The next few days will see charity squad Heartbeat United aim to set the record for the longest continuous football match ever.
Organised by chairman of Worthing United FC Steve Taylor, the motivation behind the world record attempt is the loss of their three team members - Matt Chaplain, Matt Grimstone and Jacob Schilt.
Players Matt Grimstone and Jacob both lost their lives as a result of the Shoreham Airshow disaster last year, while Matt Chaplain, a former youth coach, tragically suffered a heart attack in 2013, leaving a family behind.
The match, taking place at Lancing College, started at 6am this morning and will be played continuously until Bank Holiday Monday.
Steve said: “It was a huge relief that all 36 players turned up on time this morning. They can’t leave the area of play. They are not professional players, most of them moan about 90 minutes of football, so it is a big deal for them.
“We know the three men would be the first to sign up for something like this.”
The match consists of two teams of 18 players from across the country who are playing on a rotational basis. All players, officials and witnesses are volunteering their time.
The current record stands at 105 hours and is held by the Craig Gowans Memorial Fund in Scotland, set in July last year, with the event raising more than £100,000.
Steve added: “We will be welcoming the public on Sunday and Monday to encourage and support the players. We will have bouncy castles, face painting, ‘beat the goalie’, and other attractions.
“On Bank Holiday Monday, there will be an open mic session and we will be selling raffle tickets throughout the weekend. We have been donated lots of amazing raffle and auction prizes by local businesses, and we are still receiving more.
“After about three hours, the score was 34-27, so it will probably be in the hundreds by the time we finish. I don’t think it will be a draw but you never know.”
All funds raised will be shared between the British Heart Foundation and a fund for a memorial dedicated to the three players.
Paul Manners from Britain’s Got Talent is attending the event to provide entertainment, and he will be joined by local singer Ella Collins-Godden, who will be performing and selling her charity single, a cover of Coldplay’s ‘Fix You’.
There will also be an open top promotional bus travelling around Shoreham and Worthing.
Anyone wishing to volunteer as a witness, or wanting to donate food and water for the players and officials is asked to contact Sara Collins on 07500 113498, or via the website www.mattchaplain.com/heartbeatfc.
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