Country football finals are postponed when injured player wakes up from coma

A north-east Victorian Country football league is postponing its final series after a player had to fight for his life following a hit on the pitch at the weekend.

Ben Duffield was involved in a collision with another player while contesting for the ball during a reserve final between Greta and Milawa.

It left him with a broken sternum, damaged lung, and internal bleeding, leading to heart problems.

“It was kind of a head-on collision between two players,” said Greta Football and Netball Club president Gary Hogan.

“It was certainly nothing outside of what would normally happen on a football field with a collision.

“It was like he was out of breath. He got up off the ground and thought that in a minute or so he would be right.”

two children, man and woman, matching, christmas, pj, smiling
Ben Duffield with his partner and children.(Supplied)

Duffield began to feel worse and was taken in for further evaluation before collapsing in the club rooms.

The club’s manager, two nurses and an off-duty paramedic, who was a spectator at the match, performed CPR on Mr. Duffield for around 35 minutes.

A ground-mounted defibrillator in Wangaratta was also used on Mr Duffield before an air ambulance arrived and took him to Royal Melbourne Hospital.

As a result, the senior final between Greta and Bonnie Doon was canceled just before halftime.

out of coma

Hogan said there were initial concerns about permanent damage given how long Duffield required CPR.

But he said things now look promising for the father of two, who came out of an induced coma yesterday.

“He was awake, sitting up and talking, but still heavily sedated,” Hogan said.

“He has a memory of the game. He remembers taking the hit and he remembers getting up off the ground, so that’s pretty positive.”

The club have praised those who stepped in to help that day and for acting so quickly.

“We were very lucky to have those people there because if they hadn’t been there, the outcome could have been a lot different,” Hogan said.

“For what went wrong the day a lot of things went right.”

Changes to finals

The Ovens and King Football Netball league has announced changes to its final series following the incident.

“The board appreciates the efforts of the affected catering clubs, the negotiation of quick liquor license changes, and everyone involved who will be affected by this,” said board chairman Peter Byrne.

“The league acted as quickly and responsibly as possible to ensure the well-being of the patient at the time and the well-being of the players, both mentally and physically, who were playing was paramount in the decision.”

The game between Greta and Bonnie Doon that was canceled will be repeated on September 3.

two men in soccer uniform with beer
The Ovens and King Football Netball League have made changes to the final series following Ben’s injury.(Supplied)

The preliminary final for all qualified teams will be played on September 10 and the grand final will be on September 17.

A fundraising blanket will be walked on the final big day to help with fundraising efforts to support Mr. Duffield and his family.

A friend has also created a GoFundMe page, which has raised over $30,000.

“We’re blown away by the support. We’re just a farming community,” Hogan said.

“In Greta, there is no town. There is no pub, there is no shop, there is no post office, there is only the football club. That is our community.”

Clubs from the Ovens and King League, as well as from other leagues in the Northeast, are also showing their support.

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