Hero’s CPR saves fan’s life at Watford Premier League match
A Jewish fan who saved a man’s life during last week’s Premier League clash between Watford and Chelsea has urged the community to learn CPR and first aid skills.
Darren Rolfe spoke to Jewish News after giving life-saving treatment to a fan who suffered a cardiac arrest.
The Bushey United Synagogue member was entertaining guests at Watford FC when he saw what looked like a scuffle 10 rows below him. “The match kicked off with a good atmosphere and Watford were playing well. As a Watford fan for 36 years, being in the premiership is what it’s all about,” he chuckles.
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“Suddenly, everyone was running for a steward. At first I thought someone had got hurt in a fight between opposing fans.” Not unusual at football, he notes wryly.
Yet instinctively he became convinced that something more serious was happening. Rolfe quickly headed down towards the scene below.
“I saw a guy lying on the floor, not being attended to by anyone. I started to ask his friend about what had happened and realised he was having a cardiac arrest.
“I cleared his airways, tried to make him respond and began compressions to his chest. He had a very faint pulse.”
Despite the chaos around him, Rolfe kept his focus for another few minutes until paramedics arrived with vital equipment.
“When situations like that happen, I block out what’s happening around me. I’ve gained that from my training as a first aider.”
Rolfe trained as a first aid responder in his job as CEO of Steps Together, a private treatment provider for drug and alcohol rehabilitation. However, this was the first time he had put that training into practice.
The 45-year-old adds: “The reason I’m doing this interview is to get the message across around people having CPR [cardiopulmonary resuscitation] and first aid training.
“I’ve worked with many synagogues right across the community supporting people with addiction. We need as many community members as possible to be trained in resuscitation and other critical life-saving skills.”
Watford FC have named the supporter who had collapsed as Larry Brooks, and he is currently in a stable condition in hospital,
Rolfe has been in close contact with Brooks and his close family via a WhatsApp group. “He’s looking forward to taking me for coffee when he’s back on his feet,” Rolfe said.
The father of three shrugs off any suggestion that he is a hero. “I’m a humble man,” he said.
“If what I did saved someone’s life, then that’s wonderful, but really what matters now is making sure others gain the same skills to save lives.”
Watford celebrates Chanukah:
Meanwhile, Watford hosted the Premier League’s first Chanukah celebration.
Nearly 100 attendees enjoyed a festive mix of music, candle lighting – and, of course, doughnuts.
Happy Chanukah from Watford FC
The sold-out event, hosted at Vicarage Road, was organised by the Premier League’s first Jewish supporters club.
The Jewish Hornets supporters’ group, formed earlier this year following a spike in antisemitic incidents across football stadiums, was established to provide a forum for Jewish supporters and allow dialogue with non-Jewish
fans on issues such as antisemitism.
Welcoming supporters, Sam Gillings, the equality, diversity and inclusion manager at Watford Football Club, said: “We are really delighted to host this celebration and showcase our inclusive culture. It’d be excellent to see other clubs hosting similar events and we look forward to supporting the Jewish Hornets moving forwards.”
Well-wishers also included former Chelsea FC manager, Avram Grant, and former Watford and Israeli football star, Ronny Rosenthal.
Tom Wyse, founding member of the WFC Jewish Supporters’ Group, said: “I’ve been a victim of antisemitism in football and the silence in response is often deafening.
Lord Mann with Rabbi Alex Goldberg
“Football is a reflection of society. By improving the state of our game, we improve society.”
Lord Mann, the government’s independent adviser on antisemitism, told Jewish News: “[The] celebration is a moment of real significance and optimism.
“This is precisely what football and sport should be all about – this is our national game at its finest.”
The antisemitism tsar concluded by calling on all football clubs to replicate the example of Watford FC, who deserved “full credit” as trailblazers.
Earlier this year, Watford FC also adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism.
The candle-lighting was led by Rabbi Mordechai Chalk of Watford Synagogue, accompanied by singer Tally Koren.