Battle of Bramall Lane heart attack ref: “I died for 100 seconds”

The referee who took charge of the infamous Battle of Bramall Lane has revealed how he ‘died’ for 100 seconds after suffering a heart attack before a Premier League match.

By Darren Burke
Wednesday, 03 April, 2019, 14:00

Eddie Wolstenholme suffered a cardiac arrest in the tunnel before Burnley’s Premier League clash with Newcastle United last November.

Mr Wolstenholme, 64 and now a referee assessor, has revealed that he was ‘dead’ for more than a minute and a half before being revived.

Referee Eddie Wolstenholme (far right) took charge of the Battle of Bramall Lane.

The incident led to the match being delayed for 30 minutes.

He told UCLan Live: 'The last person's hand I remember shaking was [Newcastle boss] Rafa Benitez.

'It just felt like tin foil went over my glasses and that's the only thing I really remember.

'I then collapsed and after that I don't remember anything, I woke up with paramedics slapping my face.'

He added: 'I ended up on a stretcher in the tunnel going to hospital because I'd had a heart attack and was dead for one minute and 40 seconds.' 

Wolstenholme officiated in the top flight between 2001 and 2003 and famously took charged of the 'Battle of Bramall Lane' in 2002 between West Brom and Sheffield United which saw the game abandoned after Blades were left with only six players.

Following the incident last November, Mr Wolstenholme had to have heart bypass surgery.

He added: 'I owe a lot to the Burnley and Newcastle doctors, paramedics, managers and match officials for the way they dealt with me on the day.

'I couldn't thank all the medical staff enough; they couldn't have been any better with me and while I was in hospital, every two or three days [Burnley boss] Sean Dyche sent me a text.

'The doctors from both clubs got in touch and the day before the operation, Rafa Benitez got in touch with me.' 

He was in charge of one of the most remarkable matches in Sheffield United’s history on Saturday, March 16, 2002 when Neil Warnock’s side ere left with just SIX players on the field, having had three men sent off and two more leaving the field injured, on a day of shame and violence.

And Mr Wolstenholme was forced to abandon the game with Gary Megson’s West Bromwich Albion leading 3-0.

It was the first time a match had ever been abandoned in England due to a lack of players.