Manchester’s Unsung Heroes: World record attempt mastermind aims to raise £25,000 for children’s hospice

By Phil Jones

Guinness World Record attempts can often border on the ridiculous, appearing to have no real rhyme nor reason behind them other than to set a record.

World’s most tattooed person, most stairs climbed on a bicycle, most number of people wearing high visibility vests or most people on trampolines – all good fun but not what most would call worthy records.

But every now and again there will be a record attempt with real significance behind it.

On the surface an attempt to play the longest ever continuous game of football may fall into the category above – a challenge yes, but worthy?

Well this particular 72-hour football marathon is all in aid of Francis House Children’s Hospice, a place close to organiser Nick Rose’s heart.

The Didsbury-based charity cares for children with life-threatening conditions, providing much-needed support and short-term rest for their families.

Nick has been organising the charity football match for almost a year with his aim of raising £25,000 for the hospice nearly in sight.

“The main reason for doing it is the fundraising, the record is just a nice thing to have,” said Nick.

“But it’d be great for the area as there are 36 lads involved and they’re all from around here.”

Born and bred in Stockport, 26-year-old Nick has experienced the work done by Francis House through his severely disabled sister and her friends.

Though his sister’s severe learning difficulties are not life-threatening, many of her friends have been treated at the hospice but some are sadly no longer with us.

“She is very much my inspiration for making as big a success of this event as I can,” added Nick.

“We’ve known of her difficulties since she was very young, she has been through the special school system meeting and working with some amazing and special people along the way.

“There are some not-so-good stories from Francis House and some not-so-happy endings, but that’s been a part of me growing up.

“For these children and their carers every day is a challenge, I just want to raise awareness for the work that is being done by these amazing people.”

As a big football fan the idea for a marathon match came easily to Nick and after discussions with friends the project began to take shape.









 AINT NO MOUNTAIN HIGH ENOUGH: Nick and some friends who will take part

But this isn’t the type of thing that can be organised quickly; Nick has been hard at work planning the event for nearly 12 months and admits it hasn’t been easy.

“It’s like a full-time job in itself, with that and my actual job I’m pretty busy,” he said.

“We didn’t want to cobble something together, I wanted it to be on a big scale and get the community and organisations involved.”

As one of Nick’s biggest customers in his job as a sales manager, he has recruited the Trafford Community Leisure Trust for the three-day game.

The trust manages Stretford Sports Village at the high school, which will host the event from May 2-5, but have also contributed use of their other facilities.

“They got on board from day one and have been an absolutely amazing organisation,” added Nick.

“They’ve given us training facilities free of charge, put on a load of gym classes, circuits and spinning, and very kindly put their premises forward to host the match.”

When organising an event of this size, unforeseen problems will inevitably crop up but you hope none on a scale which could jeopardise the whole project.

However Nick encountered a problem with planning regulations on the floodlights at the pitch which could have scuppered the world record attempt.

Unable to use the lights between 10pm and 8am, this posed a problem to the 72-hour continuous game, but Nick successfully appealed for a temporary exemption and the game is now free to go ahead.

“It was quite hard work at the time and was a bit ‘will it, won’t it’, but we got the desired outcome,” he said.

“Trafford planning department understood what we were doing and seemed right from the first minute that they wanted to get it approved for us.”

Nick’s employer, Midshire Business Systems, have joined several other sponsors in getting on board.

And he thanked his managing director, without whom he said the event may not have been able to go ahead.

“I’ve got a wonderful relationship with him, he’s supported me both financially and with resources – IT, marketing, anything I’ve asked for,” added Nick.

The current record for the world’s longest football match is held by a group in the Netherlands who played for 62 continuous hours.

Due to the time taken in organising the match and fear of people planning a 63 or 64-hour bid in the meantime, Nick chose to go ten hours better.

Having set the initial fundraising target Nick has already collected £17,000 from mostly commercial sponsors and is very confident of achieving his goal.

Francis House fundraising officer Kate Puc has been working with Nick and praised his tireless organising in spite sleepless nights throughout the process.

“Nick is a really enthusiastic young man that has rallied round and jolly good on him, full marks for him and the rest of his team,” she said.

“He’s a workaholic and now he seems to be becoming a fund raising dynamo – if we receive £25,000 it would be absolutely brilliant.

“It’s great that people who have been affected by having a relative in the hospice, or known others that have, want to do something in this way.”

In addition to the record attempt, Nick has organised a gala dinner to be held at the National Museum of Football on June 14.

The dinner will include a charity raffle and auction with prizes ranging from gift vouchers, to signed Manchester United shirts, to holidays.

For more information on the game, visit Nick’s website here.

Or to donate to Nick’s cause, visit his Just Giving page here.

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