This blog had its Clinton and Trump moment ten days ago when I read about Andy Woodward’s disclosure that I stumbled upon at the Guardian last week, passed the story to Mike who posted about it himself as it grew and built up over the past week and a half. Throughout this time I hadn’t watched Woodward’s solo interview on the Victoria Derbyshire BBC Two news magazine show despite reading the articles, and as Woodward, much like Sheldon Kennedy in Canadian Hockey, was disclosing alone, I thought that any progress would be as slow as in the Canadian case(s) and that nothing else would happen before Christmas when the general historical abuse inquiry down in London had stalled. I was happy to be proved as wrong as all the pollsters that said Hillary Clinton would win the US election.
The BBC’s collected summary to the end of Friday 25th November is here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/38090926 . When Paul Stewart’s disclosure was a front page article in the Daily Mirror on the previous day, it was the same day that I carried out my own first updated disclosure since the end of compulsory therapy, with all the memory dredging effects as all of the others. So yesterday, Friday 25th November, was an echo of the way Jimmy Savile’s story exploded when it was reported fully for the second time without suppression, except the fact that the interruption was not eight to nine months, but at least 12-18 months after the last time the offender was jailed and a massive 21 years since the previous Channel 4 documentary on the same subject.
I had to rewind and catch the complete interview up online and then the BBC showed the complete version that wasn’t split by the news and weather, twice more. It is available at BBC’s iPlayer and most likely Youtube for the rest of the world although I was proud to see Sheldon Kennedy himself retweeting the same interview and just for once, in an era where the BBC makes itself an easy target for criticism, presenting the type of news journalism that justifies the licence fee across television, radio and online. Not having seen Woodward’s solo interview nor any overnight print coverage into Friday 25th November, made this group interview even more emotionally powerful to watch and hear in its complete form.
Then halfway through the day from the initial reaction, the offical historical CSA enquiry announced that it could expand its remit to include sport and not just soccer/football once the main bulk of active police investigations had finished, the IPCC released a report critical of the handling of some non-sporting historical CSA cases ( http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-38086476 ) the NSPCC dedicated football hotline ( 0800 023 2642 ) saw its 50 individual callers double to over 100, and as a result of other former players disclosing and causing internal inquiries at Manchester City, Stoke City and Newcastle United alongside Woodward’s and Steve Walters’ Crewe Alexandria club, that meant four police forces investigating historical CSA charges against youth team players (Hampshire, Cheshire, Northumbria and London’s Metropolitan police – with the natural hope that resources would be shared). The fact that the FA threw open its doors and wanted to meet anyone affected, as opposed to slamming them in victims’ faces in 1997 when Channel 4 tried to cover the issue, marked another step in the right direction. The total lack of trolling and judgement from almost anyone interviewed in the follow-up pieces on the BBC and Sky News and then Channel 4 news in the evening, made yesterday a Savile-scale watershed and as commented by Jason Dunford, had the potential “To Make Jimmy Savile look like a choirboy compared to [offenders operating in football]”.
So keep checking all your usual news sites since we now expect the story to run at least until Christmas will force a natural break to enquiries. The various forces, all affected clubs and the Football Association will all have to work together with the NSPCC to deliver evidence and justice on the one hand, and therapeutic services to all affected and their families on the other.