London (AFP) – A former Newcastle United player added his name Wednesday to a growing list of ex-footballers in England who said they had suffered sexual abuse during their time in the sport.
David Eatock broke his silence as it emerged that more than a quarter of the UK’s regional police forces were looking into allegations of historic child sex abuse within football.
Eatock, signed by Newcastle when Kevin Keegan was manager of the northeast club, said he was older than the majority of victims who have come forward since former Crewe Alexandra player Andy Woodward revealed a fortnight ago he was abused by convicted child molester Barry Bennell in the 1980s.
The now 40-year-old Eatock said he had been a victim of former youth coach George Ormond, who was sentenced to six years in 2002 for a string of offences committed over almost 25 years.
“One of the more difficult parts for me is that I wasn’t as young as some of the others,” Eatock told the Guardian newspaper.
“I was 18 when I got to know George Ormond. I can still remember the look on his face, how terrifying it was, and how his eyes were possessed.”
He added: “I’m just glad Andy Woodward, by speaking out, has given me the strength to do this because I never would have otherwise. It has been like a knot in my brain and I’m now trying to pick apart that knot.”
Tuesday saw Bennell, also a former youth coach, charged with eight counts of child abuse, prosecutors said.
Bennell, who has already served three jail terms for previous child sex offences, has faced a slew of new allegations by at least 20 former footballers spanning three decades beginning in the 1970s when he was working for Crewe Alexandra, Manchester City and Stoke City.
Bennell, who it was revealed on Monday had to be hospitalised when he was found unconscious in a hotel near London, will appear in court on December 14.
Essex and Norfolk Police are the latest forces to confirm they are investigating abuse claims within football, taking the current tally to 13.
– ‘Greatest crisis’ –
Football Association chairman Greg Clarke has called the developing scandal “the greatest crisis” in English football he could recall.
Police Scotland have also confirmed they have launched a probe following abuse allegations north of the border.
The FA, English football’s governing body, has set up an internal review headed by lawyer Kate Gallafent, an expert in child protection.
The British Government announced on Tuesday it would bring the police and the FA together for a meeting on the developing scandal.
Clarke took over as FA chairman in August and has already had to deal with the removal of Sam Allardyce as England coach over comments he made in a newspaper sting and a row with FIFA over whether England players could wear commemorative poppies on the pitch.
Meanwhile, a newspaper report on Tuesday claimed Chelsea made a secret payment to a former youth team player who accused a talent scout, the late Eddie Heath, of sexually assaulting him during the 1970s.
An undisclosed sum was given to the unnamed former player on the condition the alleged abuse would not be made public, The Daily Telegraph reported, citing a source.
The player went to the club around three years ago and has also spoken to the Metropolitan Police, the newspaper added.
Ahead of the report being published, Chelsea announced they had retained an external law firm to carry out an investigation.
“The club has contacted the FA to ensure that all possible assistance is provided as part of their wider investigation,” a Chelsea statement read.
“This will include providing the FA with any relevant information arising out of the club’s investigation.”
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