Russell Benjamin was given a one-year contract with Southport over the summer, after being released from prison. He was given nine years on drug related charges, but was released after serving half of his sentence.
The Liverpool-born midfielder previously played for Warrington Town after his release, and Telford United prior, but is a product of Southport’s youth system.
It’s a bit of a leap from Benjamin, and speaks volumes of the impact he must have made at his previous club, but that’s down to his new manager.
Southport boss Liam Watson is all about giving people a second chance, having worked in Ashworth high security hospital near Liverpool, which treats some of the UK’s most disturbed criminals, for over 18 years.
“People make mistakes,” he told BBC Sport. “Those who show genuine remorse, realise they’ve made a mistake and want to make amends, I think they should be admired. They deserve a second chance.”
The Yellows’ current squad also includes Paddy Lacey – a 26-year-old hard-tackling midfielder from Liverpool, and just last year Michael Kinsella – previously jailed for drug offences – worked as a goalkeeper coach.
It’s incredibly positive to see these lads being given another chance at a good level in football. I can’t speak for them, but I’d imagine the sport is a huge part of their lives.