Fund organising committee, said the whole experience had been “an emotional rollercoaster from start to finish.”

He said: “There were a lot of mixed emotions as the final whistle blew – from relief and tiredness to joy, happiness and everything in between. It was amazing to hear that final whistle and to finish what we set out to achieve. I’d like to extend a huge thank you to all of the supporters and volunteers who came down to support us across the four days.

“Playing throughout the night was by far the most difficult part of the challenge, but when the sun came up and the crowd returned it completely lifted our spirits. Being able to finish the match is all down to these supporters.”

Roslyn Neely, chief executive of the Sick Kids Friends Foundation, said: “All of the participants of the Craig Gowans Memorial Fund have done a tremendous job in completing this outstanding challenge and we feel extremely privileged to be the beneficiary of their efforts.

“The team has smashed its fundraising target in great style and I’d like to congratulate all of them on this wonderful achievement.

“Not only have they etched Craig’s name into the history books, the money raised will help the Sick Kids Friends Foundation transform the experience of the children and young people who will visit Edinburgh’s new children’s hospital when it opens its doors in 2017.”