Friday, February 19, 2010

Celtic shame exposed

Well done to The Sun for bringing the following back into the public domain.


SICK yobs tricked an American TV footy show into airing a vile jibe about the Celtic child abuse scandal.

The morons sent a text message to the interactive show on the Fox Soccer Channel, posing as the beast behind the attacks on Hoops starlets in the 1970s.

The taunt, which ran across the bottom of the screen said "I Love Celtic U-15s! Jim Torbett". Monster Torbett was caged for a string of attacks on teenage players.

Last night one outraged Celtic fan said: "You need to wonder what kind of person thinks jokes about child abuse are funny.

"It's bad enough people in this country joke about this, but for it to be broadcast across the US is even more embarrassing."

The supporter added: "There's no way the people on the show would have spotted the connection, but whoever did this obviously thought they were being clever. It's sick."

Last night Fox bosses declined to discuss the stunt.

Parkhead officials also refused to comment.

Torbett was jailed for 2½ years in 1998 after he was convicted of abusing several lads who played for Celtic Boys Club up to three decades earlier.

His crimes had became public in 1996 when former Scotland striker Alan Brazil revealed he was molested at the age of 13 at the beast's home in Sighthill, Glasgow.

And we told in December 2008 how sickos had used a mobile phone text service in a bid to smear Celtic legend Jock Stein over the Torbett scandal.

The twisted yobs behind the unfounded 'Big Jock Knew' claims say the former manager failed to report the fiend to police over the assaults.

And punters at the time who texted 118 118 to ask the question 'What did big Jock know?' got the reply: 'It pertains to a matter that Stein knew but didn't report to the authorities'.


Scotland on Sunday 18/08/1996

Celtic Boys' Club appealed to the dreams of a generation of football hopefuls, but they have only made the tabloids in a seamy tale of manipulation and abuse, report AUDREY GILLAN and RON McKAY

IT ALL begins in a shrine, the walls adorned with artefacts and relics, all carefully arranged and devoutly displayed, past which the faithful shuffled and nourished their own dreams of immortality.

Here, paradise seemed tangible, just a short trip away. But the changing faces who gaped in awe at this display of devotion were
gullible young boys who worshipped a team. They stared at the display of shirts and photographs, testimonials and autographs and
believed the man who told them that they could look down from the window, across the city to the football ground in the East End and
take all that lay before them.

Jim Torbett was 20 when he set up Celtic Boys' Club in 1966, seeking permission from the then manager Jock Stein to use the team's
name. He was only a few years older than the lads who trooped through his living room. Boys who left believing, as he did, in dreams,
certain that they were special, marked out for fame. Now 30 years on, those dreams have become nightmares for some, grown men
marked forever by the shy but enthusiastic man who took them to the heights and then the depths.

John McCluskey is, in the unimpeachable judgment of former Celtic star Charlie Nicholas, the best young player he ever saw. Last
week, McCluskey -who has fought drink, addiction and his own demons - was sitting in an upmarket Glasgow hotel, sipping cappuccino
and waiting to make a statement to police that Torbett had sexually assaulted him. He had been so badly affected by the Dunblane
massacre, he said, that he felt he had to make a stand.

Just two days before, the Daily Record had spread across five pages allegations that the boys' club founder had abused him. His
allegation was supported by Ally Brazil, the former Ipswich and Spurs striker, another graduate of the Celtic academy, who claimed that
Torbett kissed and fondled him when he was only 14. Within hours of the story hitting the streets, and the newspaper setting up its
abuse hotline, dozens of calls had come in and another man - Frank Cairney, the man who had been brought in by Jock Stein to get rid
of the smears and innuendoes which for years had hung around the boys' club - was also being named as an abuser.

Whispers that something was not quite right with Celtic Boys' Club had been around since its inception. Some boys passed through the
ranks unscathed, ducking slaps on the bum and over-enthusiastic spongings when they lay injured on the pitch. But others are alleged
to have suffered at the hands of a man who abused his position in pursuit of paedophile perversions. It seemed some of the weaker
boys, those with less skill, less certain of a place on the first team, those with less parental guidance, became easy prey. They would be
enticed back to Torbett's house with promises of meals and ice cream and sometimes less innocent pursuits would follow.

When Fergus McCann finally arrived in the halo of television lights at Parkhead in 1994 he knew that he faced a formidable task:
rebuilding a stadium, a team and the belief of a support which had seen years of failed promises and dismal performance. What he did
not expect -by way of an anonymous letter sent to him almost as soon as he was through the door - was a disturbing report of years of
abuse at the boys' club. Officially, the club was entirely separate from Celtic but McCann appreciated that it was inextricably bound to
Parkhead in the minds of the public, and indeed in the hearts of some of the players and former players - like Peter Grant, Paul McStay
and Tommy Burns - who had graduated from it to the big time of professional football.

McCann quickly went about trying to establish the truth, or not, of the accusations. He called in Jim Torbett and asked him to meet
Celtic's lawyers and confirm or deny, in an affidavit which could be passed to the police, the accusations. Torbett repeatedly refused.
He asked Ally Brazil and John McCluskey to make their allegations formal. Brazil refused at that stage. McCluskey agreed, but only if
his statement was not passed to the police.

Ironically, McCann was playing out, more than three years on, a sad little tableau which had occurred at Parkhead under the old
regime, ruled over by the Kelly and White families. In 1991 the boys' club had been to Kearney, New Jersey - an annual tour to the Irish
part of the state with players staying at the homes of Catholic families -and one boy, no longer at Celtic but now a professional player in
Scotland, had alleged to his hosts and to his own family that he had been assaulted by the team's general manager, Frank Cairney.
The boy's father took him to Celtic Park to have it out with Liam Brady who was then only months in the job as team manager. The
club's chief scout John Kelman was also present.

It was Brady's first serious and most affecting problem in a troubled time at Parkhead which did not last long. He listened to the boy,
believed him, and insisted to the board that Cairney had to be removed, not only from the boys' club but from any association with the
main football club. So, overnight, the man who was used to having his run of the place and the ear of the management, was cast out.
It was agreed, by Brady, the boy and his parents and the then Celtic board, that the police would not be informed. The young player
was assured that the alleged incident would have no effect on his future career at the club. However, signed statements were taken by
Celtic's lawyers from the four adults who had been on the New Jersey trip. All were sworn to silence.Cairney was now away from the football club and its nursery - business commitments was the given reason - but Jim Torbett was backplaying a major role, first as a fund-raiser then back with the boys' club. Torbett had maintained his connections with Celtic. Pre-
McCann board member Kevin Kelly, still honorary president of the boys' club, is a fellow director of Torbett's company The Trophy
Centre, and current board member Jack McGinn is an employee.

It is not clear why a man widely regarded as a child abuser was allowed back into a position of responsibility at the boys' club. Torbett
had been kicked out in 1976 after being confronted by the committee and, according to Frank Cairney's account of the meeting, had
broken down in tears and confessed. He was then summoned to a meeting with Jock Stein, at the end of which the big man physically
kicked him out of the door. And just to ensure that the boys' club stayed clean the legendary Celtic manager brought in another man,
Hugh Birt, as chairman of its committee.

Birt claims he was concerned about the behaviour of both Cairney and Torbett - who wheedled his way back in after Stein's death - and
raised the matter with the club. Before he knew it Birt was asked to resign. When he stood his ground and refused, he says, Celtic
withdrew his ticket to the directors' box and he had no option but to get out.

In spite of all these troubles, the boys' club, from humble beginnings in a hall in Maryhill, had become a great success and was now
seen as a crucial feeder of players for the senior club. It used Celtic's training ground at Barrowfield for coaching and matches and
became one of the country's most successful nurseries: its more famous graduates include current manager Tommy Burns, George
McCluskey, Roy Aitken, Charlie Nicholas, Paul McStay, and of the present side Peter Grant and Simon Donnelly.

But although the boys' club was hugely successful, rumours still continued to surround it. Former players began to talk to the press,
although none would go on record or make a formal complaint to the police. The New Jersey incident in 1991 was successfully
managed by the club and it seemed that nothing tangible would ever be proved. And then, in 1994, the new regime swept into Celtic
Park and the rumours flared up again. This time, the chairman was determined that nothing should be kicked under the carpet.

As McCann's investigation got under way, a lone Celtic fanatic Gerry McSherry, who resented the arrival of the new board, appeared
on a radio programme to question the transfer of a young player. Within days he had received a number of calls suggesting untoward
behaviour in the boys club. After months of investigation, McSherry began touting what he called the Paedo Files round various
newspapers and television companies and claims now to be under contract to the Record.

Last week, as the story developed from allegations against Torbett - who was suspended from the boys' club six days ago - to claims
that Cairney fondled boys as they sat in the front seat of his car, many men with long associations with the club began to grow uneasy.
Former players backed Big Frank whom they knew as a "father figure" and Burns rushed out to Cairney's terraced home in Viewpark,
Lanarkshire, after receiving a call from the man he considers a close friend. Leaving his house the manager was reported to have said:
"He [Cairney] has the whole of my backing and that of Celtic Football Club to a man."

The following morning Burns must have been wishing he had bitten his tongue. Incandescent at his manager's assumption that the club
would back Cairney, McCann issued a statement. "While I sympathise with Tommy Burns' personal position as a friend of Mr Cairney,
the club cannot condone or defend or take sides in a matter which involves a criminal complaint," he said.

Burns himself claimed that he had been misquoted and what he had in fact said was: "He has my backing and I'm sure he will have the
backing of several members of the first team who played for Frank at under-16 level."

Meanwhile, the allegations against Torbett went unchallenged. After hiding out at the east end home of William and Andrew Gilbert -
two young men who had played for the boys' club - he is said to have left the country. Yesterday, their mother Susan said that Torbett
was a close family friend - they sometimes travelled abroad with him and the boys' club - and that the allegations made against him
were rubbish.

DCI John Boyd at London Road police station, who has four officers investigating the allegations, said that his team had been taking
calls from a number of people who had not gone through the Daily Record. He added that the inquiry was at an early stage and that no
arrests were imminent.

At Celtic Park, the management is trying to keep its head down and stop the scandal interfering with play. Footballers like Peter Grant
and Tosh McKinlay - who came through the boys' club route - have nothing to say on the record. And the boy who made the complaint
against Cairney? He's playing his cards close to his chest. The chants from the terraces and jibes from his opponents would no doubt
be too much to take.


Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland); 11/7/1998; McILWRAITH, GORDON
JOCK Stein and the Celtic board covered up allegations made against Boys' Club founder Jim Torbett,

Mr Birt said: "There was a lot of hearsay and it wasn't until Jim came back that I got involved because things started up again."

He told how he took the allegations against Torbett to the Celtic board and Stein and even told the then vice-chairman, Kevin Kelly, about them at a meeting in his car.
He said: "Although there were people who spoke to me I couldn't go to the police without actual proof of the allegations. When I joined as chairman, I was told by Jock Stein to keep the name of Celtic Football Club clean at all times."
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