Andy Woodward demands full investigation at Crewe about convicted paedophile Barry Bennell's time at the club

Crewe's director of football, Dario Gradi said the club would be carrying out an internal investigation

BY Newstalk 16:44 Saturday 26 November 2016, 16:44 26 Nov 2016

Former footballer had originally told his story in The Guardian

There is increasing pressure on Crewe Alexandra to give more information about the time convicted paedophile Barry Bennell spent at the club, after several ex-footballers said they were abused by him as children.

One of them, Andy Woodward, told Sky News: "That club need a full investigation for what went on all those years at Crewe Alexandra."

Mr Woodward said he was "not surprised" that several police forces had begun to look into allegations of abuse.

Asked whether there may have been a "network" of paedophiles, Mr Woodward replied: "Of course."

Telling his personal story, Mr Woodward said youth team coach Bennell was "the master of grooming".

"He took control straight away and that control then continued through," he said.

The effects had been devastating: "As a child, you're breaking up inside. You cry when you're on your own," Mr Woodward added.

"You feel lost, you feel guilt, you feel 'is it my fault?'.

"But you just seem to have this way of carrying on through life and you just get on with it.

"It's only later on in life now after doing all the work that I've done with therapy that it affects everybody's lives as adults, everybody."

He said no-one could stand what had happened. "There's not a person out there that has suffered the abuse like I have that isn't suffering now from it and the after-effects."

It was isolating, too: "It's like being locked in.

"It's locked in and you are not going to speak. You cannot possibly speak out - and you feel shame, you feel guilty."

Asked whether people in authority were aware of what was happening, Mr Woodward said: "I can't comment on who that was at the club - I can't comment on any person that was doing that, because I don't know.

"It's to do with the authorities, it's to do with the investigation.

"But if they do find that there were individuals in the club that were doing that then obviously they need to take action, don't they?"

Certain developments had not impressed him, though. Mr Woodward said there had been comments from senior figures at the club "about them doing their internal investigation and also around, it was a long, long time ago.

"It might well have been a long time ago but we're all suffering and people have died because of this.

"I was shocked and disgusted with some of the comments that have been made."

Mr Woodward said he hoped that by speaking out himself, other people would be encouraged to come forward.

He said: "I think now, hopefully, I've given a lot of people belief that you can. The amount of people who've come forward … it's just unbelievable.

"I'm getting text after text after text off people who are now going to the police that aren't even involved in football.

"Women, men. I had one off a woman this morning who actually texted me and said she was sat in a dark room, watching telly and writing her suicide note and while she's writing her suicide note, Victoria Derbyshire was on and I was on and she said: 'you stopped me killing myself.'

"And that is just unbelievable. And I just encourage people ... keep coming, keep coming out."
A string of former footballers have come forward since Mr Woodward became the first to speak out last week about abuse he suffered at the hands of Bennell.

Bennell, who worked for Crewe, Manchester City, Stoke and several junior teams in north-west England and the Midlands, sexually abused young boys across three decades from the 1970s onwards.

Bennell was given a four-year sentence for raping a British boy on a football tour of Florida in 1994 and then a nine-year sentence for 23 offences against six boys in England in 1998.

He was jailed for a third time in 2015 when he pleaded guilty to abusing a boy at a football camp in Macclesfield in 1980.

Crewe's director of football, Dario Gradi said the club would be carrying out an internal investigation. Manchester City said it was also reviewing Bennell's links with the club.

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