reevel and james
Image caption BBC Scotland’s Reevel Alderson talked to James, who wishes to remain anonymous

A 61-year-old man from Glasgow has told the BBC he was sexually abused on a football trip to Manchester United in the late 1960s.

James, who wants to keep his anonymity, believes he was “trafficked” to English football clubs by the Marist Brothers, a Catholic order which ran his school.

He said he was repeatedly abused by the brothers at his primary school.

In a statement, Manchester United said it had found no information relating to the Marist Brothers in its review.

The Old Trafford club looked into historical abuse as part of the English FA’s inquiry, led by barrister Clive Sheldon QC.

It is looking at the way clubs or the FA dealt with concerns over child sex abuse between 1970 and 2005.

However, James said he thought his abuse happened on a trip in 1969, when he was 12 or 13.

Initiation ceremony

He said he was in a group of “elite” young footballers who were selected by his school to take part in a tournament in Manchester.

The boys were taken to Old Trafford and the club’s training ground, where they played matches and toured the stadium, the boot room and directors’ offices.

Image caption The boys were taken on a tour of Manchester United’s ground at Old Trafford

James said he had visions of becoming a Manchester United player like his heroes George Best and Bobby Charlton but he said he was taken from the hostel where the boys were staying and sexually abused.

He said he did not know who abused him but he was taken outside as part of an “initiation ceremony”.

“It was non-consensual sex,” he said.

“Adult and a child.”

James said he did not know if other young footballers were also abused.

“None of us ever spoke about it,” he said.

Football journey

According to James, he was not aware at the time that it was abuse.

It was portrayed as part of the “football journey” of going down to the club and possibly becoming a professional footballer.

He said: “I believe I was forced to do it because of my previous experience. I thought there was no escape, I had to take the action.”

Increased abuse

His previous abuse was at the hands of the Marist Brothers who ran his primary school, the Sacred Heart Primary School in the east end of Glasgow.

James said he was regularly beaten around the lower body by branches with thorns, belts or by hand for not knowing the answers to questions about the Mass.

He told the BBC he would soil himself when he was beaten and his sister would be sent for to take him out of class.

Grooming process

“That then led to an increase in the abuse which began by befriending you, telling you that you weren’t a bad person, you were a good person,” he said.

“All part of the grooming process, then on to sitting on the knee,.

“Then, after the beatings, removing the clothing to make sure there were no marks.

“And then other sexual activity.”

The beatings stopped when James moved to St Mary’s High School, which was also run by the Marist Brothers.

But at St Mary’s a more sinister form of abuse began, he said.

Image caption James said he was sent to the former Fort Augustus Abbey Roman Catholic boarding school

James said he was sent for a “holiday” to Fort Augustus school in the Highlands where BBC Scotland has uncovered evidence that widespread abuse took place.

He was also sent to Pluscarden Abbey school. Both were run by the Benedictine order.

He said he was abused by monks there.

James said he was also abused when his football team were sent to English football clubs.

“I realise now I was trafficked,” he said.

“I didn’t realise that at the time.

“But there is a link between the abuse in the primary school – the Marist Brothers.

“A link to the Marist Brothers sending me to Fort Augustus and Pluscarden to the Benedictines and the Marist Brothers then sending me to the football clubs.”

He said: “My understanding was these clubs were more or less looking at us for potentially signing for the clubs.

“The type of player I was playing football with went on to be professional football players, to be professional football managers and professional coaches at the highest level in the Scottish Football Association.”

Internal investigation

Manchester United said: “We have no knowledge or records of any allegations of this nature.

“However, If we are provided with further details and they allege involvement of anyone connected with the club, we will of course investigate further and involve all appropriate authorities.”

The Marist Brothers no longer run schools in Scotland but they maintain a house in Glasgow.

In a statement the order’s lawyers said it took all allegations against it seriously, and referred them to police and an internal investigation.

It said: “The allegations in question were investigated by the police, and the Scottish Catholic Safeguarding Service confirmed our clients have done all that is possible regarding the allegations made.”

As for James, who said he maintained a strong Catholic faith, he wants his story told so other survivors of abuse will take courage to come forward, to have their abuse acknowledged and an apology issued.

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