Assistant football referee who suffered massive heart attack during a game in Rainworth blows the whistle for kick off at emotional replay

A football official who suffered a massive heart attack during a game in Rainworth returned to the replayed match and blew the whistle at kick off.

Assistant referee Andrew Jarvis returned to watch Rainworth MW host Hallam FC – just more than five weeks since he collapsed shortly after the second half kicked off on August 14.

Mr Jarvis, who sported a specially made half Rainworth-half Hallam shirt for the occasion, returned to a hero’s welcome with well wishes from fans, players and staff, many of whom had witnessed his near-death experience.

As well as being reunited with Shannon Brooks, Hallam’s physio, who he credits with saving his life, he was also able to look at the seven-year-old defibrillator she used on him.

Assistant football referee Andrew Jarvis says he owes his life to Hallam FC’s physio, Shannon Brooks, who also plays for SJR Worksop Women FC, who was one of the first to his aid when he had a heart attack during a match

The 60-year-old said: “It was a very strange and emotional moment to be looking at this piece of kit that saved my life and to see Shannon again was special.

“To be able to start the game off with the whistle was quite a moment and I’m thankful I got to do that, as at least I felt like I was taking part.

“There was a big part of me that wanted to be on the pitch doing my job when I was watching and I always think I’ll have that feeling of wanting to be part of the action no matter what.

“I didn't know how I would feel on the day, but it was good to see and talk to a lot of people who witnessed what happened, as I can't remember anything.

Referee Andrew Jarvis was delighted to be asked to blow his whistle to start the match after his heart attack the first time the fixture was played

“It was good to piece it all together and explain a lot of things I didn’t know understand, like why my back and head had been hurting, as people told me I’d hit them during the fall. People were so kind and wished me well. There were a lot of heartfelt comments from everyone.

“The half-and-half shirt was a good touch and something I can keep to always remember. I had the other halves made into a shirt for Shannon to keep too.”

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Spooky moment

Referee Andrew Jarvis was delighted to be asked to blow his whistle to start the match after his heart attack the first time the fixture was played

Mr Jarvis, a dad-of-two and grandfather-of-three, watched the majority of the Northern Counties East League Division One game, which Hallam won 4-0, from the stands at Rainworth’s Kirklington Road ground with his wife Jane.

He said: “Football is not really Jane’s thing, but she was glad to be there and enjoyed it.

“It was nice for her to speak to the hospitality ladies as they were opposite me when I collapsed. She enjoyed the day and I think it all hit her when we got home that night.

“I did have one spooky moment when I drove into the car park. It was full, apart from one space – the exact same space I’d parked in for the original game. That was dead weird.”

Assistant football referee Andrew Jarvis says he owes his life to Hallam FC’s physio, Shannon Brooks, who also plays for SJR Worksop Women FC, who was one of the first to his aid when he had a heart attack during a match

Mr Jarvis is now getting back to full fitness and supporting Shannon’s JustGiving campaign to raise money to buy defibrillators for non-league clubs.

He said: “I want to say a big thank you to the hospitality team at Rainworth for looking after me and for all the brilliant comments from both sides, so many people wanted to talk to me and it was really special.”

There is also an ongoing petition aimed at bringing defibrillators to all non-league grounds at bit.ly/3m7msra

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