This Evil Pervert Wrecked My Dream of Playing For Celtic

This Evil Pervert Wrecked My Dream of Playing For Celtic


4 September 2006


ALAN Brazil tells how abuse at the hands of Jim Torbett destroyed his hopes of playing for his boyhood heroes and how he helped jail his attacker 30 years later
4 Jun 2007 by Alan Brazil (Author), Mike Parry (Author)

I WAS leaving York races when I spotted him. His big white pasty face was burnt on my soul. I have only hated one person in my life, and it is him.
This was an opportunity I was not going to miss.
I pushed through the crowd of race-goers making their way to the exit-gates shouting: "B*****d, you b*****d, I'm going to have you." I was unintentionally baring my teeth.

My mates tried to hold me back. "Let go," I screamed, shaking them off.

My quarry spotted me and was away. But he was a bloated, overweight creature and I was a former professional footballer. I'd get him.
I pushed through with an urgency that should have come from a man who was fleeing, not one in pursuit.
But there were too many people and my quarry was soon putting distance between us.
I concentrated on what I could see of his white mac. He had always worn a white mac.
After a few minutes, I realised he was gone. I was panting with the physical effort and the emotional turmoil into which I had been thrust.
What was he doing here? Surely he wasn't mad enough to be stalking me?
He knew I had vowed to kill him. And I swear I still would to this day.

The loathsome individual who had triggered my explosive behaviour was a man called James Torbett.

I cast my mind back 30 years to the incident that blotted my life.
When I was 13, Torbett sexually assaulted me.
It scarred me for decades and may have prevented me from playing for the team I loved, Celtic.
As a kid, my parents had trusted this man to look after me.
He was the boss of Celtic Boys' Club - a highly respected figure at Celtic Park, a millionaire businessman in the Scottish community, a so-called pillar of the establishment.
That is probably why Torbett got away with his despicable acts for so long.
Many years later, I nailed him in a courtroom when his misdeeds came to light.
That was some form of retribution but I knew I could never expunge my hatred for him until the day he was no longer walking the Earth.
While he is alive, the shadow that has blighted my life will still be there.
When I passed the trials to be admitted to Celtic Boys' Club, it was a dream come true.
But, from the first moment I met Torbett, I knew there was something funny about him.
Torbett was the general manager of the club but he didn't look like he had a footballing past, and I often wondered why he was involved.
He tried to be this fatherly figure but I didn't like it.
I didn't like the fact he was always taking a gang of us off for hamburgers after training or after a game and he was always giving lifts to the lads.
He would often invite a group of us to his home too.
That was the thing I really didn't like. He would give us ice cream and biscuits. He even had boxes of toys, which I thought were meant for kids much younger than us.
On one particular occasion, we were all at his place because there was a big European youth tournament coming up and he said he wanted to talk to us about tactics.
The man who was supposed to be the head of Celtic Boys' Club would be putting his hands all over the lads.


He would be kissing them and giving them little pecks.
Not for the first time, I wondered what was going on.
What went through my mind was that the lads he was paying all the attention to must have been related to him.
He must be their uncle or something.
Why else would he be doing that?
HE found me sitting on the sofa on my own in the lounge. I was bored and wanted to go home when Torbett sat down next to me.
He sat down on the sofa close to me, much closer than I was comfortable with.
Then, without any warning, he put his hand between my legs.
I froze. I remember his horrible swollen face next to mine. He was smiling. He thought this was fun.
I had never felt like this before. I was frightened and very confused.
The only relationship I had ever had with a man up to that point was the father and son relationship with my dad.
I felt threatened. I leapt off the couch and headed for the bathroom because it had a lock on the inside. I just wanted to get away from him.
I slammed the door shut. I had my back to the door and was trying to figure out how far the window was from the ground because if he tried to get in, I was planning to jump.
My heart was thumping like mad.
I started to think carefully to make sure I had not imagined what had happened.
I grabbed my coat and bag and ran out of the flat and down the stairs in case he was following.
I didn't ease up until I got to the bus stop and then I went home.
I didn't know what I was going to say to my parents. I worried that they might be able to tell that something had happened. I wasn't going to tell them. I couldn't. I got in and went straight to my bedroom.

I shouted out that I'd got hit by a ball and I was going to lie down. What had happened to me was not the sort of thing you spoke to your mum and dad about.
Over the next couple of days, I learned from coaches at the club that I had lost my place in the squad for the European youth tournament. It's obvious why I was dropped.
Over the next few weeks, I did not go to the club as often as I had been used to.
Sometimes, I would put my blazer on and pretend I was on my way, then stop behind the school instead and play football there.

When I did go, I stayed out of Torbett's way. He did hardly any coaching. He just floated around. It was easy to avoid him.

It never once occurred to me that other boys might be in danger.

On the odd occasions when I found him in the vicinity, I always avoided eye contact.
When I think back now, I'm astonished at how child molesters like Torbett can so brazenly pursue their evil ways.
Amazingly, he would ring my house and try to get me to come to extra training sessions. He even put to me repeated invitations to go out for hamburgers again, and ice cream.
But ice cream was one thing I would never eat again. When he assaulted me, it was immediately after he had dished out bowls of ice cream with raspberry topping. When I see that now, I want to throw up.
I always said I had too much homework.

My parents started to realise that something was wrong but I assume they thought it was a football-related matter. I did take my game very seriously after all.

Presumably, Torbett knew that I would never tell anybody. I realise now, of course, that that is the classic behaviour of a paedophile.

First, they wheedle their way into a position of authority in places where there are plenty of children.
Second, they win the trust of the youngsters and then the parents. And they bank on the fact that children are almost always too frightened and confused to spill the beans - which makes these sorts of crimes doubly disgusting.
Torbett was a successful businessman who ran a chain of shops that supplied cups and medals to football clubs. He was a friend of members of the board at Parkhead.
He must have known that if a little boy alleged he had been touched up, nobody would want to believe it.
I will forever wonder whether that was why I was more or less thrown out of Celtic when I was the star player in the boys' club.
I scored 62 goals in my final season with Celtic Boys - a club record I held for many years. Surely, my dream of becoming an apprentice at Celtic would come true? But it didn't.
Lots of the other lads had what was called an "S" form, an indication that they would be taken on by the club. But I soon realised that I was not going to get such an offer.
My disappointment was eased by the fact that by then, I had been for trials at a number of the bigger clubs in England. I had visited Ipswich three times. I really liked Ipswich and was happy to go there. I have never regretted that.
But I wish I could go back in time, eradicate Torbett and see where I would have gone without his odious interference in my life.

In the 1981-82 season, when I was a star in England, I returned to Celtic Park to play a testimonial match.

A club director called Mr Farrell singled me out after a game and said: "How did we ever miss you?"

I was tempted to say something, but I was at the peak of my career, so I bit my lip. "I'll always be a Celtic man in my heart," I told him, which was every word the truth.