Ryan Hindley shuffles in his chair, stares intently at his watch and takes a deep breath as he remembers the day a fellow footballer died at his feet.
“I will never, ever forget that day,” Ryan, now manager of Hallam FC, says of July 5, 2011, when 26-year-old Joe Kellogg collapsed at a training session with Borrowash Victoria FC and never regained consciousness.
An inquest into Joe’s death found that a cardiac problem was responsible, although experts didn’t know how. But the impact on Ryan was profound.
“It scared me massively,” he admits. “I didn’t want to play football ever again. It broke me.
“I always felt as if I was going to have a heart attack at football. I couldn’t play for months after, and then I would only play if there was a defibrillator present. I was so paranoid.”
Ryan’s memory of that tragic day came rushing back last week when Daniel Wilkinson, a 24-year-old defender at Barnsley club Shaw Lane AFC, collapsed during a cup game at Brighouse Town and later died in hospital.
“I was devastated to hear about Dan,” Ryan added.
“It’s just so sad. No-one should go and do something we all love and enjoy, and not come home.
“When Joe collapsed, I was at the same venue with Ilkeston Town.
“It was a very warm Tuesday night, we were on a golf course doing hill sprints, and Borrowash were doing a long-distance run. I was at the back of the queue waiting to go again, and I remember watching the Borrowash lads when one of them just dropped, next to the bunker.
“I remember running over with Gary Ricketts and shouting our physio at the time, and we then had to give room as a few people performed CPR on Joe.
“We called an ambulance, which arrived within ten minutes and they worked on him for 20 or 30 minutes.
“But then our physio walked back, crying, and we knew we had lost one of our own.
“I tried to block it out since, but the news about Dan brought it all back. Joe died at my feet, and I will never, ever forget that day. It still haunts me now. It’s just unbelievably sad.”
Ryan now refuses to work at a club which doesn’t have a defibrillator, which cost around £1,000 a time but could prove crucial in saving a life.
And he has backed a petition from Kellogg’s sister, Lia, calling on the Football Association to pass a law ensuring that every club in the United Kingdom has access to a defibrillator.
“Hearing the tragic news about Dan brought back all the feelings and memories that I’ve had for years, but much stronger,” Lia said.
“It’ll never go away and he’ll always be with me, but in a happy way – not in a sad way, like how I felt after hearing the news. I don’t want other families to have to go through what my family has gone through.
“To get the petition to Parliament would mean the world to me and my family, and hopefully it will also raise more awareness of CRY – Cardiac Risk in the Young UK – a charity close to us who have helped a lot along the horrible journey we have faced.”
CRY statistics suggest, every week in the UK, 12 young people under the age of 35, who previously appeared fit and healthy, die from undiagnosed cardiac conditions.
If a defibrillator is used in the first three minutes of cardiac arrest, there is a 74 per cent chance of survival.
“It was a day of my life I’ll never forget, when Joe died, but for all the wrong reasons,” says Lia.
“Still to this day, I wonder... ‘if there was a defibrillator there, would it have saved my brother?’”
Lia’s petition has so far been signed almost 4,500 times – with Dan’s sister, Helen Wilkinson, amongst those adding their name.
“My brother died on Monday after suffering a cardiac arrest,” Helen wrote. “If it wasn’t for one of these defibrillators, people would have struggled to try to save his life. If anyone was to collapse again they deserve to have one nearby, to be able to help resuscitate them.
“Everyone should have this right.”
In 2014, a Star-backed ‘Safety on the Sidelines’ campaign raised almost £15,000, and delivered 35 defibrillators to local clubs and grounds, in memory of Dronfield referee Roger Evans - who suffered cardiac arrest and died immediately after blowing the full-time whistle on a game between South Normanton and, in a sad, cruel twist of irony, Borrowash Victoria Reserves.
In the last two years, there have been 17 reported cases of footballers dying during games, many attributed to heart conditions. Former Sheffield Wednesday midfielder Phil O’Donnell passed away in 2007 after collapsing in a game for Motherwell against Dundee.
“I’d like people to think about this happening to their brother, sister, friend or teammate,” Lia added.
“It’s a real issue that could happen to anyone. And if this petition leads to just one life being saved, then it would make it all worthwhile.”
To sign the petition, click here: Every football club in the UK by law to have a defibrillator on site