Police quiz ex Canary star over stabbing

He was a hero to thousands of football fans in a medal-winning career with Norwich City and later gained respect across the fundraising community. But tonight as former Canaries-midfielder Peter Mendham was held in custody on suspicion of attempted murder and his girlfriend underwent life-saving surgery after suffering stab wounds at his home in Whitlingham Lane, Trowse, colleagues and former team-mates spoke of their shock at his arrest.

He was a hero to thousands of football fans in a medal-winning career with Norwich City and later gained respect across the fundraising community.

But tonight as former Canaries-midfielder Peter Mendham was held in custody on suspicion of attempted murder and his girlfriend underwent life-saving surgery after suffering stab wounds at his home in Whitlingham Lane, Trowse, colleagues and former team-mates spoke of their shock at his arrest.

Police and paramedics responding to a 999 call arrived at Mr Mendham's rented cottage just after 8.20pm on Wednesday.

Sources said the incident was a “domestic” and officers confirmed they were not looking for anyone else in connection with the incident.

Charlotte Hyam remained in intensive care at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital where her condition was described as “serious but stable”. She suffered wounds to her back which are believed to have been inflicted with a kitchen knife.

Former Norwich boss Ken Brown, who managed Mr Mendham for most of his career including the famous 1985 Milk Cup victory, said: “I am extremely surprised by this. It is impossible to know what has gone on and whether he is guilty or not but he is the last person you would expect to be involved in something like this.”

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Mr Mendham played 267 games for Norwich City between 1978 and 1987. He had later spells with King's Lynn, Watton Town and Diss as well as have spells abroad.

In recent years he was employed as a fundraiser for the East Anglian Air Ambulance and narrowly escaped the sack in July after receiving a driving ban for drink driving. He had been with Mrs Hyam on the night of the drink driving arrest.

Neighbours at Mrs Hyam's home in Church Lane, Colton, where it is believed she lived with her partner and child, said she had been a friendly woman who had lived in the village for several years.

Norwich City spokesman Joe Ferrari refused to comment other than to say Mr Mendham was occasionally involved in hospitality at the club. Former players still connected with the club had been instructed not to comment. Bryan Gunn, who played with Mr Mendham throughout the 1980s, would only say he was “shocked”.

Mr Brown said he last saw Mr Mendham on Friday when he had offered to drive him to fundraising events. “He was a great lad to have in my team as he always gave 110pc,” he added. “I still saw him now and again and he always seemed very positive and upbeat.”

Simon Gray, chief executive of the East Anglian Air Ambulance Trust, said the charity had made attempts to contact Mr Mendham and his legal representatives throughout the day but had been unsuccessful.

Following his drink-drive conviction the trust carried out an internal inquiry to decide whether he should keep his job.

Mr Gray said: “I'm shocked and stunned to hear the news, we had no knowledge of that. Any decision on Peter's future will have to be based on the facts and follow our own internal processes.”

Mr Mendham's house was cordoned off today and two officers stood guard. Mr Mendham, who has two children from a previous marriage, had been renting the cottage for about 18 months from his next door neighbour Carolyn Crosse.

She said: “We didn't hear anything at all, the first we knew something had happened was when the police arrived and after that we just stayed in our house because there were about five police cars and ambulances outside. We could see the blue lights and the police cars from our window, we had no idea what had happened but we could tell it was something serious.

“He was a nice guy and a really good tenant. It's a shock to us. We did not see him that much but when we did he was always nice and chatty and friendly and he was highly thought of in his work.”

Det Sgt Ian Fox said: “We are at an early stage in our enquiries and I am keen to hear from anyone who has any information about what happened and has not yet spoken to police.”

Contact Det Sgt Fox at Norwich CID on 0845 4564567 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

FACT FILE

Peter Mendham will be long remembered as one of Norwich City's most loyal servants - former Canaries manager Ken Brown once said of him: “If you cut him open his blood would flow yellow and green”.

As a tireless midfielder he helped the club to their famous 1985 victory in the Milk Cup final also picking up a Second Divison Championship medal in 1987. Along the way he made 267 appearances and scored 29 goals.

Mendham became the epitome of the term “local hero' - born in King's Lynn in 1960 he signed schoolboy forms for the Canaries before signing full-time terms in 1978 and devoting his entire professional career to the club,

A pelvic injury forced him to retire in April 1987 but he went on to play for King's Lynn, Watton town, Swedish club Hammarby and NAC Breda in Holland.

He joined Diss Town in June 1991 before moving to Wroxham in November 1992. Bill Punton resigned him for Diss in September 1993 and he returned to Wembley as a player scoring the winning goal in extra-time against Taunton Town in the FA Vase final in May 1994.

Since then Mendham has had spells at a number of other clubs, including Wroxham, Attleborough, and Red Roofs.

In more recent years he became a well-known face as fundraiser for the East Anglian Air Ambulance Trust. He attended events across the county to promote the charity.

He has also run football sessions for youngsters for about 20 years and found work as a model.