Football club raises awareness of one-punch campaign at derby match

South Shields FCs players with Maxine Thompson ahead of the North Shields game. Image by Peter Talbot.
South Shields FCs players with Maxine Thompson ahead of the North Shields game. Image by Peter Talbot.

Footballers raised awareness of a campaign focussing on the danger of one-punch attacks ahead of a vital derby match.

The South Shields FC team showed their support for One Punch North East before their League Cup match against North Shields at Mariners Park on Tuesday.

Stephen Willey remains in a coma after a one-punch attack in December.

Stephen Willey remains in a coma after a one-punch attack in December.

The campaign is headed by Maxine Thompson, who set it up following the death of her 19-year-old son Kristian following a one-punch attack in 2011.

The Mariners became involved when manager Jon King invited Mrs Thompson to the game, and the club then tweeted a picture of the players holding up their hands alongside a banner reading “#DontUseHandsAsWeapons”.

The match was attended by a crowd of 1,349.

Mrs Thompson said: “It was very good for the campaign. The lads held their hands up before the game and posed with the banner, which was excellent.

There were over 1,300 people there, so it was good exposure for us

Maxine Thompson

“There were over 1,300 people there, so it was good exposure for us.

“I’m friends with Jon King. He has supported us in other ways as well and asked if we’d like to do it.

“When we found out it was going to be the derby, that made it even better.”

The agony that one-punch attacks can cause was brought into greater scrutiny this week.

Washington man Stephen Willey, a member of South Shields Velo Cycling Club, remains in a coma after being hit in December.

His attacker – Nicholas Graham, 26, of Belsay Gardens, Newcastle – was jailed for three-and-a-half years on Thursday after pleading guilty to causing grievous bodily harm and breaching the restraining order to stay away from the former girlfriend.

Mrs Thompson added: “I don’t think people realise the devastation one-punch attacks can cause.

“I lost my 19-year-old son to a one-punch assault. That’s my drive.

“I just want to carry on raising awareness. It’s more common than a lot of people think.

“We just hope people will stop, think and walk away if they find themselves in that situation.”