The debate on whether Ched Evans should be allowed to resume his football career has reminded me of the discussion among Birmingham City fans before Marlon King was signed. Evans is being released from prison after serving time for rape; King had served time for sexual assault before playing for Coventry and then coming to Birmingham. I was among those who didn’t want Birmingham to sign King but accepted him when he came. I believe that when someone has served his time he should be allowed to resume his life. King put in some good performances for us. I remember my one and only visit to The Den in October 2012 when Millwall was 3-0 up and King scored a hat trick to get us a draw. He’s not the sort of person I’d invite into my home for afternoon tea but there were many times I was glad to have him in my team. And I am sad that he’s back in prison following a conviction for dangerous driving.
DJ Campbell is another former Birmingham City player who has been in trouble with the law. He was arrested last December after allegations of football match spot fixing but was cleared in August. He is now trying to get back into football by playing at non-league side Maidenhead United. People with train-wreck lives sometimes blame their troubles on getting in with the wrong crowd. It sounds as though DJ Campbell has had the opposite experience and has one very good friend, Johnson Hippolyte. Hippolyte was the one who encouraged DJ not to give up after being released as a teenager by Aston Villa, was his manager at non-league Yeading, is now manager of Maidenhead and offered to let DJ train there. League football is a high pressure job; players have to perform in front of crowds who will see all the mistakes they make and abuse them when they play badly. Footballers and everybody else need good friends who will pick them up when life knocks them down.
It has been good to see some of our former players in the England squads, Joe Hart and Ben Foster in the senior squad, Jack Butland and Nathan Redmond in the U21s. All four of them are players I was glad to have in my team and I’d also be happy to have in my home for afternoon tea. Whoever priced the tickets for the U21 game at Molineux on Friday got it right. It sounded as though the crowd of 23,000 created a good atmosphere and provided great support. Well done to the team for getting a win despite going behind; I wish them all the best for the 2nd leg tomorrow.