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> Andy Woodward's Story
Juan King
post Nov 18 2016, 11:02 AM
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Awful Story this, from The Guardian - A sexual predator who was a football coach/scout whilst also sexual abusing the youth within his squad.
A lot of the stuff happened at Crewe - a club which used to take lots of young lads from this area in the 80s & 90s.



It isn’t easy sitting opposite Andy Woodward and hearing, close up, the unspeakable horrors of his childhood and the reasons
why, at the age of 43, he finally feels able to tell his story and free himself from the secret – “the massive, horrible burden”
– that has shaped his life.

It has been there since the age of 11 when a football-daft kid from a family of Manchester United supporters first came to the
attention of the coach, scout and serial paedophile Barry Bennell and it is difficult even to contemplate how much Woodward
has suffered before reaching this point where he has offered to waive his anonymity and speak publicly about it for the first time.

He is doing so in the belief there are many others – potentially hundreds, he says – who are living with their own secrets, given
Bennell’s employment at Crewe Alexandra in the 1980s and 1990s and close association in the past with Stoke City and Manchester City,
as well as junior teams in Derbyshire, Staffordshire, Cheshire and Greater Manchester.

Bennell was sentenced to nine years in prison in 1998 after admitting 23 specimen charges of sexual offences against six boys aged 9 to 15.
Woodward was among the victims at Crewe and knows of other former pros who were targeted. Many more, he suspects, never made it as
professional footballers, whereas his own career, also featuring spells at Bury, Sheffield United and Scunthorpe United, ended at the age of 29
because he was unable to cope with the horrendous aftereffects of what he had to endure.

Woodward had to fake an injury during one game because he was having the kind of panic attack that became a regular feature in his career.
He has been suicidal “on probably 10 occasions”. He has spent his professional life battling depression and anxiety, and is haunted by what a
man who described himself in legal proceedings as a “monster” told him about some of the other victims.

“My life has been ruined until the age of 43,” Woodward says. “But how many others are there? I’m talking about hundreds of children who
Barry Bennell cherry-picked for various football teams and who now, as adults, might still be living with that awful fear.

Woodward’s ordeal began when he was playing for Stockport Boys and Bennell invited him to train with one of his teams on Manchester City’s
pitches at Platt Lane. Bennell talent-spotted boys, aged nine to 14, around the north-west and Midlands over three decades and Woodward was
talented enough to be directed towards Crewe’s youth setup. “I just wanted to play football. My mum and dad will say that I always had a football
in my hands, wherever I went. I saw Crewe as the start of that dream. But I was soft-natured, too, and it was the softer, weaker boys Bennell targeted.”

When the abuse started, Bennell used threats and blackmail to make sure his victims did not go against him. “What he’d do sometimes, to show the
fear factor and make sure I never told anyone, was get out some nunchucks,” Woodward says. “He was a master with them. He’d tell me to hold out
a piece of paper. I’d be physically shaking. Then he’d hit it with enough force to split it in half and make a little comment: ‘You see what I can do, you
see how powerful I am?’

“It was either threats of violence or he’d use football to manipulate control. If I upset him in any way, he’d drop me from the team. ‘At any point,’
he’d tell me, ‘you will go, you will disappear and that dream won’t happen.’ It was emotional blackmail, all the time.”

The young Woodward became “very introverted, I didn’t lead a normal teenage life”. Yet there are other parts of this story that make it even more
chilling. When Woodward was 14, Bennell started having a relationship with his victim’s 16-year-old sister. “He was so much older he didn’t want people
to know at first and told me I would never play football again if I breathed a word of it,” Woodward says. “I was frightened to death because he had complete
power over me by that stage. It was like a double whammy and he would try to abuse me sometimes even with my sister in the same house. Later, when
their relationship became public, he would come round for Sunday dinner every weekend, sitting with my mum and dad and my family, laughing and joking.
I was so frightened of him I just had to suffer in silence.”

The wedding took place in 1991 and Woodward, at 18, had to go through the hellish ordeal of seeing the man who had exploited, controlled and abused him
for years become his brother‑in‑law. “I had to live with that on top of everything else,” he says. “I had to attend that wedding, standing in the church when
I really wanted to rip his throat out. It was torture – that’s the only word to describe it.”

Despite everything, Woodward progressed through the ranks at Crewe and made his first-team debut a year later. Mentally, however, he could not cope.
“From the age of 11 I had lived with a secret. And living with a secret is probably one of the hardest things you can ever live with. If you look at my career
you will see I was plagued with quite a few injuries. A lot of those injuries were actually mental injuries.

He signed for Bury in 1995 and after a productive first season at Gigg Lane everything started to unravel again. “At one point during the police investigation
I went to see [the manager] Stan Ternent in his office and explained what had happened to me. It was hard because us footballers are supposed to be butch
and strong, aren’t we? It’s all banter and changing-room jokes, supposedly. But I’d been having a mental breakdown. I’d lost a couple of years and I felt I
had to tell him.”

One of Bennell’s victims had reported him and the Cheshire, Derbyshire and North Wales police forces began an investigation that also involved allegations of
him preying on boys on football courses in Spain and the United States, as well as at the Butlin’s in Pwllheli. The judge talked of Bennell exploiting the power
he had to “point young boys in the right direction and help them with their careers and wishes to become successful footballers. They were prepared to do
almost anything you asked.”

The hearing at Chester crown court was told one of Bennell’s offences took place on one of Crewe’s training pitches. Another occurred at the home of Dario Gradi,
the club’s manager, though the court heard Gradi did not know about it. One of Bennell’s tricks was to encourage boys to stay in his bedroom by frightening them
with horror films or ghost stories. He was initially charged with 45 offences, including b****ry and attempted b****ry, but 22 were allowed to lie on file.

Woodward moved on to Bramall Lane but he had been receiving treatment in the Priory clinic and his medication affected his weight and fitness. He made only three
league appearances for his new club before moving to Scunthorpe on loan. He then had a short spell at Halifax and, finally, Northwich Victoria before giving up.
In total, a player Warnock rated as one of the best defenders he had ever managed made only 154 league starts in 10 years.

He did confide in Warnock and, as with Ternent, will always be grateful for his manager’s support. Yet the player did not feel able to tell his team‑mates. “In 2016,
at least people have an understanding of anxiety and panic attacks. Back then, I suffered in silence. That was the way football was – and it was horrendous.”

Bennell, now 62, was jailed for two years in May 2015 for another historic case involving a 12-year-old boy in Macclesfield and admitted in a 2012 interview with
the Sunday Times that Gary Speed was one of the youngsters who stayed at his house. Bennell told the newspaper he had not abused Speed, but added that even
if he had done he would be unlikely to admit it anyway. When the reporter told him he would be left in peace, he replied: “There’s no peace now. How can you have
peace when you’ve killed somebody?” He added: “To me, killing someone is what you’ve done to them, because their life’s never the same again.” Lawyers for Speed’s
wife, Louise, subsequently put out a statement saying they had been assured that the former Wales manager was not one of Bennell’s victims.

Woodward tells his story with great courage and eloquence and it would be wrong to assume he is angry with the world at large. He does, however, feel let down by
the sport he grew up loving, and the dressing-room culture of the day, he says, that meant keeping everything in-house. “Throughout those years at Crewe, so many
people used to talk about it. Other players would say directly to my face: ‘I bet he does this to you, we know he does that.’ There was all that dressing-room bravado.
Then, outside the club, it was never discussed. That’s how football worked back then: ‘We can talk about it within these walls, but we keep it watertight and it doesn’t
go any further.’ Nobody wanted to break that circle of trust.

“That club has been never been held accountable. My belief, after all these years, is that it must have been well known within the club that he had young boys staying
over. That’s the reason why I feel let down by Crewe. I wasn’t at school but I was at a professional football club who had a duty to protect children, and there were
hundreds of children running around that place.”

Talking about what happened, he hopes, will give him some form of closure. But it will be always with him and he still suffers, every single day. “Even now, when the
results come through on a Saturday and it says ‘Crewe Alexandra’ I get that awful feeling and my stomach turns. And that’s me at 43.”

He did, however, play against them for Bury a couple of times, home and away. “At Gigg Lane I had one of my best games for a long time. I was brilliant that day and
it felt like it was me fighting back. Then at Gresty Road I scored – and I’d never scored. But the truth is that going back to Crewe haunted me. It took a lot of inner
strength on the coach heading down the motorway and I haven’t been there since. I avoid Crewe now. I will never set foot anywhere near that town again.”

This post has been edited by Juan King: Nov 18 2016, 11:13 AM


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Lobster
post Nov 18 2016, 12:31 PM
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Powerful and very disturbing article. It does seem incredible how prevalent this kind of stuff was even into the 90s, and how little was done about it.
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Bertha the Blue
post Nov 18 2016, 04:22 PM
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A very sad story. And the pervert had the nerve to join his family. I remember this lad scoring for Crewe against us and he always looked like a player who would go on to bigger and better things.
It just goes to show, trust nobody with your kids.
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Burrfect
post Nov 18 2016, 06:15 PM
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QUOTE (XWWB @ Nov 18 2016, 12:31 PM) *
Powerful and very disturbing article. It does seem incredible how prevalent this kind of stuff was even into the 90s, and how little was done about it.

Saville is possibly the biggest example of how you could not only get away with it but also make a big joke out of it re " she told me she was 16 " comment when he answered the phone to everyone.
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waggoner
post Nov 19 2016, 07:39 AM
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QUOTE (XWWB @ Nov 18 2016, 12:31 PM) *
Powerful and very disturbing article. It does seem incredible how prevalent this kind of stuff was even into the 90s, and how little was done about it.

I'm sure we had one at Chester city in the 90s got jailed for it. Think he was from Saughall. Can't for the life of me remember his name
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Harry Lime
post Nov 19 2016, 08:33 AM
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QUOTE (Bertha the Blue @ Nov 18 2016, 04:22 PM) *
A very sad story. And the pervert had the nerve to join his family. I remember this lad scoring for Crewe against us and he always looked like a player who would go on to bigger and better things.
It just goes to show, trust nobody with your kids.


Weren't there a few comments about Dario Grady around this time? Maybe this is where they stemmed from.

Andy was on TV the other morning and seemed a decent bloke who'd suffered for years as a result of this. Very sad story, that seems all too prevalent in our society.

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Bertha the Blue
post Nov 19 2016, 12:40 PM
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QUOTE (waggoner @ Nov 19 2016, 07:39 AM) *
QUOTE (XWWB @ Nov 18 2016, 12:31 PM) *
Powerful and very disturbing article. It does seem incredible how prevalent this kind of stuff was even into the 90s, and how little was done about it.

I'm sure we had one at Chester city in the 90s got jailed for it. Think he was from Saughall. Can't for the life of me remember his name

You're right, we did, and I can't remember his name either but I recall that he served about a year and then he purposely drove his car into a wall in Backford, killing himself.
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Billy W
post Nov 19 2016, 08:27 PM
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QUOTE (Harry Lime @ Nov 19 2016, 08:33 AM) *
QUOTE (Bertha the Blue @ Nov 18 2016, 04:22 PM) *
A very sad story. And the pervert had the nerve to join his family. I remember this lad scoring for Crewe against us and he always looked like a player who would go on to bigger and better things.
It just goes to show, trust nobody with your kids.


Weren't there a few comments about Dario Grady around this time? Maybe this is where they stemmed from.

Andy was on TV the other morning and seemed a decent bloke who'd suffered for years as a result of this. Very sad story, that seems all too prevalent in our society.

Yes there's were comments about DG but whether there was any substance in them, I've no idea.

In today's paper others have come forward claiming a person still involved with football preyed on young boys and Cheshire police will investigate.
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waggoner
post Nov 19 2016, 08:51 PM
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QUOTE (Bertha the Blue @ Nov 19 2016, 12:40 PM) *
QUOTE (waggoner @ Nov 19 2016, 07:39 AM) *
QUOTE (XWWB @ Nov 18 2016, 12:31 PM) *
Powerful and very disturbing article. It does seem incredible how prevalent this kind of stuff was even into the 90s, and how little was done about it.

I'm sure we had one at Chester city in the 90s got jailed for it. Think he was from Saughall. Can't for the life of me remember his name

You're right, we did, and I can't remember his name either but I recall that he served about a year and then he purposely drove his car into a wall in Backford, killing himself.

Got it. Simon Williamson?
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Bertha the Blue
post Nov 19 2016, 11:28 PM
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QUOTE (waggoner @ Nov 19 2016, 08:51 PM) *
QUOTE (Bertha the Blue @ Nov 19 2016, 12:40 PM) *
QUOTE (waggoner @ Nov 19 2016, 07:39 AM) *
QUOTE (XWWB @ Nov 18 2016, 12:31 PM) *
Powerful and very disturbing article. It does seem incredible how prevalent this kind of stuff was even into the 90s, and how little was done about it.

I'm sure we had one at Chester city in the 90s got jailed for it. Think he was from Saughall. Can't for the life of me remember his name

You're right, we did, and I can't remember his name either but I recall that he served about a year and then he purposely drove his car into a wall in Backford, killing himself.

Got it. Simon Williamson?

That's the one.
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post Nov 20 2016, 12:00 AM
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QUOTE (Bertha the Blue @ Nov 19 2016, 11:28 PM) *
QUOTE (waggoner @ Nov 19 2016, 08:51 PM) *
QUOTE (Bertha the Blue @ Nov 19 2016, 12:40 PM) *
QUOTE (waggoner @ Nov 19 2016, 07:39 AM) *
QUOTE (XWWB @ Nov 18 2016, 12:31 PM) *
Powerful and very disturbing article. It does seem incredible how prevalent this kind of stuff was even into the 90s, and how little was done about it.

I'm sure we had one at Chester city in the 90s got jailed for it. Think he was from Saughall. Can't for the life of me remember his name

You're right, we did, and I can't remember his name either but I recall that he served about a year and then he purposely drove his car into a wall in Backford, killing himself.

Got it. Simon Williamson?

That's the one.


I remember him, used to work in the club shop all the time if it's who I'm thinking of. Is that true? I had no idea.
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post Nov 20 2016, 07:39 AM
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QUOTE (XWWB @ Nov 20 2016, 02:00 AM) *
QUOTE (Bertha the Blue @ Nov 19 2016, 11:28 PM) *
QUOTE (waggoner @ Nov 19 2016, 08:51 PM) *
QUOTE (Bertha the Blue @ Nov 19 2016, 12:40 PM) *
QUOTE (waggoner @ Nov 19 2016, 07:39 AM) *
QUOTE (XWWB @ Nov 18 2016, 12:31 PM) *
Powerful and very disturbing article. It does seem incredible how prevalent this kind of stuff was even into the 90s, and how little was done about it.

I'm sure we had one at Chester city in the 90s got jailed for it. Think he was from Saughall. Can't for the life of me remember his name

You're right, we did, and I can't remember his name either but I recall that he served about a year and then he purposely drove his car into a wall in Backford, killing himself.

Got it. Simon Williamson?

That's the one.


I remember him, used to work in the club shop all the time if it's who I'm thinking of. Is that true? I had no idea.


Yes he worked in the club shop, went to prison for offences that I think took place at a school. Wasn't aware he'd killed himself.
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Lobster
post Nov 24 2016, 12:14 PM
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Several more players have come forward about this now.

Feel a bit sorry for Crewe, or at least their supporters and those directors not involved with any of this at the time. They've had a good reputation for years of bringing young players through, and that's now in tatters.
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Mancot Blue
post Nov 24 2016, 11:03 PM
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Newcastle United now implicated. I sense this is going to run and run...
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post Nov 28 2016, 09:11 PM
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Looks like Bennell has tried to take the cowards way out, and take his own life.
Need to keep this scumbag alive, so he can face his accusers and they can get
Some justice.


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post Nov 29 2016, 05:26 PM
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What on earth possessed Eric Bristowe to get involved and call the players a bunch of wimps? How bizarre!
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Zvonimir Boban
post Nov 29 2016, 05:43 PM
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QUOTE (XWWB @ Nov 29 2016, 05:26 PM) *
What on earth possessed Eric Bristowe to get involved and call the players a bunch of wimps? How bizarre!


You can only assume he had many, many guiness.gif and thought the world wanted to know his take on it. I suspect he may well be regretting it now to go with the sore head he is no doubt nursing!
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post Nov 29 2016, 05:52 PM
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The sad fact is that Bristow's inane crap is not the worst thing I've read on Twitter regarding this subject. There is some woman basically trolling saying that the footballers are chasing compensation and want five mins of fame. However, if you look at her Twitter page it appears that her husband has been convicted of being a dirty scummy paedophile and thinks he is innocent. Shocking stuff!


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post Nov 29 2016, 06:03 PM
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QUOTE (XWWB @ Nov 29 2016, 05:26 PM) *
What on earth possessed Eric Bristowe to get involved and call the players a bunch of wimps? How bizarre!

Bristowe has since been sacked by SKY for very inappropriate comments.


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post Nov 29 2016, 06:20 PM
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QUOTE (Mancot Blue @ Nov 24 2016, 11:03 PM) *
Newcastle United now implicated. I sense this is going to run and run...

Let's hope so.

This could be far, more wider reaching than any other allegations in the recent past. Only through a thorough and open investigation and inquiry can measures be put in place to further protect young children placed by parents under the trust of very influential adults.


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Mustafa Sandal
post Nov 29 2016, 06:45 PM
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QUOTE (Neil Fishers Biggest Fan @ Nov 29 2016, 06:03 PM) *
QUOTE (XWWB @ Nov 29 2016, 05:26 PM) *
What on earth possessed Eric Bristowe to get involved and call the players a bunch of wimps? How bizarre!

Bristowe has since been sacked by SKY for very inappropriate comments.



Not siding either way on this but you do have to wonder if the time and place plays a big part in "peoples disgust" at what was said by the Crafty Cockney.

If we were a group of lads down the pub and this came up in conversation I feel pretty sure to a man we would ask "now you are a bit older and bigger why not go round there and knock him out?

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post Nov 29 2016, 07:22 PM
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QUOTE (Mustafa Sandal @ Nov 29 2016, 06:45 PM) *
QUOTE (Neil Fishers Biggest Fan @ Nov 29 2016, 06:03 PM) *
QUOTE (XWWB @ Nov 29 2016, 05:26 PM) *
What on earth possessed Eric Bristowe to get involved and call the players a bunch of wimps? How bizarre!

Bristowe has since been sacked by SKY for very inappropriate comments.



Not siding either way on this but you do have to wonder if the time and place plays a big part in "peoples disgust" at what was said by the Crafty Cockney.

If we were a group of lads down the pub and this came up in conversation I feel pretty sure to a man we would ask "now you are a bit older and bigger why not go round there and knock him out?


and how would that protect kids now from being abused by those other than the one you knocked out? Would make you as the abused feel better in the short term but wouldn't address a potential problem.


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post Nov 30 2016, 11:00 PM
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I heard today that North Wales Police are one of the forces, considering several complaints.
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post Nov 30 2016, 11:12 PM
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Let's hope that the forthcoming investigations don't overshadow and taint all of the good work done by the decent and honest coaches throughout the land who enjoy doing their work, a lot as we know on a volunteer basis.



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Lobster
post Dec 2 2016, 12:00 AM
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QUOTE (Mustafa Sandal @ Nov 29 2016, 06:45 PM) *
QUOTE (Neil Fishers Biggest Fan @ Nov 29 2016, 06:03 PM) *
QUOTE (XWWB @ Nov 29 2016, 05:26 PM) *
What on earth possessed Eric Bristowe to get involved and call the players a bunch of wimps? How bizarre!

Bristowe has since been sacked by SKY for very inappropriate comments.



Not siding either way on this but you do have to wonder if the time and place plays a big part in "peoples disgust" at what was said by the Crafty Cockney.

If we were a group of lads down the pub and this came up in conversation I feel pretty sure to a man we would ask "now you are a bit older and bigger why not go round there and knock him out?


I don't think I would, to be honest. I talk some crap after a few pints but as someone who, fortunately, wasn't a victim of child abuse, I don't feel I'm in a position to criticise people who were.

Besides, there's a big difference between what you would say in a chat between friends over a few pints, and what you would put out on Twitter as a fellow sportsman. He doesn't really seem that apologetic either, using the old "you can't say anything these days" line.

There may be loads of players who had almost summoned the courage to come forward about this, but his ignorant comments can only have given them second thoughts and ultimately protected the perpetrator. Sadly, your response could only do the same.
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