Scotland's predatory football coaches knew each other - we must get to the truth about historical child abuse

One CommonSpace reader, who wishes to remain anonymous, recounts his experience as a young football player in Scotland in the 1960s, and why he believes the truth about child abuse in the game in Scotland must be found

THE recent news of sexual abuse in football took me back to my formative years after players at English clubs began coming forward recently to tell us about being sexually assaulted by football coaches and officials and how it affected them.

I was fitba crazy when I was a youngster, fitba mad. It’s what you became in Glasgow.

I got my first football jersey, as we called it back in the early 1960s, from the Co-op at St George’s Cross. I played my first organised, competitive football match at the age of eight and that was me hooked on the 'beautiful game'. 

The lad who ran the team always seemed happy. He would spend time talking to me. He even came to my home one day to let my mother know that I was a valuable player and had the skill to perhaps move on to greater things. 

I played for my local life boy team and my primary school. Moving on to secondary school, I played for all the teams, under-13s up to under-18s, enjoying it all.

At the ages of 14 and 15, I got involved in playing boy’s club football in a Sunday league. Most of these matches were played on Glasgow Green and often we changed in a chapel hall in Ballater Street and walked along to the pitches just over the river. 

There were lots of very good players in the boy’s club ranks; a few went on to be professional players. Happy and innocent days, I was extremely naive about other things in life. I wasn’t exactly streetwise like some of the other boys in the team, I was polite.

The lad who ran the team always seemed happy. He would spend time talking to me. He even came to my home one day to let my mother know that I was a valuable player and had the skill to perhaps move on to greater things. 

I felt very proud, but my mother told me later that there was something she didn’t like about the lad. I couldn’t, at the time, understand what her concern was, but later I became aware that he was always trying to kiss me. I didn’t like this and I ran away from him as fast as I could.

I felt very proud, but my mother told me later that there was something she didn’t like about the lad. I couldn’t, at the time, understand what her concern was.

There was a man who was an official who came to watch us. Sometimes, he refereed our matches. He was obviously a friend of our team manager so we just accepted that. One day, I wasn’t picked to play for the team and this man who was about to referee the game invited me into his dressing room for a "chat". 

Once in the room, he noticed I was wearing trousers with pockets at the front, instead of at the sides. He asked if he could try them. I was not sure what he meant but he put his hand in my pocket and started to feel around. Fortunately, I 'dressed' on the other side of the pocket. 

I thought to myself, "this is wrong" and left the dressing room pretty sharpish. This happened in about 1968/69.

When I read about the English players, I thought I would do a Google news search to see if there was anything about my former team manager and this official. I found out that my team manager was convicted just this year for charges of using lewd and libidinous practices. These practices took place well after my time with the team. 

I also looked for news on the referee official, who was called Hugh Stevenson, but could not find anything. Then, to my amazement, two days later, allegations against Hugh Stevenson of abusing a former player were aired on BBC News.

What I would like to point out is that my manager, Hugh Stevenson and another well-known boy’s club manager who was also eventually imprisoned all knew each other in 1968.

Pete Haynes suffered terribly from the attentions of Hugh Stevenson. I was lucky to have run away from it all almost 10 years prior to his ordeal, almost 50 years ago. But Pete’s story is horrendous.

What I would like to point out is that my manager, Hugh Stevenson and another well-known boy’s club manager who was also eventually imprisoned all knew each other in 1968. I have horrible fears of the existence of some sort of little triangle or even wider group of trusted individuals with a penchant for young boys, and I hope the truth, whatever it may be, will be found. 

The three men may have been involved prior to the dates in the 1970s when others came forward to inform the authorities about them. I am sure there will be much more on these matters. 

Recently, another youth football official, Jim McCafferty, was found out and he will face court in January.

Innocent boys have suffered since then. Their lives ruined or even ended because of these people.

I have horrible fears of the existence of some sort of little triangle or even wider group of trusted individuals with a penchant for young boys, and I hope the truth, whatever it may be, will be found. 

We trusted these people when we were young, looked up to them, hoping that they would help us in a possible career in football.

Fitba was crazy, fitba was mad; but fitba was also mentally and physically painful for some young and innocent boys.

Picture courtesy of Stuz?

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