As part of Level Playing Field’s Weeks of Action 2015, Newcastle United fan and NUDSA vice chair Joe Ayton has shared his match day experience with us.
My name is Joe Ayton, I am 32 and I have been a season ticket holder for 15 years I have always had the same wheelchair space and carers seat in the Leazes Stand.
To mark Level Playing Field’s Weeks of Action 2015, I have been given the opportunity to share my match day experience at a recent home game against Arsenal as a disabled person and power chair user.
I am proud to serve as Vice-Chairman of Newcastle United Disabled Supporters Association which for over 15 years has been working hard to get a fair deal for disabled supporters.
I arrive by car and I am dropped off opposite the ground where there is a steep hill to negotiate in order to access the Leazes Stand. For me personally this is not a problem because of my power chair however if you use a manual chair it could prove problematic without help. In fairness to the club however because of the geographical location of the ground itself (on a hill) there is not much the club could do to change this.
At half time, my brother helps me reach the accessible toilet which I access with my own Radar key. The stewards usually have a key for those who need one. The light is on a motion sensor and there is grab rail. The size is adequate and meets my needs.
Accessing food and refreshments can be difficult as I find the counters too high and my chair is on the low side. Last season, the club and its catering staff introduced the venue menu App which can be downloaded for free on mobile devices. This allows fans to order food and refreshments and have them delivered to their seat. On this occasion I did not use this facility but I have used it successfully in the past.
I hope sharing my Newcastle matchday experience has been helpful. To find out more about NUDSA please visit our website here.
Level Playing Field (LPF) Weeks of Action 2015 is a chance for the sports community to promote the message of access and inclusion for all fans. From 18th April – 3rd May 2015, sports clubs and organisations will be hosting events and activities across England and Wales to celebrate the good work they are doing to improve access and promote inclusion, as well as celebrating the disabled fans at their club.
You can join in and support the Weeks of Action by signing up to our ‘Thunderclap’ here.