Second city man comes forward over coach ‘abuse’

Jamie Webb, who lived in Portsmouth, and coach Bob Higgins at Southampton in 1984
Jamie Webb, who lived in Portsmouth, and coach Bob Higgins at Southampton in 1984
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A FORMER youth player has urged others to come forward as a police investigation into alleged abuse continues.

Jamie Webb, who lived in Portsmouth but joined Southampton’s youth team aged 13, said coach Bob Higgins tried to touch his groin in the 1980s.

Jamie Webb from Portsmouth, who was coached by Bob Higgins at Southampton
, pictured in September this year

Jamie Webb from Portsmouth, who was coached by Bob Higgins at Southampton , pictured in September this year

He was speaking as he wants others to come forward.

Jamie told The News that Higgins subjected him to soap water massage, was involved in hairy bum competitions and that the coach tried to touch him at his home.

‘He attempted to put his hand down my shorts – I blocked him thank god,’ Jamie said.

‘I now understand and recognise that he was preying to see (if I was) vulnerable.

Former Southampton FC football coach Bob Higgins

Former Southampton FC football coach Bob Higgins

‘I had a strong relationship with my dad and parents, and though I thought the world of Bob Higgins as a coach and mentor, there was no way I was prepared to let him do that to me.’

He added: ‘At the time I thought “I’m not comfortable with that”. I now realise what he was trying to do.’

Jamie is now urging anyone who may have been subjected to the same thing to come forward.

The 47-year-old, who lived in Portsmouth, which along with the wider area was a source of talent for Southampton at the time, added: ‘It’s just beyond belief.’

Jamie was trained by Higgins between 1983 and 1986 at Southampton.

He then became an apprentice and after two years was given a professional contract but quit the club in 1989.

In part he believes the effect of what happened to him with Higgins contributed to him leaving Southampton.

‘I never got my chance to play in front of full crowd,’ he said.

Both Jamie and Lee Smith, 45, have waived their anonymity to speak out,

Lee, a Portsmouth builder, said he was groomed by Higgins, who he says gave him naked soap water massages.

The English Football League is planning to pass a letter about the Bob Higgins Soccer Academy written to clubs in 1989 to Operation Hydrant, the ongoing police investigation into child abuse in football.

In the letter, the then Football League told clubs that if they were considering working with the Bob Higgins Soccer Academy they should ‘give this office the opportunity of appraising them of the situation before taking steps in this direction’.

Former Southampton youth coach Higgins left the club in the same year the letter was written.

An EFL statement yesterday said: ‘The EFL is fully committed to providing whatever assistance is requested.’

Higgins, 63, has previously denied allegations, and was cleared of six counts of indecent assault at a trial on the direction of a judge in 1992.