Shorty lives to tell a remarkable tale

John Martiniello with his wife, Vicky, and children James, Will, Hayley and Richard at last year’s Hall of Fame function.

John Martiniello with his wife, Vicky, and children James, Will, Hayley and Richard at last year’s Hall of Fame function.

“YOU won’t keep ‘Shorty’ down for too long.”

That was the message coming out of Benalla yesterday after Ovens and Murray Hall of Fame member John Martiniello survived a heart attack while umpiring a Goulburn Valley league reserve grade match against Rochester on Saturday.

Martiniello was clinically dead before being revived by a Rochester trainer, Benalla defender and paramedic Brook Martyn and three nurses at the ground.

“I thought we had lost ‘Shorty’,” Benalla president Bruce Biggs said yesterday.

“It was scary stuff.

“If there wasn’t a defibrillator and medical help at the ground ‘Shorty’ wouldn’t be with us.

“He’s up and about though and coming good and could be home in four or five days.

“He’s feeling much better.”

The six-time Benalla best and fairest winner’s heart attack came only three weeks after AFL North East Border umpire Mark Sayers went through the same ordeal during a match at Beechworth.

He also survived the heart attack.

Martiniello’s sons Will and James were set to play in the senior match when the incident occurred and rushed to Melbourne’s The Alfred Hospital to be with their father and rest of the family.

Biggs said Rochester trainer Athol Hann had performed a miracle in reviving Benalla’s favourite son.

“Athol should be given a Knighthood,” Biggs said.

“He got him going again.

“We can’t thank the people who helped enough.”

Hann said having a defibrillator at the ground saved Martiniello’s life.

“I’m just so happy for him and his family, that’s for sure, because it could have been so much worse,” Hann said.

Martiniello won the O and M’s under-18 best and fairest in 1976 and went on to play a club record 316 appearances for the Demons.

The tough rover was runner-up to North Albury’s Rudy Yonson in the 1984 Morris Medal by one vote and twice finished in the top three.

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