Football is one of the world’s most physically demanding sports. Usually, a match will last about 90 minutes and can be up to 120 minutes if extra time. But in football history, there has been a match that lasted more than 3 hours.
Stockport County and Doncaster Rovers
It was a match between England’s two teams, Stockport County and Doncaster Rovers at Edgeley Park on March 30, 1946. The duration of the match was exactly 3 hours 23 minutes and was set as a world football history record in more than half a century.
This match belongs to the Division Three North Cup (a division of the English football tournament from 1921 to 1958).
After the match ended with a 2-2 draw, the two teams had to return but the result was still 2-2 after 90 minutes of official play. Stockport and Doncaster had to play an extra 30 minutes of extra time but neither side scored another goal.
Before thinking of a shootout, a number of measures have been used to address the outcome of the match. But it is not a coin toss that two teams have to play until a goal is scored.
The rule of “play until the winner is determined” was quite common in English football history during World War 2. This style is similar to the “golden goal” rule when the team that scores first will win. But the difference is no time limit.
Stockport seemed to have won after 17 minutes. But the truth was that Les Cocker only managed to get the ball into the back of the net and the referee didn’t recognize it as a goal.
The match is forced to continue. Both teams tried to score but failed. The race screen only ended when the sun was setting and it was too dark to play because the lighting system on the field was not popular yet.
But still, not over, Doncaster won the right to organize a replay on his field after the referee made a coin toss. And in this second replay, Doncaster made many mistakes that made them lose with a heavy score of 0-4.
Charity match in Wales
Such protracted matches were relatively common in football history during the 1940s in England. Another example is the War Cup match between Cardiff City and Bristol City, a match lasting 3 hours 20 minutes.
In many cases, spectators can leave the field to go home for dinner or go to work before returning to witness the outcome of the match.
However, these matches were eliminated because the players were too tired and the fans were bored. Shortly after the match between Stockport and Doncaster, the rule of “playing until the winner was determined” became a thing of the past.
By the 1970s, penalties were widely available. However, an unabated football match still has a special attraction for some people.
In 2019, a charity match in Wales lasted for 169 hours. However, this match was not heavy and players were allowed to rest, eat and then continue to play.
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