Rovers boss calls for FA to provide free life saving equipment to non-league clubs

EMERGENCY: The air ambulance takes off from the grass pitch at The New Croft on Friday (Picture: Mark Westley)
EMERGENCY: The air ambulance takes off from the grass pitch at The New Croft on Friday (Picture: Mark Westley)

Ben Cowling has urged the FA to provide all clubs in the area with defibrillators free of charge, following the postponed Haverhill derby.

The game was due to take place on Borough’s 3G pitch on Friday night but, after a man suffered a heart attack on the sidelines, it was called off.

EMERGENCY: The Air Ambulance takes off from the grass pitch at The New Croft on Friday

EMERGENCY: The Air Ambulance takes off from the grass pitch at The New Croft on Friday

The quick actions of a Borough substitute, Tommy Hardwick, and Rovers welfare officer, Lisa Shulver, saved his life by performing CPR, as well as using the club’s defibrillator.

The gentleman was then transferred to Norwich Hospital by air ambulance and is understood to be critical but stable.

And Rovers manager Cowling has called on the FA to step up their efforts to provide clubs with defibrillators, as a ‘small gesture in a sport with an awful lot of money’.

“An incident like that proves why they are invaluable to have,” he said.

“It’s for the whole community but a football club can quite often be at the heart of that community, and so are good spaces.

“There’s so much money floating about in football, particularly at the top, and I think more of that should filter down.

“There should be enough for the FA to bring them in — it would be a small gesture.

“They should be giving them out for free, we’re not talking about a sport that’s poor, it’s very cash rich.

“But the amount that comes back from the Premier League is far less than what was promised in 1992.”

But Haverhill Community Sports Association football development officer Peter Betts was pleased to have received funding for the machine about three years ago.

“The FA often get a lot of stick,” he said. “But they were the ones that helped us to get a defibrillator and, the first time it’s been used, it’s saved a life.

“So I can’t complain.”

The Football Association (FA) and The British Heart Foundation (BHF) teamed up in August to provide teams with a grant for two-thirds of the cost of a defibrillator.

This means clubs pay £318 (plus VAT).

Since August, five Suffolk clubs have had their applications approved — among 640 defibrillators placed in clubs across the UK since the scheme launched.

There are still 900 more available for clubs in the National League System, Women’s Pyramid of Football Clubs and Charter Standard Clubs.

Suffolk FA senior football development officer, Michael Cornall, said: “It is pleasing to hear that the scheme was able to significantly help the spectator at The New Croft prior to the Haverhill derby.

“As it can be seen, this scheme can save lives and it is critical that as many clubs as possible take up this fantastic opportunity.”