A YOUTH football coach who acted as a scout for professional teams has denied abusing two boys at Westhoughton Leisure Centre.

Giving evidence in his own defence at Bolton Crown Court Michael Coleman, who was also manager of the centre, told a jury that he had coached about 65 different teams since 1968, but could not initially remember the Daisy Hill squad the boys belonged to in the early 1980s.

Coleman, aged 75, admitted that he had sometimes taken showers with the young players after getting soaking wet during training.

He said that the staff showers were on the pool side of the sports centre but he did not want to trail mud into the area so showered with the boys instead.

Coleman, of Glaister Lane, Breightmet, is accused of indecently assaulting two boys on separate occasions.

One former player has told the court that he and Coleman were alone in the changing rooms after taking a shower when the coach forced him to commit a sex act.

Another boy, who says he was 12 or 13 at the time, told the court that, after injuring his leg, Coleman gave him physiotherapy on three occasions in a storeroom.

He alleged that Coleman would run his hands under his shorts.

But, when asked, by his barrister Colin Buckle, whether the incidents had taken place Coleman responded: "Certainly not."

"That simply did not, in any way happen," he added.

He denied that he insisted boys should shower and that he would show them how to wash. He said: "I never showed anyone, in 50 years, how to wash themselves. I would have thought that that was a pretty basic thing to know to do."

Coleman stressed that the leisure centre was very busy and he had instructed staff to patrol corridors and changing rooms every 10 minutes to deter thieves so it would not be a private place in which to abuse anyone.

"To my mind no one with any sense would even attempt to do something like that," he said.

Coleman, who was voted the Manchester League's outstanding manager of the year in 1976, initially told police that he had coached the Daisy Hill team around 1990, but told the jury that he had forgotten involvement with one of the club' s junior teams in the early 1980s because they were not very good.

The trial continues.