Selby Town’s tagline, appearing on the header of their website, reads ‘a community football club’.
On Tuesday, they released a statement defending their decision to integrate Reece Thompson – a man who was jailed for 40 months for hitting his former partner with an iron bar, breaking her jaw, smashing two mirrors over her head and forcing her to lick paint off the floor – to their team.
Danielle Thomas, a mum of two, was the victim who suffered this horrific abuse over a three-day period.
In September last year, around the anniversary of the attack that left her fearing for her life, she spoke out about the mental bruises that outlasted the effects on her battered body.
“I had therapy once a week which helped me lots as I thought I deserved what I got,” Thomas said. “I blamed myself for the violence.
“I now realise it’s wasn’t my fault and I didn’t deserve it. I no longer receive therapy but my daughter still does. I’m not doing too well at the moment as it was a year on from the attack on 12 September. I have flashbacks.”
Now, two years after the ordeal in which she thought she was going to die, Thomas has to read that Selby Town “hope going forward Reece will be judged on his actions from this point with his knowledge that the expectations and standard of behaviour expected of him are high”.
In pre-season, however, the club admitted “a serious error of judgement” following a backlash after he played on trial against Tadcaster. It is a supposed “great deal of discussion within the club and with Reece” that has sparked this reversal, but it smacks of a valuing of goals over the treatment of women. Given his availability and desperation to play, it is an easy deal to do.
And Selby Town can convince themselves all they like that they are partaking in some great rehabilitation tale, but how can the severity of what he did be overlooked?
Or the fact that Thompson was sent back to prison a month after his release for posting a number of inappropriate tweets in relation to his conviction as well as discussing the case with a national tabloid.
How can they read Thomas’ revisiting of the offending, the depth of the turmoil that has followed for her and her daughter and conclude “that a second chance could and should be provided?”
In February, Thompson tweeted that he’s not allowed to voice his opinion or share info around the case, in which he pleaded guilty, as “I’m in the public eye”.
It was followed by a smiley face and thumbs up emoji. A case, I repeat, where he hit his former partner with an iron bar, breaking her jaw, smashed two mirrors over her head and forced her to lick paint off the floor.
Why are Selby Town allowing him to be in the public eye? Why are they allowing him to continue playing?
He did not break the speed limit, he broke a women’s jaw. He did not smash into a car by accident, he smashed two mirrors over her head on purpose. Over three days, he grievously hurt and dehumanised her.
To me, this is all wrong. Rehabilitation can be a positive course of action, but it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach. My view is that just because he wants to pull on his boots and “bang goals in” again, doesn’t mean he should just be given the opportunity to.
It cannot be stated enough: Thompson hit his former partner with an iron bar, breaking her jaw, smashed two mirrors over her head and forced her to lick paint off the floor over three days.
I feel that this is a serious error of judgement, Selby Town and a betrayal of the “community football club” concept.
Since this article was written, Selby Town have now confirmed that they will no longer sign Reece Thompson.
“Further to our previous statement, we have listened to all of the comments and Reece Thompson will not be signing for Selby Town Football Club.”
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