When footballing legends Robbie Savage and Alan Shearer agreed to Sport Relief’s Battle of the Backsides challenge little did they know what they were letting themselves in for.
The challenge saw the pair frantically race to be the first to sit on half the seats at Wembley - a brutal 45,000 seats each – that’s a hardcore session of squatting and sliding.
The repetitive nature of the challenge meant that with 45,000 repeats of the same movement continuously, the pair’s quad and glut muscles took real punishment – with their ability to manage pain and stiff muscles the key to beating their opponent.
They had five days to complete this physically demanding feat – the first time a challenge like this has ever been attempted in the UK and it was all to raise funds for Sport Relief.
To support them in this brutal task, as well as to be in with the chance to win some amazing prizes, the public were invited to enter a competition at www.sportrelief.com/backsides before the deadline of March 22nd. Each competition entry costs £5, and incredible prizes up for grabs include tickets to see England play at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, a day at the Wimbledon Championship or tickets to One Direction on their UK tour.
After padding up their posteriors and enjoying some pre-match banter, Alan and Robbie kicked off their brutal challenge at 7.38am.
Speaking before the early-morning whistle blew to start the challenge, Robbie said: “I’m up early, the sun is shining and Wembley Stadium looks magnificent.
“I don’t think people realise the magnitude of the task until you’re here in an empty stadium, honestly it’s ridiculous! I think if we both get to the end and we’ve raised some money, we’ll be happy.”
Within the first hour alone the contest was already heating up, with the first stats of the day at 8am revealing Alan taking an early lead – sitting on 535 seats to Robbie’s 520. Although that total alone may sound epic, it’s only 1% complete of their hellish five days of squatting and sliding.
With the ex-professional footballers spending day one spurred on by the afternoon sunshine and keeping competitive spirits high with constant banter, Robbie had edged into an early lead – finishing the first day with a whopping 13149 seats complete, just 19 more than Alan’s total of 13130. It isn’t all plain sailing for the rivals, however, with the hours of squatting and sliding already taking their toll.
As the day’s proceedings began Alan came from behind to take an early morning start, with the first stats of the day revealing Shearer storming into a 79 seat lead at 1089 seats so far today, with Savage trailing slightly at 1010.
As the pair prepared to start their sitting session this morning Alan said: “I had to roll out of bed this morning, I couldn’t get out I was that sore. I really am aching all over. It’s a huge task, and I think when myself and Robbie agreed to do it a few months ago we thought it’d be hard but it’d be manageable. Yesterday was incredibly hard and today’s going to be even worse I think, because of the way we’re feeling this morning.”
There was a very special guest at Wembley as five-time Olympic gold medallist Sir Steve Redgrave showed up to show his support. Former rower Redgrave felt the biggest obstacle facing Shearer and Savage is the mental challenge of staying motivated.
“The trick is to switch off and not really think about what you are doing,” he said, “Football is a high intensity explosive sport whereas this is more my domain of low intensity endurance.”
The first stats of today reveal footballing legend Alan Shearer retaining his pole position with a whopping 21,244 seats complete so far this week. Fellow competitor Robbie Savage is trailing behind at 21,164 – just 80 seats between them as they start their third day of the five day challenge.
After two days of hardcore squatting and sliding, the ex-professional footballers are in absolute agony as they push their aching bodies to take on another day of their punishing task. With Alan crossing the half-way mark at 9.35am, Shearer remains in the lead – with the first stats of the day revealing a massive 526 seats complete so far today, with Robbie picking up the rear at 445 covered.
Speaking before the challenge this morning about his sore body, Alan said: “Where do we start? Thighs, back, ankle, hips, shoulders, arms, everything - because you’re using every part of your body to shift along the seats. I’m using muscles I’ve never used in my life! I can hardly walk this morning. It’s just put it into perspective – we’re not even halfway yet.”
After feeling pepped up by a visit from McBusted’s Harry Judd and Sir Steve Redgrave during day two, the boys are finding new ways to motivate themselves – with Alan fuelling himself with jelly babies and Robbie craving a muscle-soothing ice bath. There’s no rest for the lads yet though, as although they’ve got two tiers down, there’s another three torturous tiers to go before the challenge is complete.
At the close of day three, although clocking up an impressive 8,722 seats in his third 24-hour stint, Robbie’s determined effort still fell short of Shearer’s speedy squatting - pushing the ex-England captain even further into pole position with a massive 9,020 seats covered on the day.
As the sun shone over Wembley the ex-professional Footballers upped their competitive spirit with a Guinness World Records attempt. With their buns of steel now feeling the burn on day four, and having squatted and slid over 30,000 seats each, the pair dug deep and powered through the pain to try and beat their opponent to become a Guinness World Record holder - with 60 seats in one minute the number to beat.
After managing to cover a whopping 86 seats in 60 seconds, Robbie Savage emerged the victor – setting a new Guinness World Records title, and admiring the outfits of the adjudicators. Alan didn’t leave the session empty handed, however, as he was awarded a Guinness World Records title of his own – ‘most goals scored in the Premier League’.
At the close of day four, Alan had sailed ahead in the sunshine, covering a huge 7,976 seats and bringing his total to a whopping 37,714 seats covered across the week so far. Robbie’s determined efforts gained him a still-impressive 7,370 seats covered in day four, with his total for the week standing at 36,811 – over 80% of the stadium complete for our two challengers. The men have burned some serious calories during the past four frantic days too – with Savage burning a massive 10,690kcals, and Shearer topping the total with 12,456kcals burned across the week.
As the pair started their final day at Wembley this morning, Alan said: “It sounded like a great idea when they first asked me a couple of months ago, and I didn’t think it would be this hard to be honest, it’s been far, far worse than I ever thought it would.
“On Monday evening, I thought Friday would never ever arrive but it’s here. I have to say we’re looking forward to getting it done, it’s been incredibly hard work, but it’ll all be worth it when we finish and hopefully raise a lot of money, and all for a great cause.”
With the children of both Robbie and Alan sending their support, friendly faces Adrian Chiles, Rob Lee and BBC Sport royalty Dan Walker dropping by to cheer them on, and the ever style-conscious Savage taking the opportunity to top up his tan in day four’s sweltering sunshine, the end is now finally in sight for the two former professionals as they squat and slide their way towards the Royal Box – and, for one man, to victory.
After days at the top of the leader board, Shearer took his final seat of the brutal challenge at the Royal Box at 5:22pm, just a nail-biting 13 minutes ahead of his competitor with Savage completing their epic task at 5:35pm.
Speaking after being crowned winner, Alan said: “I can’t swear, but I’m absolutely knackered. I’m going to change my number if the CEO of Sport Relief tries to contact me again!
“It was desperate at times. When I woke up on Tuesday morning I thought to myself - Al, you’re not going to do this. I felt dreadful, my muscles, my legs, my knees - I’ve had nine operations on my knees and they are absolutely hanging off. It was hard and we felt like packing it in many times, but you can’t pack it in –you’ve gotta keep on raising that money, and it’s well worth it when you finish.”
The pair have raised an incredible £220,000 so far, with money still coming in as the Battle of the Backsides competition remains open for entries until Saturday March 22. For more information, visit www.sportrelief.com/backsides.
If you’re watching Sport Relief on BBC1 tonight look out for Battle of the Backsides highlights around 11.20pm.