Monday, March 30, 2015

30 March 1946 - The Marathon Match

On 30 March 1946, Stockport County and Doncaster Rovers met in a Division Three North Cup replay at Stockport's Edgeley Park. The match lasted 3 hours and 23 minutes, setting a world record in the process.

The teams had earlier played to a 2-2 draw at Doncaster, requiring the replay. The hosts struck first with a 5th minute penalty kick from Ken Shaw, but Rovers fought back to take a 2-1 lead into the break. In the second half, Shaw was again the hero for Stockport, scoring the equalizer in the 72d minute. After 90 minutes, the teams were tied at 2-2 and neither side was able to score in 30 minutes of extra time.

Under the rules at the time, the match then went into a golden goal period, so that the first team to score would win the match. But neither team was able to find the back of the net. The match went on for so long that several spectators went home for tea, then returned to find the match still going. Stockport thought they had the winner when Les Crocker put the ball in the goal in the 173rd minute, but the referee called a foul and disallowed the goal. Reportedly, even a few Doncaster players were upset at the call, which meant they had to play on.

Eventually, the match was called off close to 7:00 pm because it was too dark to play (Edgeley Park would not get floodlights for another ten years). The players were so tired that many of them dropped to the pitch at the whistle and removed their shoes instantly. The match lasted 203 minutes, which remains a world record.

When the teams met again in a second replay the following week, they played from the beginning instead of picking up where the previous replay had left off. That time, Doncaster left no room for another marathon match, rolling to a 4-0 win in regulation.

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