In our third instalment of Inside Non-League, our undercover player gives us his thoughts on the explosive new revelations which have rocked our national sport to its very core.
The recent ‘revelations’ regarding Child Abuse in Football came as a surprise to many. Not me. In fact the only surprise is that it’s taken as long as it has to become public knowledge.
Let’s analyse the situation these children find themselves in and it’s very easy to identify why this abuse happened and why it has been covered. These young lads are involved in a ‘dream’ setting. Playing for a professional football club. The adults, in this case, coaches have their future in the palm of their hands. Those young children are innocent, naïve and will do anything to succeed and further themselves in the game. TThey have no idea or understanding of the perverse motives of the ‘Adults’ in charge.
The same goes for my profession. I am a teacher by trade and moonlight as a ‘half decent’ Non-league Footballer. Where there are children, there are usually adults, where there are Adults in Charge of Children, there is always a risk. It seems absolutely absurd to say ‘all children are at risk’ but in all honesty, they are. The Adults in question have so much power of these youngsters. This includes emotional and personal power. The use of gifts, promises and selling the dream. It actually makes me feel sick to my stomach that such people could be capable of such abuse of their position. How can you really trust anybody in modern society with the welfare of your child? Really think about that question for a minute, how excruciatingly upsetting is that? I am now in a position where as a teacher, I feel any comment or gesture perceived in the wrong manner could potentially cost me my job or have me labelled as ‘dodgy’. I now feel I have to reconsider my approach to my job. Furthermore, as a prospective parent, I feel nobody is to be trusted around my child. Society, well actually perverts and paedophiles, have well and truly fucked both of the things I love.
Let’s take the recent case of Bob Higgins. A ‘man’ and I’m using that term very fucking lightly if the claims against him are true recently hounded over claims of a sexual nature, most notably by Matthew Le Tissier. A letter from the FA was sent out in 1989!! 1989 for fuck sake. 27 years ago almost. The letter detailed that he was considered a potential threat and should avoid hiring him. Furthermore, he was tried on sexual charges in 1992, yet nothing was said on the matter when hired at Southampton. Surely, even if a bloke has been accused of such distasteful acts, alarm bells should be ringing? No, ok, he worked for Peterborough and Southampton, later working for Non-League Teams Winchester City and a two year spell with Fleet Town, which ended acrimoniously as recently as this month. Right, how has this happened? Why have the FA not done more to protect the young players? Clubs didn’t run a DBS check because he wasn’t’ working with Children. Come on, its 2016, if he wanted to have access to the youth sides, at non-League clubs, that’s not difficult.
Leads me to the next question, how much do the FA really know? Actually let me rephrase, how much are they claiming they didn’t know? At the time of writing, a total of 450 people have alleged they were victims and 55 football clubs are linked to allegations of abuse.
Some 20 police forces have announced investigations into claims of sexual abuse in football.
That’s an awful lot of people, an awful lot of abuse, for the FA to be aware or to do more. Maybe I’m being cynical, but then again maybe I’m being realistic. The Bob Higgins incident isn’t isolated rather. Barry Bennell, is another name at the centre of this terrible saga. Incidents called into question as far back as 1980, perhaps even further. That’s 36 years! How many others has he potentially abused, how many other lives has he potentially ruined.
“ I now realise the effects of Bennell’s actions were much more far-reaching than I knew then. I have come to terms with the fact Bennell’s actions influenced almost every event and relationship in my life.”
That’s a direct quote from David White who suffered abuse at the hands of Bennell.
I need no words to summarise that. I could go on, state more cases, more names, but I truly believe I’ll be a dog barking up the wrong tree. The frank reality is, there are still people working in football doing this, there will still be people who attempt to carry on. The FA and other related parties need to get together and look strongly at the ‘vetting’ process and how easy it is for people to become involved in Grassroots.
This is a story, sadly that won’t have an ending.