Barry Bennell: the predatory Pied Piper who made stars and shattered lives squib

The former Manchester City and Crewe coach exploited his status to abuse potentially hundreds of boys, employing gifts, a sheep’s head and haunted houses to subject his victims to unspeakable horrors

Andy Woodward, one of the boys lost and brutalised during Barry Bennell’s decades of preying on young footballers, can remember one story that probably helps to explain why the detectives investigating the man described as a “child molester on an industrial scale” believe the true number of victims will be incalculable.

Bennell had taken a group of Crewe Alexandra players to Florida in the summer of 1990 to help with a series of junior coaching courses. He had hired jet-skis and was out in the sea at Pensacola beach, with an 11-year-old on the back, when he fell into the water. He was climbing back on board when Craig Hignett, the first-team striker, came past on his own jet-ski and turned to spray him. Except Hignett also lost control of his machine.

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