On Friday 1st July, Chelmsford Hockey Club started its Guinness World Record (GWR) breaking attempt for the world’s longest hockey match. The purpose of the event was to raise money for Chelmsford Hockey Club’s pitch, which needs to be replaced next year, as well as Farleigh Hospice and to help fund hockey coaching in schools. Overall, more than £13k was raised for both organisations.
With a minimum of 8 players on the pitch at one time, altogether 32 players played hockey for 56 hours and 17 minutes, finishing at 2am on Monday morning. They ran several marathons each over the weekend and played more than a season’s worth of matches. The players represented 10 of Chelmsford’s 15 teams and so there was a mixed standard of abilities and fitness within the group, with one participant having never played hockey before! The players had to stay by the pitch for the length of the match, camping at the ground and catching sleep when they could in their short breaks as they rotated on and off the pitch.
We caught up with Natalie Davis, a BSc(Hons) Sports Therapy graduate from the University of Hertfordshire who organised the Sports Therapy support for this fantastic event. Natalie wrote to the Society before the event so we were keen to find out about how it all went.
How did you find out that the Chelmsford Hockey Club were attempting to break the record?
I started playing hockey for Chelmsford hockey club when I was 6 years old and left when I was 18 to go to the University of Hertfordshire to study Sports Therapy. I have always kept in touch with the players and kept up to date with the club even though I have played and currently play hockey elsewhere.
One of the organisers posted a plea for help over Facebook for anyone who could do first aid and I thought I would offer my services as a Sports Therapist and try and get a few more Sports Therapists involved.
How many Sports Therapists did you manage to mobilise throughout the event and where were they from?
In total there were 6 sports therapists and 2 physiotherapists who were included within my team. I had a volunteer from the University of Gloustershire who is studying for a Masters in Sports Therapy, and students and graduates from the University of Hertfordshire.
Tell us about your role at the event.
Over the weekend, we attended to lots of aching limbs and sporting injuries. As this was such a long event, we, as a sports therapy team, provided lots of massage, taping and general first aid (heat stroke being one of these). The players were mentally and physically fatigued so we also had to provide lots of encouragement and support to help keep them positive.
What were the main injuries and problems that you had to deal with over the weekend?
Generally the players were suffering from muscle soreness. Due to the nature of the sport, the players were mainly suffering from back pain, but there were also a few knee injuries, ankle sprains and a few existing injuries that played up.
Clearly you’ve done a tremendous job organising your team and keeping the players as fit as possible during this event. Had you ever provided Sports Therapy on a lengthy event like this before?
When studying at the University of Hertfordshire, I was involved and treated players in a 36 hour GWR game at Crawley Hockey Club which helped give me an idea of what to expect.
Was there a final score? If so, what was it?
The players formed two teams, greens and blues. Blues won with 305 goals. The greens made a valiant effort and scored a total of 255 goals.
Overall, how do you feel about the experience?
I am proud to have organised the Sports Therapy support for such a special event and it really was a fantastic achievement in every way. Special thanks go to Letitia Chapple (BSc MSc Sports Therapy) - the support and help I received from her was second to none! This goes hand in hand with the rest of the volunteers who travelled from all over to help at this event - everyone worked very hard keeping the players fit for the challenge!
I also want to thank the University of Essex and University of Hertfordshire; the support I had from my lecturers and Sports Therapy departments were very much appreciated. Finally, the players were fantastic and showed such dedication for a big cause. Well done and congratulations on a massive achievement!
Talking about the event, Samantha, one of the event organisers who also played in the longest Hockey game recorded so far, told us: “'I genuinely believe the only reason all 32 players were fit at the end was due to the great care received from Natalie and her team. To have free massages on tap, sometimes two [sports therapists] working on a player at a time, was an amazing service which we were lucky to receive. And some top advice and work to help some failing knees and ankles”
One of the players also talked to us about Natalie and wanted to make sure she knew how much the teams appreciated the Sports Therapists’ support: “Thank you very much for the attention you have given to everyone and including my aching limbs. You and your team were outstanding and much appreciated, so wanted to say a personal thank you as I have had a sports massage before and your team were the most attentive and caring.”
In addition to the money raised for the two very worthy causes, the club wanted to increase awareness amongst the community of the club and the sport in general. With great coverage in the press, local radio and on social media, this was definitely achieved.
Well done to Natalie and everyone involved in the smooth running of this fantastic event!