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Abuse claim footballer 'lying'

Published 07/07/2015

Former trainee George Blackstock was scouted by Stoke City when he was just short of 16
Former trainee George Blackstock was scouted by Stoke City when he was just short of 16

A former Stoke City apprentice who alleges he was physically assaulted by a former player as the club turned a "blind eye" has been accused of lying "for financial gain".

Warehouse supervisor George Blackstock, 44, is claiming damages against the club and former goalkeeper Peter Fox, alleging he was twice subjected to 'The Glove' during the 1980s.

He said the alleged abuse incident, which involved Mr Fox using the finger of a goalkeeping glove smeared in Deep Heat, had caused him to turn to drink.

The then apprentice midfielder told Preston County Court the two alleged assaults between 1986 and 1988 occurred while he was held down by up to three other first team players.

And he claimed they led to a deterioration in his form on the football pitch and caused him post-traumatic stress.

But during cross-examination, Joseph Mulderig, representing Mr Fox, said logs of his performance kept by youth team manager Tony Lacey showed that in the weeks after the alleged assaults, he was noted as playing "his best football" and showing "further improvement".

Mr Blackstock spent just over two years at the club before returning home to Belfast after former England captain and Stoke manager Mick Mills released him because at 5ft 4ins he was too small.

Mr Blackstock told the court the alleged abuse made him turn to drink to "deal with the intrusive memories".

The court was previously told that a large hot metal teapot was also applied to his buttocks by an unidentified first team player and that apprentices were treated as "skivvies" to first team players.

He said that as an 18-year-old scouted by the club two years earlier, he would buy Jack Daniels and vodka from an off-licence and drink it outside.

He said: "I drank to forget and drank excessively to forget. I drank to forget the abuse that I had suffered at Stoke Football Club."

But the court heard that one performance report after the first alleged assault said: "George is playing his best football since being here."

Another around the time of the alleged second assault read: "He is playing his best football."

Mr Mulderig suggested comments on his performance and attitude like "excellent" and "very good" did not suggest a loss of form.

But Mr Blackstock said any player with full-time training would improve

"I was trying to make it as a professional footballer, trying my best, trying to succeed in my game after being abused.

"It was hard. I will tell you what was not there, desire. The desire to succeed. It knocked a part of me out, the abuse I suffered at the hands of these people. My heart had gone after the abuse. It was just too hard to stay."

But Mr Mulderig suggested Mr Blackstock was "willing to lie for financial gain" and embellish to "bolster his claim".

The court heard that he failed to disclose his alleged heavy drinking in life insurance policies and that his claims about his drinking in court and what he told his GP were "very different".

The court was also told that Mr Blackstock also failed to make reference to his alleged alcohol problem on his Criminal Injuries Compensation Authorities (CICA) claim form, which dictates the level of reward according to the severity of injuries.

Mr Blackstock told the court that the first alleged 'Gloving' incident happened six to eight weeks into his apprenticeship after the tea he made for the first team players went cold.

He told the hearing he was grabbed and held down by two players, George Berry and Steve Parkin, and then assaulted.

The court was told that the second alleged incident happened 12-15 months later after Mr Blackstock was running the line in a training game.

He alleges he was again assaulted because he didn't allow a goal.

Mr Blackstock claims that Mr Fox pointed at him and said "that will teach you a lesson".

He also alleges a "scalding hot" teapot was then placed on his backside.

Mr Fox denies the claims.

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