Former footballer claims he was humiliated by Stoke keeper

Former footballer claims he was humiliated by Stoke keeper

A FORMER Stoke City apprentice footballer, George Blackstock, is claiming damages against the Staffordshire club and former Potters goalkeeper Peter Fox.

Blackstock alleges that on two separate occasions, he was held down by other senior players to allow Mr Fox to assault him with a goalkeeper's glove covered in Deep Heat, a muscular ointment.

Both the club and Mr Fox deny the claims.

Preston Crown Court heard that Blackstock, 44, left Belfast at the age of 16 to pursue his dream of becoming a professional footballer at Stoke City.

But, Blackstock claims, he was mentally scarred by his experiences, and was "humiliated" by Fox during his apprenticeship with the Potters in the 1980s.

He alleged that the glove was inserted for a number of seconds "inside him" while he was held down by three other first team players. His underpants had been removed.

Blackstock’s barrister Aswini Weereratne QC told the court that during the second occasion, "a large hot metal teapot was applied to his buttocks by an unidentified first team player".

He added: "Those assaults have had a profound effect on him psychologically and his ability to play professional football."

The Preston court heard from a witness that Fox, now 56, allegedly boasted during a radio interview of putting Deep Heat in the "sensitive places" of young footballers who got "too big for their boots”.

John Washington, a witness for Blackstock, told the court he remembered having listened to the interview on BBC Radio Stoke some time between 1986 and 1988, recounting some of the practices in changing rooms and training grounds, and was "shocked" at the comment about Deep Heat.

Mr Washington 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.'"

He said that following the revelation, the reporter "moved on quick and changed the subject on to tactics".

Peter Fox denies Blackstock’s claims. He admitted that there had been "ribbing of apprentices" and remarks about a teammate's genitalia, but he had "not seen anything that has pricked [his] conscience".

Stoke City also deny George Blackstock’s claims.

Mr Blackstock spent just over two years at the club before returning home to Belfast after former England captain and Stoke manager Mick Mills released him because at 5' 4'' he was considered too small.