I heard goalie admit abuse on radio, man tells court
The case of a former footballer from Northern Ireland who claims he was the victim of physical assault by ex-Stoke City goalkeeper Peter Fox has heard of an alleged admission by the accused.
Fox allegedly admitted to putting Deep Heat in the "sensitive places" of young footballers who got "too big for their boots", a witness has claimed.
John Washington told Preston Civil Court that he recalled hearing a pre-match interview with the then goalie sometime between 1986 and 1988 on a local radio programme.
Mr Washington told the hearing in which former Stoke City apprentice George Blackstock (44) is claiming damages against Mr Fox, that he was "shocked" upon hearing the comment.
Mr Blackstock, who is from Belfast, claims that he was twice subjected to 'The Glove' during the 1980s and has also started legal action against the club.
Although Mr Washington said he could not remember certain details about the aired show, he recalled Mr Fox - who later signed for Linfield - being asked by the BBC Radio Stoke interviewer how the younger players were progressing.
He said: "I can remember Peter saying what he did - 'If any young lad at Stoke gets too big for their boots we put Deep Heat in a sensitive place'. I'm sure about the Deep Heat."
He added that following the comment the reporter "moved on quickly and changed the subject on to tactics".
Mr Washington told the hearing that he had become aware of the case firstly in 2013 after reports in the local and national Press and then again last week. He said he came forward with the information "out of duty".
Mr Fox denied giving the former Stoke City apprentice 'The Glove', adding that it was "completely untrue".
He gave evidence at Preston County Court rebuking claims that he used a goalkeeper glove smeared with Deep Heat to assault Mr Blackstock on two occasions while being spurred on by other players.
Mr Fox told the hearing that he had been referred to as "Fantastic Mr Fox" and said he had been a club captain at the time.
He said of the alleged first incident: "I don't remember that. It was very rare that apprentices would mix with the professional first team."
He denied that the phrase "Foxy, give him the glove" was shouted to him as Mr Blackstock was held down on a physio table, adding: "It never happened."
Mr Fox, who had been an apprentice at Sheffield Wednesday, admitted that there was a "high jinx" culture in the dressing rooms involving verbal ribbing and said he would sometimes come in muddy from the pitch and give those who had showered bear hugs.
But he said that then manager Mick Mills wanted to keep the apprentices separate, and although their paths would cross, the apprentices would not hang around dressing rooms.
The case continues.