Assistant referee who suffered heart attack during game near Mansfield backs calls for more defibrillators as he prepares to return to replayed match
A football official who suffered a massive heart attack during a game in Rainworth is set to make an emotional return to the pitch to watch the replayed match this weekend.
Assistant referee Andrew Jarvis will watch the rematch between Rainworth MW and Hallam FC tomorrow – just more than five weeks since the terrifying incident in which he collapsed shortly after the second half kicked off at Rainworth’s Kirklington Road ground on August 14.
Mr Jarvis, aged 62, said he owed his life to Shannon Brooks, Hallam’s physio, who was one of the first to his aid and used a defibrillator to treat him.
He said: “I said from day one I wanted to go back to this game. It will mean a lot to me and will be an emotional day.
“I truly believe that if this had happened anywhere else, I wouldn’t be here today.
“If it wasn’t for Shannon leading things, the other key people there that day and for the defibrillator things would have been very different.
"I’ve seen Shannon since and I just gave her a big hug and thanked her, but like I said to her there are no words that you can say to someone who saved your life, nothing really seems enough.
"If it wasn't for Shannon, Rainworth manager Richard Smith, who also played a key part and gave me mouth to mouth, the paramedics, the air ambulance crew and the staff at the Royal Derby Hospital, I wouldn't be here.”
The dad-of-two and grandfather-of-three is now backing Shannon’s campaign to raise money to buy defibrillators for non league clubs who don’t have access to them.
Mr Jarvis, who has been a referee since 2004, said: “It is so important all clubs have access to a defibrillator.
“My consultant said the chances of something like this happening at a football match when you’ve got 22 players, some of them not in the best health, is higher than you would think.
"Having a defibrillator on hand and someone who knows how to use it and knows CPR can be the difference between life and death.
“It’s not just football clubs, we need them in town centres, schools and most importantly need to raise awareness about where they are located.
“This can happen to anyone and having a defibrillator there can save a life.”
Shannon set up a JustGiving page and has already smashed the £2,000 target, but is hoping to raise as much as possible to buy as many defibrillators.
Mr Jarvis, a retired teacher, said he had been struggling with ill health in the months before the fateful match.
He said: “I’d lost two stone in weight and had been going back and forth to the doctors with chest pains but they couldn’t find anything.
“On the day of the match in the first half, I felt some slight tightness in my chest, but I’d had this pain loads of times before and just dismissed it as muscular pain and it went off.
“After half-time I walked out and was checking the nets and just had an overwhelming feeling I was going to pass out.
“This was about 4pm on Saturday, the next thing I remember is waking up on Sunday morning in the hospital. The first thing that went through my mind was sheer relief.
“I knew something had been wrong with me for all this time and just thought ‘thank God I got that over with and survived it’ and now they can figure out what’s wrong with me.”
Medics confirmed Mr Jarvis had suffered a heart attack. He had a stent fitted, before being discharged just three days after the incident.
He is now on the road to recovery and is hopeful one day he will return to refereeing duties.
He said: “I’m making a good recovery, I still get a bit tired and sometimes have to go to bed in the afternoon, but so far everything seems to be going well.
“If I’m medically able to do, so I hope to continue refereeing in the future.”
Tomorrow’s match kicks off at 2pm.