A NON-LEAGUE football club from Barnsley has been criticised for signing a convicted domestic abuser who beat a woman with an iron bar.
Reece Thompson played for Wombwell Town in a home match against South Elmsall United Services on Saturday and could make a second appearance away to Kiveton Park tomorrow.
The forward’s move to the Sheffield County Senior League side comes a month after another Yorkshire non-league club, Selby Town, backtracked on a decision to sign the 26-year-old in wake of negative public reaction.
When contacted by the Chronicle, Wombwell Town declined to comment.
Thompson was jailed for 40 months and handed a ten-year restraining order in April 2019 after subjecting his then-girlfriend to a horrifying ordeal which left her physically damaged, with injuries including a broken jaw, and psychologically traumatised.
He beat Danielle Thomas with an iron bar, twice smashed mirrors over her head and forced her to lick paint off a floor.
Thompson, who pleaded guilty to inflicting grievous bodily harm, assault occasioning actual bodily harm and damaging property, was released from prison early on licence for the attack which occurred in September 2018.
The Worksop-born player began his career as a trainee at Lincoln City before making a name for himself at Retford United.
He went on to play for Frickley Athletic, York City in the Football League, North Ferriby United and Guiseley and Boston United, where he had a spell on loan in the 2017/18 season.
Thompson was sacked by Guiseley, who play in the National League North, two levels below the Football League, following his imprisonment.
Saturday’s appearance was only his second competitive game since leaving jail, the other being for Mickleover, of the Northern Premier League, in February.
Wombwell Town play in the First Division of the Sheffield County Senior League, which is eight levels below the Football League.
A stated aim on the club’s formation in 2018 was ‘to build a club for the community and one that Barnsley will be proud of’.
They also intended for many Barnsley FC fans to adopt them as their second team.
Stephanie Peacock, the Barnsley East MP whose constituency includes Wombwell, has urged the club to reconsider the signing.
She said: “Wombwell Town FC has gone strength to strength since it was founded in 2018.
“I’’ve enjoyed visiting the club and I’ve been proud to support them.
“However, I am disappointed in their decision to sign Reece Thompson, a convicted domestic abuser.
“Thompson was convicted of grievous bodily harm after subjecting his partner to a three-day ordeal.
“She has bravely spoken out on the impacts of domestic abuse, not only on her mental health but also the welfare of her children.
“Domestic abuse rates have surged during the Covid-19 pandemic as victims have been left isolated behind closed doors with their abusers.
“I hope in light of this context, Wombwell Town FC will reconsider their decision and make a similar choice to Selby Town FC. Footballers are role models for young people in our community.”