Mendham playing football again

A senior official of the top Ipswich Football League has defended the right of jailed former soccer star Peter Mendham to play for a Suffolk village side. Former Norwich City midfielder Mendham, now 48, is allowed out on day release from Hollesley Bay prison to play for Sproughton Sports.

Fallen football hero Peter Mendham is being allowed out of prison to play matches for a Suffolk village side, it has been revealed.

The former Norwich City midfielder is currently at Hollesley Bay prison, near Woodbridge, where he is two years and a month into a five-year sentence after almost killing his ex-girlfriend in a knife attack.

He could potentially be released this summer, once he has served half his sentence for the 2006 attack on Charlotte Hyam at his home on Whitlingham Lane, Norwich.

Now it has emerged that 48-year-old Mendham is being allowed out of prison to play for Sproughton Sports in the Metaltec Suffolk and Ipswich League (SIL).

Mary Ablett, general secretary of the SIL, said: “I can confirm that Peter Mendham is signed on for Sproughton Sports and is an inmate of Hollesley Bay. I do not know the terms that allow him to play football outside the prison.”

Nobody from Sproughton would be quoted on Mendham's involvement with them, but it is believed he has been a regular player this season. The league declined to comment on how many appearances he had made this season.

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League trustee Peter Cocker, a former chairman of the league, said: “I have no problem with him being registered with our league. The prison will ensure that he will be no problem.

“If he is on day release he will have someone with him or be wearing a tag. Ipswich Town had a player - Gary Croft - who played while wearing a tag from Hollesley. Hollesley Bay used to run a side in our league, and there were no problems, and if they wanted to enter a team again I would not see any problem.”

Mendham was initially sentenced to seven-and-a-half years for wounding with intent, but the sentence was reduced to five years on appeal.

In February 2007, Norwich Crown Court heard how Mendham was obsessed with Ms Hyam, 39, and dreaded losing her. He plunged a kitchen knife into her back after an argument at his home, telling her: “If I can't have you nobody will. We are both going to die tonight.”

Ms Hyam lost a kidney in the attack and only survived because of swift and skilled medical attention.

The flame-haired midfielder made 267 appearances for City between 1976 and 1987, scoring 29 goals. He was a member of the 1985 Milk Cup-winning team and in the squads that won promotion to the top-flight in 1982 and 1986.

He later played non-league football for King's Lynn, Watton, Wroxham, North Walsham and Diss, for whom he scored the winner in the 1994 FA Vase final at Wembley.

Mendham worked for the Canaries as a football in the community officer and later became well-known in his role as a fundraiser for the East Anglian Air Ambulance.