Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Bob Higgins trial: Massages 'inspired by Don Revie doc'

Bob Higgins
Image caption Bob Higgins denies 51 counts of indecent assault between 1971 and 1996

A football coach accused of molesting trainees told a court he was inspired to give soap water massages after watching a show about ex-England manager Don Revie.

Bob Higgins is accused of sexually touching 24 boys, mostly Southampton and Peterborough United youth players, between 1971 and 1996.

He told jurors he never deliberately touched boys' genitals during massages.

Mr Higgins denies 51 counts of indecent assault.

Bournemouth Crown Court heard the 66-year-old was appointed Southampton's youth development officer by Lawrie McMenemy in 1975.

Giving evidence, Mr Higgins said he introduced new methods to the club around nutrition and fitness, including soap water massages "to get lactic acid out of their muscles".

He said this came after he watched a television programme he remembers being called A Day in the Life of Don, about then-Leeds United manager Mr Revie. The court was played a clip of the programme.

Image caption Don Revie managed Leeds and England

Complainants have previously told the court they were touched inappropriately by Mr Higgins during naked massages.

But he said the massages were designed to help avoid muscular injuries and he had not "knowingly or deliberately" touched the boys' genitals.

He said the players were not told to take off their shorts but "some did, some didn't".

Image copyright Solent News & Photo Agency
Image caption Bob Higgins is accused of abusing youth players at Southampton and Peterborough United

Asked what the atmosphere was like during the massages, he said it was "always jovial" and there was "lots of banter".

He added he may have touched the boys' genitals during massages but this was not done deliberately.

He said other coaches also gave the players massages.

Mr Higgins told the court he was aware that trainees took part in "hairy bum competitions" but they were always organised by the players.

"It was their night, their relaxation," he said. "It was always done as fun."

The trial continues.

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