Umpire's Fortune saves his life

Mark Sayers and his wife Tracy, and their children Michael, 9, William, 3, and Mitch, 11. Picture: MATTHEW SMITHWICK

Mark Sayers and his wife Tracy, and their children Michael, 9, William, 3, and Mitch, 11. Picture: MATTHEW SMITHWICK

MARK Sayers’ voice starts to quiver when he thinks how close he was to never seeing his unborn baby.

The Wangaratta umpire suffered a heart-attack at half-time in Beechworth’s match against Wahgunyah last weekend with medics taking about 20 minutes to revive him.

Sayers, 43, would have died if there hadn’t been a doctor and nurse at the ground.

“I’m a lucky man,” the former North Wangaratta and Glenrowan footballer said yesterday.

“I get to see my newborn kid in a couple of weeks.

“When things like this happen I think you just realise you can’t take your life for granted.”

Sayers started feeling chest pains late in the second quarter of the match at Beechworth but decided to soldier on with only a few minutes left until the half-time break.

Then things turned serious.

“I was walking off when the Wahgunyah umpire escort asked me if I wanted to get the club’s nurse,” he said.

“I said ‘Yes please, I feel like absolute crap’.

“She took me into the Beechworth medical rooms and the last thing I remember was her being on the phone talking to the ambulance people.

“I have been told if the nurse and doctor weren’t at the game that would have been it for me.

“I can’t thank everyone enough.”

Beechworth key position player and army medic Cameron Fortune was one of the people who worked on Sayers.

Sayers had a stent placed in an artery in Melbourne’s The Alfred Hospital and was there six nights.

He returned to his Wangaratta home yesterday.

While the third-year AFL North-East Border umpire will be off work for six weeks and won’t officiate for the rest of the season, he plans to return as a central umpire next year.

“Everything should be fine,” he said.

“I’ll be on some medication but I have been told I will go back to a normal life.

“My son, Mitch, is a boundary umpire and I’ll go and watch him, plus I will probably help out with watching some of the other umpires and doing what I can.”

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