He Started By Touching Me’; Former Female Footballer Opens Up On Abuse By Coach

A promising striker in the Chelsea set up, Darcy Wells was just 12 when she started receiving inappropriate images and texts from her coach, Shane Hughes. The threat of abuse from him led to a decline in Darcy’s mental health as she struggled to come to terms with what was happening, whilst she chased her dream of becoming a professional footballer.

Now 19, she has come to terms with what happened on and off the training pitches at Chelsea, and revealed the damage it did to her life.

She told the Daily Mail : “He [Hughes] was very friendly. Everyone liked him. If you didn’t know what he had done, you would say he is a nice guy.

“So, what did he do? ‘He started off by touching me in training inappropriately. That’s how it began. He would move people into their positions and it felt as though he would leave his hands on me for too long.”

This developed into Hughes sending revealing photos of himself to the young girl, and demanding pictures of her in exchange, threatening to come to her house and pulling her aside on the training pitch.

They were discovered by Darcy’s school when she felt like she needed help with the situation.

With his secret uncovered Hughes was sacked and placed on the sex offenders’ register for two years.

However, this was only the start of Darcy’s struggle as she battled to come to terms with what had happened.


Admitted to hospital six months after his dismissal, she alleged that Hughes had raped her at the training ground.

The case was brought to trial in 2015, but he was cleared of the charges, with members of the training staff supporting Hughes’ defense.

Darcy made several attempts to take her life during her teenage years and dropped out of school with no qualifications. She also gave up football with her parents left worrying for her life.

After leaving Chelsea, the club made attempts to check in on Darcy but soon stopped, leaving her mum, Donna, to feel that they failed her daughter.

Despite the abuse she stated that she does not want to put someone off joining Chelsea, saying how much she enjoyed it when she first signed for the London club. Darcy is also looking at getting back into football, and has been contacted by Crystal Palace, who told her the door is open if she wants to get back into the game.