A Hastings Hibernian player collapsed and died of a suspected heart attack not long after a football match in Napier yesterday.

"It was very sad," said Hibernian Masters team spokesman Allan Jack, disclosing the team cancelled their next game against Napier Marist kicking off at 1pm.

"Napier Marist graciously didn't play and declared it a draw."

The Hibernian team, which has members who have played alongside each other for almost three decades, decided to play the 3pm kick off against Birkenhead Masters in memory of Jeff Partington, winning 5-0.


A doctor, fire officers and medics did their best but the goalkeeper was pronounced dead at the Park Island grounds.

"There were nine of them working on him for well over an hour," Mr Jack said of the tragedy during a game in the annual New Zealand Marist Tournament.

The Hibernian Masters team had just finished against Chernobyls, of Wellington, on pitch 7 following an 11am kick-off in a Napier Marist-hosted tourney that had lured 36 affiliated teams from throughout the country to compete in men, women and masters grades.

Napier Marist club president Gerard Cook, in a preview in Hawke's Bay Today's Saturday edition, had singled out Hibernian for encapsulating the spirit of the tourney.

Despite having one of the shortest journeys to the tourney, some of the team members were making a weekend of it by hiring accommodation at the Westshore Inn, Cook had said.

Mr Jack said Mr Partington's 18-year-old daughter, Lauren, was a goalkeeper for the Hibernian women's social B team and had watched the emergency operation unfold.

"Jeff said after the game he was getting a bit chesty and wasn't feeling very well," he said, revealing they were going to rush the early childhood care centre driver to the Hawke's Bay Hospital in Hastings but he had collapsed on the field.

Teammates had checked to see if he was okay and, on discovering he was responding, phoned 111.

Mr Jack said there was a doctor at the park who attended to him before the fire officers arrived to perform CPR on him.

"The paramedics arrived shortly but they said they could only work on him so much," he said.

A family member was phoned and when she arrived he was pronounced dead on the scene.

Mr Partington, who had playing for the Bay fourth division for two years, was originally an "on-and-off member" of the Hastings Rovers Club, which merged with the Flaxmere-based Hibernian FC in 2014 to become Hastings Hibernian.

The team wore black armbands yesterday and observed a minute's silence before their remaining games as a mark of respect for Mr Partington.

Tourney organiser Kevin Murphy said yesterday both the Hibernian women's social teams and their two men's teams defaulted their games immediately after the tragedy.

"It was such a tragedy that we had to deal with the situation. We had a minute's silence before the games throughout the park," Mr Murphy said.

Mr Partington, believed to be aged in his 50s, is survived by his three children, Tracey, 23, Matthew, 20, and Lauren, 18.