Steve Robson, Manchester Evening News, June 4, 2018
A brutal attack on a teenage rugby player carried out by a gang of men in Rochdale is being treated as a hate crime, police have said.
Matthew Hayden, 17, has been left with a fractured skull and needed emergency surgery for a bleed on the brain following the assault on Smithy Bridge Road in Littleborough in the early hours of Saturday.
The horrific incident was sparked by a minor prang between a Vauxhall Corsa and a black Nissan Micra.
When Matthew got out of the Corsa, he was first struck by the Micra, flipping him over the bonnet, then attacked with a golf club.
His friend Josh Jones, 18, who was in the driver’s seat of the Corsa suffered injuries to his hand and his face when another one of the offenders smashed the car window with a metal object, believed to be a crowbar.
Police said the group of four or five Asian males hurled racial abuse at Matthew and his friends as they fled towards Hollingworth Lake.
A third friend Zac Madden, who was a passenger in the car, managed to escape unharmed.
Police initially did not reveal any details of a possible motive – but tonight confirmed the attack is being treated as a hate crime.
But he’s been forced to cancel a scholarship at a university in America this summer and it is feared he may never play rugby again.
Aaron Jones, from Littleborough RUFC, told the MEN: “It has shocked everyone at the club. Matthew and Josh are down-to-earth lads, they’re not troublemakers.
“They’ve been playing for first team and really made a big impression on people at the club.
“Everyone is relieved they are alright. Matthew knows he is lucky to be alive and we just want those who did this to be caught.”
Matthew’s family described their son as ‘a caring young man.’
They added: “He is always the first to help anybody in need. He was one of the first people onto the M62 to help the stranded people during the ‘Beast from the East’. He is loyal and caring and has a very gentle nature.
“He had just been offered a rugby scholarship in America and was so excited. He is devastated that this has been taken away from him.
“We would urge anybody who has any information to contact the police as soon as possible.”
Detective Inspector Mark McDowall of GMP’s Rochdale borough, said: “The man is still in hospital recovering from this brutal assault and I hope he makes a speedy recovery.
“This was an unprovoked attack that has left the victim with life changing injuries, so it’s vital that we find the people responsible for this horrendous incident.
“Even though this happened in the early hours of the morning, I’d urge anyone who heard or saw anything out of the ordinary on Smithy Bridge Road, or who saw the men in the black Nissan Micra at any time, to get in touch.
“They are described as being four or five Asian males, of thin build and aged between late teens to early twenties.
“Our officers will be carrying out additional patrols in the area while the investigation continues, so I’d ask that you speak to them directly or ring 0161 856 8441 if you have any information.”