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