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Forum Firsts – The North East

In the first of two 'Forum Firsts' articles. We are at Newcastle United's St James Park for the first-ever North East Forum.
FootballRugby UnionCarlisle UnitedMiddlesbroughNewcastle UnitedSunderland

You only get one 1st in life.


Your first kiss!


Your first all mates holiday… best not to talk about that one.


And the first time your football club gave you hope that this season would be your year, but it ended in predictable failure.


Well, this year Level Playing Field had two firsts… The North East and East Midlands fans forums.


Apart from the A1, there are a couple of things that link these two regions together.


Brian Clough: The goalscoring prowess brought success to Sunderland and Middlesbrough until his retirement, from where he became the managerial mastermind at Hartlepool, Derby and Nottingham Forest.


Fans: Between them, they have some of the most passionate fans in the UK who have witnessed European Championship winning teams to seeing their side lift the League Championship above their heads.


Every supporter should have the opportunity to witness these magic moments, and that’s why on August 22nd at St James’ Park in Newcastle and September 3rd at Pirelli Stadium in Burton – over 60 people attended from Disabled Supporters Association (DSAs), charity partners, sporting clubs from football and rugby coming together to talk, listen and engage with the one goal in mind, how can we improve the matchday experience for our fellow disabled supporters.


East Midlands forum review will be released on Friday 20th September but below is the review of the North East Forum that took place on August 22nd at St James Park


North East Forum


“We, at Newcastle United, were delighted to host the North East Forum for Level Playing Field recently. Events such as these are a fantastic opportunity for clubs and other stakeholders to share best practice and build relationships which will only result in football becoming more inclusive and accessible.”Lucy Oliver, Head of Inclusion at
Newcastle United Football Club


Sitting on the hill, overlooking the city St James’ Park is a cathedral that invites those present to worship the 11 men on the field wearing the famous black and white. The city famously has some of the most dedicated and passionate supporter bases in the land. So, it made sense that the first-ever Level Playing Field North East forum would be held in this city.


With Club and DSA representation from Newcastle United, Newcastle Falcons, Carlisle and Middlesbrough, as well as some friends from north of the border, Glasgow Rangers, Hearts and Hibs.


“It was a pleasure to attend the recent Level Playing Fields North East Forum in my role as the Heart of Midlothian F.C.Disability Access Officer . My colleagues from Hibernian F.C. and Rangers F.C. also attended the event held at Newcastle United’s stadium. Excellent presentations and speakers made for an interesting day plus lots of information to take back to Scotland!”Keith Ferguson, Disability Access Officer at Heart of Midlothian Football Club 


The day was filled with presentations from NUDSA chairperson Joe Ayton who spoke about the work the NUDSA have done over the past 20 years and the plans for the coming years.


Head of Inclusion at Newcastle United, Lucy Oliver who discussed accessibility at St James Part, and what’s being planned in the future.


We had guest speakers from Tony Jameson-Allen the co-founder of the charity Sporting Memories as well as the triple gold Paralympic home hero Stephen Miller who spoke about his love for Newcastle United and sport and his continuing journey for medals at Tokyo 2020.


“The first Level Playing Field North East Forum was a great success, and we are delighted that NUFC agreed to host it at St. James’ Park. We enjoyed contributing to the day and meeting other disabled supporters’ associations, sharing experiences, ideas and knowledge. We look forward to next year’s forum and are confident it will grow to prove valuable going forward “Stephen Miller MBE, NUDSA Secretary and triple gold medal-winning Paralympian.


As well as the above, the day was filled with interactive group activities that brought about group discussions on subject matters like parking, ticketing and invisible disability to just name a few, with the forum under the guidance of Liam Bird, (Level Playing Field Fans Liaison Officer) he wrapped up the day inviting all the peoples in attendance to reach out and engaged with their fellow disabled supporters as well as Level Playing Field so we can all continue to build on the great work being done in the North East.


“This was the first forum in this sport-loving region, and they won’t be the last. I’m already looking forward to next year’s North East Forums, and I invite all sport lovers to attend and be part of the discussion on how we can continue to move forward and bring about all our goal, access for all.”Liam Bird, Fans Liaison Officer


If you are interested in knowing more about regional forums in your area, then please email