Every Saturday night, Roper would take Nova boys to the Seafood restaurant in St Annes. Although Roper had a house in Stockport, he also had a place close to Blackpool's Bloomfield Road stadium.
During the 1980s, he organised team trips for Nova to the USA and New Zealand. Former Leeds and Wigan player Kevin Sharp was one of the boys on the trips to New Zealand. He said he was not abused but his father, Frank, recalls how parents were wary.
'I could write a book,' Sharp Snr explained. 'I was very concerned. I was the acting manager of Poulton FC. I was on the touchline and this man (Roper), Jack Chapman and Bill Hurst came up to me at Cottam Hall. They said they were Blackpool scouts and a select team from the Fylde Coast was going to tour New Zealand.
'My first question was how much would it cost? They said nothing. I was suspicious. I had never encountered this kind of generosity. During later meetings, it emerged that it was going to cost £26,000. The man was funding it all himself.
'What's the reason for it? I wanted answers. My boy Kevin was 12, others were two or three years older. As parents, we all had concerns but it was billed as the opportunity of a lifetime.
'Blackpool validated it. Sam Ellis was the manager and his son was on the tour. We had a meeting at the Tangerine club. Ellis and his wife Helen and parents of older boys were there.
'Older boys from Manchester were also going (to New Zealand). People at Blackpool were saying Roper is a great fella. I was assured that it was a case of Frank wanting to sign players into Blackpool and then he'd take a cut.
'I still felt uncomfortable. We sat in that meeting wondering why he was paying £26,000? My worry was more about drugs. I told Kevin not to bring anything through customs. We knew something was up but had no evidence.'
Sharp also recalled how Roper came to blows with another coach on a school playing field.
'It was surreal,' he said. 'We were at a school in Kirkham (near Blackpool). This other guy approached Kevin and a team-mate and Roper came storming over telling him to keep away from his boys and there was a physical argument.'
The trips to New Zealand would include a stopover in Thailand, where Roper would gather sportswear to sell in his shops when he returned to Blackpool.
Speaking to Sportsmail at his home in Preston, Ellis said: 'Let me tell you this now. I let my son go on trips to New Zealand in 1986 and 1987. That's how much knowledge I had about him (Roper).
'You talk to people, you ask kids and parents of kids who had been on trips before. You want to clear it for the club as well, because to a certain extent he was representing Blackpool FC.
'Do you think I'd have sent my lad if I thought it was odd? The reason he ploughed in the money, as far as I knew, was that he took great big skips where he would get sportsgear and sell it back here.
'The kids stayed with families in New Zealand. You question your kids when they come back. Tim never, ever brought up a thing about rumours or other lads.
'Of course I am aware that as manager, it set an example that my boy went. I see that. I never had a problem with sending Tim on that trip. I never had a complaint from a parent, a boy or my staff.
'The only time rumours started was when Frank disappeared (a few years later). I heard rumours. We still had no complaints.'
Tragically, Tim Ellis died in 2001 when he was struck by a lorry on a motorway underpass near Blackpool. The coroner ruled it to be an accident and his parents insisted he never mentioned any abuse.
'He would have told us,' said his father.
Roper's influence in the Blackpool area began to wane following a trip to Thailand in 1988.
Frank Sharp explained: 'Kevin came home one day and said, 'The man wants to take us to Thailand'. This was not a football trip. I told Kevin he wasn't to go and made sure his school backed that up.
'Following the trip, Nova pretty much disbanded. Parents were only told something happened on the trip. The man (Roper) fled and wasn't seen again.'
One of the boys on the trip told Sportsmail: 'We were in the Asia Hotel in Bangkok. He left us there for a few days as he had business to sort.
'We then headed up to the sister hotel in Pattaya, where he returned with a young Thai boy in tow. He molested him under the bed sheets. I could see the movements. We were in the room and saw him doing this to the Thai boy. He tried it on with me but I pushed him off and said, 'F*** off'.
'On plane journeys he'd have the blanket over us and he tried to mess around with me.
'At restaurants, the hand might go under the table. After that trip, there was another trip to New Zealand but I told my mum and dad I didn't want to go. The other boys couldn't understand why.'
A new victim of football’s paedophile scandal today speaks out about his ordeal at the hands of predatory scout Frank Roper – and offers the first evidence a sex ring in the game DID exist.
Jamie Forrester says vile Roper raped an 11-year-old Thai boy in front of him and other aspiring players during a tour of the Far East.
The former England youth international also claims Roper introduced him to another notorious paedophile who tried to get him to join a sleepover at the pervert’s house. Jamie, 42, an ex-Leeds United and Hull City star, told the Sunday People: “What Frank Roper did was unforgivable.
“He was a very scary and very intimidating man and he always targeted the weaker, more vulnerable boys.
“My parents put their trust in him and he abused that trust.”
Roper scouted mainly in the 1970s and 80s in the North West of England. He aimed to discover the best young players, train them and offer them to clubs.
It is known he had particularly close links to Blackpool FC.
But Jamie now believes Roper used football as a cover for abuse – and was linked to other paedophiles who saw the sport as an easy way to abuse young boys.
Jamie recalled: “Roper used to talk very often about another man and his junior team.
“He would say things like, ‘You think you’re good? They’re better than you, they’ll kick your a***’. He was always talking about this guy, who I know now was a notorious paedophile.
“A match was arranged between the two teams. I played in the match with others who went on to be professional.
“Shortly afterwards the other man made contact with my parents to invite me to his house for the weekend.
“Thankfully my parents declined because of rumours about him.
“To me it suggests an organised network was in place and that Roper and the other man were colluding.
“There was no other way for that man to have got hold of my parents’ phone number without the help of Roper.”
The worst moment came in the 80s when Jamie and other young players accompanied Roper on a five-day all-expenses paid football tour to Thailand. But Jamie found himself at the centre of an ordeal which still haunts him.
His voice breaking with emotion, he said: “One night during the trip we went out to watch Thai boxing.
“Roper had a young Thai boy, about 11 or 12, the same age as us, sitting on his knee.
“I can remember thinking at the time, ‘What’s going on?’ but I was only 11, I didn’t feel like I could say anything.
“The Thai boy came back with us to our hotel and because we were all staying in the same room he came in to the room and we all got into bed.
"The lights went out and the next thing Roper started molesting the Thai boy and then began having sex with him in the bed next to us.
“Even though I was only a kid and I had clearly never had sex before I knew exactly what was going on.
“I could hear loud heavy breathing and I could see all the movements.
“I was in the bed next to him and it happening two yards away. He was clearly having sex.
“It was terrifying and I felt like it was all completely out of my control. I was very scared.
“Me and the other boys all lay in absolute silence. There was no way any of us could have done or said anything.
“I felt like I had to pretend I wasn’t there and it was like we were frozen statues. In the morning he was still laid there in bed with Roper.
“Only that boy knows how he was feeling, but despite my age I knew it wasn’t right and it shouldn’t have been happening. When the boy left it was like nothing had happened.
“There were other times where we were forced to leave the bedroom and were left outside for hours at a time.
“I don’t know what Roper was up to at those times, I can only guess.”
Jamie was considered one of the country’s best young players and went on to forge a successful 18-year professional career.
He joined Premier League champions Leeds United in 1992 before playing for Grimsby Town, Scunthorpe United, Dutch club Utrecht, Northampton Town, Hull City, Bristol Rovers, Lincoln City and Notts County.
Jamie originally credited all his success to Roper’s sordid and controlling regime.
He said: “I assumed he was instrumental in me becoming a footballer.
“I realise now it was like brainwashing. All I ever wanted was to be a professional footballer. He sold us the opportunity and that gave him a lot of control over us.”
Jamie, who has told the Professional Footballers’ Association and children’s charity the NSPCC about his ordeal, said: “Roper never touched my private parts or tried to rape me. But he regularly groped me and others. And there was constant mental abuse.
“He brought things forward in my mind that I don’t think I should have even been aware of at that age.
“It’s revolting for me looking back now but at 11 I just presumed what he was doing was normal. He had his favourites and I know other boys who suffered much worse.”
Speaking about Roper’s grooming methods, Jamie said: “He was a wealthy man who owned a successful business. He would take us for meals or to Blackpool games and he would give us sports equipment from his shops.
“At his warehouse he would let us drive his car. It was an Audi Quattro with leather seats. To drive it you had to sit on his knee in the driver’s seat.
“When we travelled in his car or his minibus and on planes, he would put a cover over the lap of whoever was sitting next to him and then you would see his hands moving over them. You never wanted to be next to him in that situation.
“We would get back into the changing rooms at Blackpool’s training ground and he would be running the bath and the showers and encouraging everyone to get in and then watch us all.
“In his car or minibus going to games, he would regularly start discussing sex.
“He would also discourage us from female relationships, which was strange. He said girls could stop us from becoming footballers.”
Roper died in Stockport, Cheshire, 11 years ago. Jamie said: “I only found out on Thursday.
“While part of me wishes he was still here to be held accountable, I felt nothing when I heard. I feel like he isn’t worth the upset.”
A Blackpool FC Spokesman said: “The club is yet to receive any information from the PFA or relevant authorities in relation to the ongoing investigations of historical abuse.
“Should any past links with the organisation come to light, the club will provide every assistance it possibly can.”
eric olthwaite wrote:Thread's been dry for a while; I guess these things have been drowned out by weightier matters in the news.
It's the 'criminal damage' bit that gets me. Man's got the kind of dick that could damage a cast-iron drain cover?
metalsmurf wrote:Not sure where this belongs but...
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