Former Norwich City footballer Peter Mendham vows to rebuild life and give something back to the community
17:43 16 May 2014
Archant Norfolk Copyright
It has been a long, hard road but former Norwich City star Peter Mendham is rebuilding his life and is determined to give something back to the Norfolk community where he grew up.
Heartbreak in prison
Losing his mother while in prison was a low moment for Peter Mendham, which is why he was determined to spend quality time with his father in the last years of his life.
Family has always been important to the former footballer, his two sons Ross, 30, and Jamie, 28, now have children of their own and Mr Mendham is enjoying life as a grandfather.
He describes himself as a “giving person” and others will tell you he wears his heart on his sleeve.
Although some have taken advantage of his good nature in the past, Mendham is determined to remain the person his parents brought him up to be.
“I am very giving – I give as much as I can,” he said.
“I love people but sometimes they can take advantage of that. I have become stronger because of that.
“I will continue to be a nice person, that’s how my
mother and father brought me up.”
He has fond memories of his childhood, which have
helped him through difficult times.
“Unfortunately, I have lost my father as well now, but I had the best upbringing anyone could want,” he said.
“We spent quality time together, with no gadgets, no distractions. We used to cycle 12 miles to a campsite – my mum, dad, brother, sister and I, and spent the whole summer holiday there. I think of those memories and I smile every day.”
He tries to spend as much time as possible with his children and grandchildren, making sure he does not get caught
up with the pressures of
“I have got two wonderful sons and they have provided me with a granddaughter and a grandson,” he said.
“They are what is really important to me.”
After a dramatic fall from grace eight years ago, next week he will host his first coaching session for more than a decade after getting his badges back from the FA.
The 54-year-old aims to help young men and women with both the physical and psychological demands of the game, which has been a part of his life since childhood.
“I want to make a difference, not only to my own life but to those of others,” he said.
“I have been to the depths of despair and now I am on the up. I want to show people that through football and other things there is hope.”
A hero at Carrow Road in the 1970s and 80s, Mendham made 267 first team appearances for the club and went on to work in coaching and corporate hospitality.
But in 2006 police were called to his home in Trowse and he was arrested for the attempted murder of his then girlfriend, Charlotte Hyam, who had been stabbed with a kitchen knife.
Mendham served a two and a half year prison stretch after the murder charge was dropped and he admitted to wounding with intent.
It was during that time his mother died - a period he describes as his “very lowest point”.
But it was his positive attitude and love for his family and football that saw him through.
“I have two sons that I love and adore,” said Mendham.
“I was thinking all the wrong things at that time, but then I thought about my sons and the special things I have done in my life with Norwich City. I have got a very supportive family, who have helped me get my life back.”
Calling what happened in 2006 a ‘moment of madness’, Mendham says he has learned from his experiences and now feels capable of dealing with difficult situations.
“In 2006 something confronted me that I had never had to deal with before and I dealt with it all wrong,” he said.
“I thought to myself, ‘why have I done this? I am a nice person, I am a giving person, why have I done something so bad?’
I have got the skills now but that came too late.”
He describes himself as a loving, caring and giving person, and has set up his own charity - the Yellow Brick Road Foundation, to help people in Norfolk who are experiencing problems from homelessness to the illness of a child.
“I am a Norfolk person - we are loyal and we are deep,” he said.
“Just look at the support for Norwich City Football Club. I want to help people in the county and make a difference.”
Mendham will be coaching young people through the UK Soccer Academy from next week, using his time at Carrow Road and his subsequent diploma in sports psychology to help those who want to succeed.
He will also work with young men such as Lewis Sturman, 20, who have been on the fringes of big clubs.
“At the moment Lewis is with Dereham FC, who are the envy of a lot of non-league football clubs,” said Mendham.
“I want to work with people like this in the local area to carry on their careers.”
His advice to young people trying to follow their dreams is to never give up.
“There are a lot of doors that have shut in my face, but my motto is never give up,” he said.
“You will get knockbacks, I have had a lot of them and I will continue to but you have to carry on. Every one of us has to deal with difficult situations every day.
But it’s how you deal with them.”