Steve Croft, from Royston, collapsed minutes before the League One game against Burton Albion on September 22, 2018, which was then postponed.
He was saved with the help of a defibrillator by medical staff from both clubs as well as paramedics before being flown to Sheffield’s Northern General Hospital by the Yorkshire Air Ambulance, which landed on the pitch.
Steve, now 63, spent two-and-a-half weeks in hospital - the first four days in an induced coma - and was fitted with an implantable cardioverter which will restart his heart with a shock if the same thing happens again.
Two years on, the grandfather-of-two has made a full recovery, and having retired from his job with Barnsley Council’s highway network management team, works two days a week for the Yorkshire Ambulance Service at Pinderfields Hospital, Wakefield.
Meanwhile Steve, wife Linda, son Matthew and daughter Nichola are all dedicated fundraisers for Yorkshire Air Ambulance.
Fresh from enjoying a golfing break in Scotland, he said: “I’m feeling fine, and I’m so grateful to everyone who was involved in saving me. It’s made me realise what a fantastic job they all do.
“I’ve had great support from both Barnsley and Burton Albion, and also from fans who were at the game and still recognise me and stop me in the street and ask how I’m doing. It’s all very humbling.”
Steve remains a volunteer at the football club, co-ordinating the flag bearers, local children who welcome the players onto the pitch, although that is currently being done virtually due to Covid-19 restrictions.
On the day of the Burton game, he was lining them up by the tunnel ready for kick-off when without any prior warning, he collapsed, hitting his head on the edge of the pitch rather than the track, so avoiding a potential injury.
Burton players warming up yards away alerted their medical staff, who were followed by Barnsley physios Craig Sedgwick and Vikki Stephens and paramedics, who had attended in extra numbers to demonstrate resuscitation techniques as part of the ‘Kickstart a Heart’ scheme.
“I’ve no memory of that part, although I’ve obviously been told about it,” explained Steve. “My first recollection is the hazy feeling of coming out of the induced coma, when everything felt a bit surreal.
“The recovery was a slow process, a case of getting used to what I could do and regaining confidence, and to be fair, I was surprised about how much I could do so soon.
“The doctors told me at the time that I could make a full recovery, and they also said that having a decent foundation of fitness, having taken exercise, not smoked and tried to eat and drink sensibly, had helped me survive what happened.
“If there’s one message from what I have learned from all this, it’s that it’s never too late to take some positive steps to improving your health and fitness.
“A number of small steps can make a big difference in giving yourself a fighting chance of coming through an episode such as this one.”