Hud­der­s­field star Matty: I lost it after my friend died... I could not ad­mit it, but I needed help

Sunday Mirror (Northern Ireland) - - Sports - BY JULIE STOTT

NIGHT­MARES, an­gry mood swings and try­ing to hide in­side al­co­holic obliv­ion used to be the norm for Matty English.

The Hud­der­s­field Giants prop – one of the ris­ing stars in Su­per League – even ques­tioned whether he could carry on play­ing rugby at all.

But at the heart of it was a se­cret trauma that English had kept bot­tled up be­cause of a fear his team-mates would think he was weak.

It was only when his mother heard him hav­ing a par­tic­u­larly bad night­mare that English fi­nally broke down and re­vealed the hor­rors he was fac­ing.

And now the 21-year-old hopes that by speak­ing out he can help other peo­ple who are go­ing through men­tal health prob­lems.

English said: “I thought that talk­ing about my prob­lems would show a weak­ness and that peo­ple would think I was an id­iot.

“But that is such a stupid way to look at it.”

English’s men­tal health took a nose­dive after see­ing his Giants team-mate Ro­nan Costello suf­fer a hor­rific head in­jury dur­ing an Un­der-19s match against Sal­ford in June 2016. Costello, who was

17, had to un­dergo brain surgery but died in hospi­tal three days later.

A ver­dict of ‘ac­ci­den­tal death’ was recorded at the in­quest.

English, who was stand­ing next to Costello when he sus­tained the head in­jury in a tackle, said: “It is some­thing I wish I could for­get, but I will never get that im­age out of my head.

“It fright­ened all of us and there were tears ev­ery­where when the doc­tor told us Ro­nan prob­a­bly wasn’t go­ing to sur­vive. It still gives me shiv­ers.”

English now knows he failed to grieve prop­erly be­cause he was too wor­ried about the ef­fect that it might have on oth­ers. He re­called: “I wouldn’t talk to any­one about how I felt. Two years down the line and I was hav­ing night­mares, flash­backs, mood swings.

“If I had a drink all the emo­tions came rac­ing back, so I’d get blind drunk to make them go.

“Ev­ery time we had a team do, ev­ery­one seemed to be get­ting par­a­lyt­i­cally drunk just to for­get it. No­body would men­tion it – it was taboo.

“A few lads stopped play­ing be­cause of it and I also ques­tioned whether I should stop.”

With the help of his par­ents and the club, English last year agreed to have coun­selling.

He re­called: “I could un­leash the bot­tled up en­ergy. If I hadn’t I’d still be strug­gling.”

English has turned a cor­ner since, with an Eng­land Knights call-up, and com­par­isons to Eng­land su­per­star prop James Gra­ham.

English said: “If I be­come half the player that he is I would be very lucky.”

He added: “We have the play­ers to get out of this mess.”

Mean­while, Danny Mcguire has urged Hull KR’s rel­e­ga­tion ri­vals to bring it on if they dare.

The 36-year-old half back, who re­tires at the end of the sea­son, said: “There are re­ally pos­i­tive signs. I’ve got seven games left in my legs and I’m de­ter­mined to fin­ish well.”

No­body would men­tion Ro­nan’s death... it was taboo

DARK TIMES: Hud­der­s­field’s Matty English

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