THE family of an Alvechurch FC fan who ‘died’ after suffering a cardiac arrest at the ground have praised the club’s staff and fans for bringing him back to life.

Rick Edwards’ heart stopped beating three times after he collapsed at Lye Meadow Ground, just minutes before the club’s match with Gresley on Saturday, December 23.

Yet thanks to the heroic actions of club physio Kevin March and fans Jude Yates and Martin Bassett, three times a defibrillator ensured that his heart began beating again.

The trio applied the device to keep him alive while an air ambulance arrived to carry to the grandfather-of-four to the Alexandra Hospital, where he is now back on the mend.

Daughter Sam, 42, from Winyates, Redditch, said: “We cannot thank them enough.

“If it had not been for them he would not be alive now.

“All of the doctors said he should not be alive so he is doing remarkably well.

“He is almost back to himself. He is on dialysis and improving. He has not got a good memory of anything after the game so we hope that will pass over time.”

The avid Alvechurch fan, from Woodrow, received a hospital visit from club captain Jamie Willets after their Boxing Day clash with Bedworth.

Sam added: “He brought him a programme and a ball which all the players signed.

“He was really happy about that and pleased to see him – probably more so than he was us!

“The club have been really fantastic. If I was not an Alvechurch fan before I will be now.

“Alvechurch is his passion. As soon as he is well again he will be back at the games.

“The first thing he said in the hospital actually was ‘did we win?’.

“We said no it was called off!”

Sam believes the incident highlights the importance of life-saving defibrillators in sport, and feels all non-league clubs should have them at grounds.

She said: “It shows the importance of defibrillators at football grounds.

“A lot of the lower league teams do not have them but that is something that needs to change. If that defibrillator was not there, my dad would not be alive today.”

Church chairman Richard Thorndike and secretary Stephen Denny also plan to pay Rick a visit in hospital while he recovers, and the club will hold a collection for him at their New Year’s tie with Romulus.

Mr Denny said: “He is doing remarkably well considering.

“He stopped breathing three times and we had to bring him back. He was a goner.

“It was a bit scary seeing him on the floor like that.

“The defibrillator saved him and the quick reaction to help out did too.

“We only got the defibrillator a couple of months ago as a precaution but we did not know we would be using it so quickly.

“We will be inviting him down when he’s back on his feet in the new year.”