Five-a-side world record bid to aid statue appeal

Blackpool FC fans are attemting to set a world record by playing five-a-side soccer for 36 hours, to raise money for the Jimmy Armfield Statue Fund. Pictured front (centre) is organiser Paul Bowley.

Blackpool FC fans are attemting to set a world record by playing five-a-side soccer for 36 hours, to raise money for the Jimmy Armfield Statue Fund. Pictured front (centre) is organiser Paul Bowley.

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IN what is definitely one of those ‘rather you than me’ moments, 16 hardy Blackpool lads are aiming to break a world record, writes STEVE CANAVAN.

The brave – or perhaps barmy – bunch are gearing up to play a 36-hour five-a-side game, which starts at 3am on Easter Saturday and doesn’t end till 3pm on the Sunday.

Goodness knows what the score will be, or the size of the blisters on show, but they are determined to do it.

The lads have been training since before Christmas, concentrating on building up their fitness, so it’s little wonder given they are only allowed a five-minute break for every hour accumulated.

The match cannot stop and has to remain competitive. Players have to be running at pretty much all times, which, for 36 hours, sounds a tough task to say the least.

Organised by Seasiders fan and BSA member Paul Bowley, it is hoped the event will raise at least £7,500 for the Jimmy Armfield Statue Appeal – with the added bonus of getting in the Guinness Book of Records.

Bowley – brother of BSA chairman Glenn – said: “We had the idea at the back end of last year over an Indian meal, and it seemed a good idea at the time.

“We were talking of ways to raise money for the Armfield statue and everything we were doing, like raffles and quiz’s, were nothing to do with football.

“Someone said perhaps we could hold the world’s longest football match.

“The idea stuck and so we looked into it. The record was just over 33 hours for a continuous five-a-side game.

“We rang Guinness and lodged our attempt.

“Apparently people try and do it quite often.

“It normally goes up by about 10 minutes each time, because people break the record and then decide to stop.

“So we’ve decided to make it 36 hours and, if the lads are still standing at the end, get ourselves in the record books with something that might be quite hard to beat.”

Bowley clearly has plenty of commonsense as he has decided not to take part.

“What with organising it, I’ve got enough on my plate already...” he claimed.

However, 22 lads have volunteered and have been gathering since the new year at 7.30am on Saturdays and Sundays to go through their paces.

The squad will be whittled down to 18 in the next fortnight, then the fittest 16 will attempt to write themselves into the record books.

It is serious stuff with strict rules as to how the match must be played: two teams of eight, 10 players on the pitch at all time, players can’t swap sides and must be competitive throughout, there can only be three lads from each team off the pitch at any one time.

Various local individuals are booked in to ensure all the rules are adhered to.

Several business are sponsoring the lads’ efforts, with Blackpool FC backers Wonga the main sponsors.

With Jimmy Armfield himself set to nip to Play Football on Garstang Road, where the event will take place during the Easter weekend, and check on the lads progress, this is set to be a terrific effort by a group of local folk to break a world record.

If you wish to get behind them and sponsor the lads, go to: www.project36.org.