Footballer's abuse claim a lie to get money, court told
A former Stoke City apprentice from Northern Ireland 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 is claiming damages against the club and former goalkeeper Peter Fox, alleging he was twice subjected to 'The Glove' in the 1980s.
He said the alleged abuse, which involved Mr Fox - who later signed for Linfield - 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. 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 (44) spent just over two years at the club before returning 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 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 FC."
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."
But Mr Blackstock said any player with full-time training would improve.