Bolton Wanderers manager Phil Parkinson has praised the bravery of former professional footballers who have revealed they were victims of child sex abuse in the north-west.
Football has been rocked this week by the developing scandal surrounding convicted paedophile Barry Bennell who was a coach at Crewe Alexandra in the 1980s and also had a close association with Manchester City.
Former Bury defender Andy Woodward, 43, came forward to speak of repeated child sexual abuse by Bennell when he was a youth player at Crewe.
Ex-Manchester City striker David White, 49, also claimed he was abused by Bennell whilst playing for a junior team in Manchester.
Parkinson – who had a four-year spell at Bury just before Woodward – told MM: “You’ve got to admire their bravery for coming forward.
“I’m sure the FA will look into it and make sure that any coaches who are working with youth players have passed the right checks so they’re fit to work with young players.”
Parkinson started playing at Southampton before ending his career with 11 years at Reading. He says he was not aware of any abuse in his own playing days but hopes this week’s revelations will be a reminder of what football needs to do to clean up its reputation.
“If you think of the number of players who have gone through youth systems, it such a very tiny percentage of people who have come out or may continually come out.
“From my own personal point of view in football I never came across anything like that.
“There probably are more checks now than there was 20 years ago but I think this might give everybody a jolt again to be a bit more thorough.
“I respect the people who have come forward and we’ve got to use it to make sure that it doesn’t happen again.”
Wanderers, sitting third, are firmly in the hunt for automatic promotion back to the Championship after seven league wins from their last eight matches ahead of their League One trip to Northampton Town this weekend.
And they’re not the only team on the M61 looking in good shape for promotion, with Chorley Town currently in second place in the National League North behind pacesetters AFC Fylde.
Parkinson – who was born in Chorley – is keeping connections to the town alive by sending players up the motorway to gain experience.
“I’ve got a young lad, Alex Samizadeh, who’s gone on loan there and scored two goals,” he said.
“So I obviously keep an eye on their results and it’s always good to see the local teams do well.
“It’s a tough league that one because Fylde are flying high at the top and Darlington are in there as well. But it’s a good test for any of our players who go to that level.”
Image courtesy of BWFC via YouTube, with thanks.