‘I was punched and knocked out’

Manchester Evening News - - NEWS - So­phie.halle-richards@trin­i­tymir­ror.com @so­phieehr

A MAN was left with a bro­ken an­kle af­ter a brawl erupted at Castle­field Bowl dur­ing the screen­ing of England’s World Cup semi-final against Croa­tia.

Thomas Key, 24, needed surgery af­ter he was knocked un­con­scious shortly af­ter Croa­tia’s first goal on Wed­nes­day night.

The bar­tender, from Ash­to­nun­der-Lyne, was among 8,000 foot­ball fans at the sold-out event.

Thomas was taken to Manch­ester Royal In­fir­mary af­ter he was punched twice in the face and knocked to the floor. He said he was hit af­ter a group of men be­came ‘very rowdy’ fol­low­ing Croa­tia’s 68th minute goal.

Se­cu­rity staff kicked the men out be­fore po­lice ar­rived. No ar­rests were made. Speak­ing to the M.E.N. from his hos­pi­tal bed, Thomas said: “I just re­mem­ber shortly af­ter Croa­tia scored, seven of them started get­ting rowdy.

“There were a few girls in our group and I didn’t want them to get in­volved so I stood in the way.

“I took a few punches to the face, my jaw is aching.

“I took one more and then I fell to the floor.

“I woke up on a stretcher with a bro­ken an­kle.

“My friends say I fell un­con­scious for a few min­utes, I don’t re­mem­ber go­ing to the floor.

“I was taken to hos­pi­tal and they were kicked out so I can’t re­mem­ber what they looked like. Un­til the at­tack there was a bril­liant at­mos­phere.

“I was hug­ging strangers and cel­e­brat­ing with peo­ple I don’t know.

“That is what foot­ball is all about to me - meet­ing peo­ple and hav­ing fun - not vi­o­lence.”

Thomas, who was due to com­plete a triathlon in Oc­to­ber, had to have a metal plate put in his an­kle, which will take six to eight weeks to heal.

A GMP spokes­woman said: “Po­lice were called just af­ter 8.40pm to re­ports of fight­ing.

“The men had al­ready been ejected from the venue when po­lice ar­rived and the case is now closed.”

Thomas Kelly in hos­pi­tal

Thomas Kelly in the Manch­ester 10k run in May

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