A GROUP of sports enthusiasts aiming to set a new world record for the longest game of football have been getting fitness tips from a Premiership club.
Paul Newton, of Whitley Bay, has organised a 38-hour game of five-a-side football in an attempt to get into the Guinness Book of Records.
Along with his footballing friends, he is aiming to raise money for research into Wegener’s granulomatosis, the blood vessel disorder that killed Paul’s father Bill last year.
So far, the SoccerAmPmAm group, as they call themselves, has raised more than £3,000, thanks to sponsorship from friends and colleagues and support from Pulman, the Volkswagen and Seat dealership based in Durham and Sunderland.
Ahead of beginning their mammoth match tomorrow, the team were invited to Newcastle United’s Benton training ground for some last-minute advice from the club’s assistant manager, John Carver, and goalkeeper Steve Harper.
Paul said: “The lads have been training for six months and are now raring to go.
“They can’t wait for the kick-off, mainly because it means that we will never have to do another circuit session ever again.
“We are aware of what a huge task we have ahead of us but feel that we have prepared and planned as well as we possibly could have and, in doing so, have given ourselves the best possible chance of breaking the current record.
“We have been moved by the amount of support that we have received and the generosity of our sponsors.
“During the training, we guess that we have lost around 16 stone of body mass and run around 500 miles between us.
“We will not be completing a lap of honour if we break the record.”
Among the players in the two squads of eight taking part are Newcastle United finance director John Irving and BBC Newcastle Total Sport presenter Simon Pryde.
Simon said: “There have been times over the last six months when I wish I’d never met Paul, but the team has bonded well – everyone else wishes they’d never met Paul too.
“A group of lads in Blackpool attempted to break the world record a couple of weeks ago. They failed, and three ended up in hospital. That illustrates how hard this will be.
“We’re determined to succeed, and have had fantastic support not only from our sponsors, but also from Newcastle United, Sunderland AFC, Premier League referee Mark Clattenburg and legendary north east athlete Steve Cram, to name but a few.”
The world record attempt will begin at the Lucozade Powerleague North Shields Soccerdome at 8am, with supporters encouraged to attend.
A family fun day has been organised for Saturday afternoon with the The Kush band providing entertainment.