The Spirit of the Dog – as observed by Jim Ingram

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I saw a man die on the weekend, but don’t worry, this story ends well.

 

One of the things I love about going to the football is that you never quite know who you’ll end up sitting next to. And on Grand Final day the lottery is even greater as people hustle for tickets and take whatever they can get. And so it was, that I found myself sitting next to a bloke called Rob at Saturday’s blockbuster between the Swans and the Dogs. As I took my seat on this particular day, I was pleased that the footy-seat gods had smiled on me and I was greeted by a mild mannered fella in his sixties and his sister in-law, Sue.

 

Rob and I sparked up a conversation consisting of the usual football banter and I immediately understood two things; Rob was a man who liked a chat, and a man who loved the Doggies. Before long he was proudly showing me his old Footscray VFL scarf, signed by Doug Hawkins and Ted Whitten no less. But as the game wore on he also told me of his late wife, who passed suddenly some years back and was a mad Swans supporter. He slapped his left shoulder and told me that he’s not one for tatts but he has her name tattooed there and if the Doggies ever won a flag, he’ll add another one under her name – his two great loves.

 

History will tell you that this particular game of football was one for the ages, and at half time it was a 2-point ball game. Now at this point I must confess that as a life-long Bomber, I was seriously starting to consider a switch to the Bulldogs and I was cheering them as if they were my own. But I wasn’t alone – the 100,000 strong crowd was deafening at times as the Bulldogs muscled closer to the impossible. It was outstanding to watch and by three quarter time the Dogs had mauled their way to an 8-point lead. It was at this point that Rob looked at me and pumping his chest with his fist he joked “they’d wanna have an ambo parked out the front if we get up”. I laughed, pointed at him and openly joked, “don’t you go dying on me mate”?

 

With 10 minutes to go in the game, Rob suffered a massive heart attack. He didn’t make a sound; he simply stiffened in his seat, and then sat lifeless. I was stunned and started calling to MCG staff for assistance. By sheer luck, an off-duty paramedic was nearby and pushed his way to the front. Within seconds he’d checked Rob for a pulse and had him on the ground between the seats administering CPR. I was shocked by the ferocity of the paramedic’s actions as he methodically pounded on Rob’s chest – it was nothing like we see in the movies. And as the minutes ticked by, and as the game continued, and as goals were kicked, and as the fans continued to roar, this stranger from the crowd didn’t leave his post and continued CPR until he was utterly exhausted. By now another off duty medic was with us and he took over the role as the first guy staggered to his feet then slumped on his haunches, entirely spent. In situations like this minutes take hours, and as my emotions were getting the better of me I was jolted back to reality as the final siren sounded.

 

The crowd went into a frenzy and ‘Sons of the West’ began to boom from the speakers surrounding the MCG. I was standing there dumbstruck as Rob still lay on the beer-soaked concrete receiving treatment when I became aware of a staggeringly beautiful observation. If I hadn’t watched it with my own eyes, I’d call it too perfect to be true, but I noticed the rhythm of the man administering CPR was in perfect timing to the beat of the Bulldog’s song. It was then that I thought to myself “if he’s gone, then that’s the way to go”.

 

Soon after, the official paramedics arrived with their high-vis vests. They swarmed around Rob like yellow ants and immediately took control. We stood in silence as the crowd continued to cheer, none of us game enough to ask for an update. We simply stood and watched and hoped.

 

Now, I’d lost my voice by half time, but let me tell you, when Rob finally sat up from the concrete, blinked and looked around, the almighty roar that erupted from within our small group was something to behold. If the G had a roof, it would’ve been blown clean off. And when he gave us a thumbs up, we were a frenzied mess – jumping and cheering and hugging and crying. To onlookers and passers by, they’d have thought we were mad.

 

There are countless wonderful stories around football, but this is by far my new favourite. As the song goes “you can’t beat the boys of the Bulldogs breed” and Rob is living proof. Go Doggies.

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Comments

  1. Wow Jim pretty powerful stuff what a fantastic ending and a huge reminder to us all it is just a game

  2. Incredible, Jim. Just incredible. The Dogs were an irresistible force. So were their supporters.

  3. Mark Duffett says:

    Oh, wow. I don’t often get shivers reading something, but this was one of those occasions.

  4. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says:

    Amazing Jim, what a swirl of emotions. Best wishes too Rob, if you see this.

  5. Neil Anderson says:

    I read about this in the paper. I think there was a picture of Rob recovering in hospital so it was amazing to read that you were sitting next to him.
    I had to really train myself in the last two weeks to keep calm during the finals after having by-pass surgery ten years ago.
    So I sat there just stunned after each victory not quite believing what had just happened. It was only the tears that gave me away.

  6. jan courtin says:

    Thanks for this wonderful story, Jim. I was sitting towards the back of the Bay where you were sitting, and wondered at the time what was happening. So pleased that Rob came to and was, hopefully, able to know that his team had won.

  7. Extraordinary story Jim. Thanks for sharing.
    I’ve added a new verse in Rob’s honour.
    “A roar that raised the dead,
    That every Bulldog craves,
    Not a time for sleep or bed,
    Teddy winked at Charlie – as both turned in their graves.”

  8. Astonishing. Despite the declaration in the introduction of how this concludes, I found it a horrific, urgent read- as one should.

    Of course a full MCG functions as a small city with all the attendant human drama. On the flipside, I wonder how many births have happened at the footy, MCG or other?

    Thanks Jim. Glad it ended well.

  9. Peter Schumacher says:

    A phenomenal read about a phenomenal circumstance. This is about the most arresting (truly, no pun intended) football post, or article, or contribution that I have read. Heard about it on the news of course but to read a first hand account, well that is entirely another thing. The Almanac really comes to the fore when people are moved to share experiences like this on its site. I reckon that it should be a sort of post script inclusion in this year’s annual publication.

  10. E.regnans says:

    Staggering.

    Well played, those paramedics.

  11. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says:
  12. What an amazing story. Well done to those quick on their feet to assist. So glad to see there was a happy ending which I must say wasn’t looking promising.

  13. Neil Anderson says:

    Two of the channels covered the story last night with Rob in hospital getting a stent and meeting the men and women who saved him.
    Liked the quip from the guy who did the CPR. The first thing Rob asked when he came good was who won? The medic said he was nearly going to say the Swans as a joke but was worried Rob might go down again.

  14. Dave Brown says:

    Amazing story Jim! Glad Rob is ok and what news to wake up to. Well done to you and everybody else who jumped to Rob’s aid when he needed you.

  15. bring back the torp says:

    An extraordinary event, and well written.

    Pathos -then joy!

    Thankyou for sharing this with us.

  16. Anna Sublet says:

    Thanks for this brilliant, heart-stopping story. The passion and urgency were so well conveyed. What a thing to witness, and what a great outcome, for Rob and the Doggies. Great writing, Jim.

  17. Yvette Wroby says:

    Thank you for your story and thank you to people out there who know their medical responses . Magnificent article on so many levels x

  18. A wonderful tale, Jim.
    There’s nothing quite like a happy ending.

  19. Hi Jim,

    Your story is so great and you are helpful.

    I watched the video clip Rob meeting up people who saved him. You could be among them. Or do I miss?

    I’m happy that he is recovering and the Bulldogs won the flag.

    Cheers

    Yoshi

  20. The Footy Almanac makes The Guardian! Thanks to all the comments above regarding my post, I’m glad you all enjoyed it and if anyone wants to know, I’ve had several conversations with Rob and he’s doing superbly well! See the article attached in The Guardian…

    https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2016/oct/12/did-the-doggies-win-bulldogs-fan-survives-afl-grand-final-heart-attack

  21. Good result all round!

    My grandfather had a heart attack during the tense, closing stages of a Carlton v St Kilda match at Princes Park in 1989. He didn’t make it, but held on long enough to see his Blues get up by several points. The Carlton doctor actually jumped the fence to render assistance.

  22. Jim you have told a stunning story with great compassion. I work with heart attack survivors and every week we hear of people’s lives being saved by bystanders who were off duty health workers or every day people who had just recently learnt CPR. Fate? Luck? Always incredible.
    I especially loved your observation that the rhythm of the CPR seemed to be in sync with Sons of the West theme song.
    The British Heart Foundation produced a brilliant awareness campaign featuring footballer Vinnie Jones using song Staying Alive as a guide for people administering CPR.
    It’s on You Tube and incredible.
    Thanks so much Jim.

  23. Jim, what an extraordinary article or an an extraordinary day. Many thanks.

    Let us know whether you jump on the Doggies bandwagon full time!

    In any case, Go Dogs!

    Mick

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