The Longest Football Games Ever

Tuesday17 November 2020 | 16:30
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Football has become more professional and players have become faster and stronger; however, playing for hours in long games can be extremely demanding.

Everybody knows the general rule of duration when it comes to football. A game of football is 90 minutes long, divided into two halves of 45 minutes. Stoppage time or injury time refers to the period added to the primary 90 minutes due to the delays that happened in the game through substitutions, general time-wasting, etc.

If the teams' score is tied at their regular time in some competitions, the game may go to extra time consisting of two other 15-minutes halves to determine the winner. In case of tied scores at the end of spare time, the game continues with penalty shootouts.

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Nowadays, games usually are 90 to 120 minutes. Many reasons, such as fatigue and muscle cramps, do not let elite-level players play their best after this amount in what may constitute the longest football games ever.

However, sometimes in tournaments, the match takes much longer than usual to set the scores right and display the advancing team, especially during the Second World War.

It used to be a problematic issue on many grounds because there was no particular way to settle tied scores. In the 1940s, many proposals were made to solve these difficulties and reach a verdict.

Read on to find out more about the longest football games ever:

There was a ‘Play to Finish’ rule that states games should carry on till one side scored commenced in the particular circumstance of wartime. Consequently, during this time, some games were very long.

Who is the winner?

The longest football match game's record ever belongs to the showdown between English clubs Stockport County and Doncaster Rovers in 1946, which takes three hours and 23 minutes!

In the following article, we are going through history to review the methods and strategies to settle tied scores, and then we will talk about this longest football game ever World Record. Next, we will take a look at the longest soccer games in the history of the Premier League. Afterward, we will discuss a charity match that will make your jaw drop!

Let's dive in.

The longest soccer matches of all time happened during the second world war. The states of games were somewhat irregular due to the circumstances.

Football was and forever will be more than a sport to people. It is their passion, and it could represent hope and endurance. For this reason, the football matches continued to take place, and although many able men were fighting for their country while being team members, the tournaments were held anyway.

Also, many rules changed during this time.

Previously, when the 90-minutes regular time came to an end and the scores tied in tournaments, they used to replay until a team scored higher and was introduced the winner. In 1940, during the League World Cup tournaments, 137 games were played in the space of nine weeks. The replays made the players really tired. Therefore, the commission decided to change the rules.

In the next year's matches, the commission decided to award the game in case of tied scores to a team with higher league scores. Many people suggested that this was not fair, and they voiced their unhappiness about it.

During the Lancashire Cup, they decided to experiment. The method was to continue the game until somebody scored. The experiment was a success the first time.

It was a game between Burnley and Everton, and Burnely could win over its component with only a few minutes of additional time. The World Cup adopted the Play to a Finish rule in 1942. After that, it was also taken in other competitions in various countries. But there was always the risk of the game turning to the longest game in football history.

Eventually, other strategies were added to this rule, and some variations were also proposed. For instance, during the matches of League South Cup in 1942-43, it was suggested that after 20 of minutes extra time, the winner is whichever team scores a goal or wins a corner.

But there was always the danger of the game not coming to an end. Everybody knew this was a serious problem. In addition to the Play to Win` rule, there was also the option of tossing a coin to assign the winner, preferred by the players who were filled with exhaustion.

There were many games with long extra times that made the referee discuss solutions with the players on the sideline as it happened in the match between Liverpool and Everton, which takes 130 minutes. Liverpool player’s suggested tossing a coin, but Everton insisted on carrying on.

Lancashire FA instructed the referee to carry on the game five more minutes. If it did not come to a score, the referee should abandon the game. Many were dissatisfied with the situation and believed it was highly unfair yielding to lawlessness.

One of the longest football games ever played took place in the following season's War Cup. For three hours and 20 minutes, Cardiff City and Bristol City ran in the field. The game ended because of a goalkeeping error that concludes the winner. The players trooped off the field wearily as they were overcome by the fatigue of what they thought was a never-ending marathon.

Western mail reporter mentioned this game as "an endurance test which will forever hold a place in the records." History tells us this reporter's speculation was not entirely true since this record was broken within 12 months.

The longest soccer game ever played

The real “endurance test” happened on 30th March 1946 when Stockport County hosted Doncaster Rovers in Division three North Cup Match replay. After 90 minutes and two tied halves with a 2-2 score, the teams went into extra time. However, 30 more minutes was not enough because both teams were unable to score.

They decided to continue the game under the ‘Play to Win` rule to reach a golden goal. In the 173rd minute, Les Cocker, the Stockport’s striker, put the ball into the back of the net. The crowd started cheering until they heard the referee’s whistle. Mr. Baker from Crewe had spotted a handball. That was why he disowned the goal and instructed the players to carry on the longest game in football history.

However, the players were very tired, and the spectators were furious at the referee wanting him to finish the game. As the sun went down, Mr. Baker decided that it was too dark to continue the game, and the teams flipped a coin to earn a right to host.

Four days later, Doncaster hosted Stockport for the second replay. Doncaster won the victory over its opponent with a 4-0 scoreline.

Interestingly, the spectators went home to have dinner or ran some errands and returned to the stadium to watch the rest of the match. And that was the story of the longest football game ever. Here, you can see a Cartoon about this incident that used to be the talk of the town.

After this game, the commission and the fans voiced their dissatisfaction about the ‘Play to Win` Strategy, and a few months later, the rule was scrapped. Therefore, there are no other games with the same conditions as the longest football game ever.

In the 1970s, a method was suggested and assigned which still stays to this day. After the regular two haves and intervals, teams go into injury time. If still the score tied, they will have an extra 30 minutes during, which whoever scores will win the game. In case of being unable to meet the scores by that time, the players try penalty shootouts. Although this rule is more convenient, now and then, there are still very long games.

The Premier League

The Premier League is the top level of the English football league system with world-class players spread out in 20 teams. The games are crucial and usually they attract thousands of spectators worldwide. Here, we have a list of the five longest football games ever in the Premier League:

  • Arsenal versus West Ham United (102 minutes and 58 seconds): On 23rd January 2013, West Ham United were defeated 5-1 by Arsenal with 12 minutes’ stoppage time, turning this match into one of the longest soccer matches of all time in the Premier League.
  • Arsenal Versus Liverpool (102 minutes and 30 seconds): This match ended in a draw on 17th April 2011. Arsenal scored its equalizer in a penalty in the 102nd minutes of the game. The stoppage times was 12 minutes.
  • Everton versus Watford (102 minutes and 4 seconds): Besides being on the list of longest football games ever played, this game, happening on the 5th November 2017, is on the list of most incredible games. The scores were 3-2 in favor of Everton.
  • Stoke City versus Tottenham Hotspur (101 minutes): on 18th October 2008, Stoke City won over its opponent. After 11 minutes of injury time, the match ended.
  • Manchester City versus West Ham United (100 minutes): One of the longest soccer games in the history of Premier League happened on 23rd August 2008. With ten minutes’ stoppage time, Manchester City was able to score three goals to its opponent, keeping its net closed till the end of the match.

Playing for charity

So far, we only talked about the official longest football games ever. But that is not all. Technically, if we consider unofficial games, the longest soccer game in history happened in 2019 in Wales. This game lasted a full seven days and one hour, which means 169 hours! Crazy, right?

Kicking Off Against Cancer or simply KOAC is the name of a foundation that strives to help people suffering from cancer. Their goal is to either help them financially or emotionally.

Through a series of fundraising programs that they come up with, they gather enough money to aid in medical procedures. Emotionally, they set up events creating happy atmospheres for the patients allowing them to enjoy themselves, forget about their problems, and make memories with their loved ones.

They started their foundation in 2016 by breaking the World Record for the longest soccer game in history. In the beginning, they decided to throw a football match so they could help those suffering and their families. Many people volunteered to participate in this match, and numerous people showed up to contribute love and support.

This match took place indoors, and players were in this game for nonstop 6-a-side for 36 hours! They could raise £12000 for charity during the process. This money was enough to start the foundation and step on this beautiful journey.

However, they broke their own record in July 2019 with the truly longest football game ever after playing continuously for 169 hours. The game took place in The Air Dome at Cardiff City House of Sport. They started on Sunday 14th and finished on Sunday 21st for a full seven days and one hour.

The procedure was emotionally challenging and happened to be draining on the players. The criteria required was to play the match with 36 players (2 squads of 18). What’s more, the players had to play nonstop! Each hour earned a player a five minutes’ break, which worked out as one hour in every 12.

Many players broke down to tears from excessive exhaustion, and they took naps during intervals. An outstanding amount of money was the result of this fundraising program.

Besides providing financial aids, they used the money they saved through the longest football game ever played to send families out pony trekking, send people to concerts, arrange an evening out on Disney Ice, and full action weekends away to London and other cities, creating valuable moments and memories.

The sentimental aspect of this fundraising was huge to the public. Many, especially locals, got emotional observing the process and reading about it in the paper.

KOAC not only broke the World Record for the longest soccer match of all time but also depicted the value and hardship of endurance facing any difficulties in life. This occasion was a celebration of those who were going through terrible times in their life refusing to give up at all costs.

What did we learn in this article?

Football is a beloved sport with history. This game had changed numerous times during the past decades till it reached a stable state with acceptable rules worldwide. Football means a lot to people, and in some countries, it has mixed with their DNA.

Therefore, it was not a surprise to learn even in the middle of the Second World War, holding games carried on effectively. In addition, history witnessed the longest football game ever during this time. This game initiated a change in the rules, which resulted in the penalty shootouts in the 1970s.

Stoppage time of injury time is the reason behind the longest soccer games ever played in the Premier League. We also learned that besides the official matches, there were unofficial ones that broke the World Record.

Kicking off Against Cancer is a charity foundation that could break the records for the longest game in football history to help people who suffered from cancer. This event had a significant impact on the public, picturing the influence football can have on people.

There are many stories about football changing people’s lives. We certainly believe it did change ours!

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source: SportMob
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