Level Playing Field were delighted to learn that the success of Newport County AFC DSA has been recognised by the English Football League (EFL).
How Paul Olander and Newport County were reunited
One Club, One County. That’s the motto of Newport County, and it’s one which sums up exactly what the club are trying to achieve, both on and off the pitch.
The club retained their EFL status in the most dramatic of fashions last season – more on that later – and, along with strengthening their position in Sky Bet League Two, the South Wales club are committed to doing great work to help their fans and the local area.
The EFL are proud of the fantastic work that all 72 of our clubs do in the community, and Newport are no exception. A recent shining example is the story of Paul Olander, an Exiles fan of more than 40 years.
“We’ve both been supporting Newport for a long time, Paul even used to drive the minibus to away games,” said Paul’s wife, Tina. But the stroke her husband suffered in 2014 made attending games a struggle.
“We hadn’t been for a little while, but the Newport Council put us in touch with the Disabled Supporters Association of Newport County.
“We got chatting to Colin [Faulkner, DSA Chairman] about our connection with the club and the situation, and he took us to the ground and made sure everything was okay. We were able to start going again, and now we’ve got season tickets for 2017/18.”
Newport County’s DSA have also decided to adopt the One Club, One County motto, and Tina had nothing but praise for the work they do. Colin, along with all others involved, have worked tirelessly to make it as easy as possible for fans of all disabilities to come to Rodney Parade and cheer on their team.
Their sterling work meant Paul was able to witness the historic ‘great escape’ last season, when Michael Flynn led his side to survival in the closing stages of the campaign, emerging victorious in a dramatic final-day finale.
Now, just like his beloved Newport, Paul’s back at Rodney Parade after the club recently finished relaying the previously problematic turf, and he can now proudly display his new home shirt, a shirt which he played a part in the launch of.
“What Colin and the DSA have already achieved has been amazing, and what they’re trying to do is brilliant. They are putting things in place and making improvements for supporters of all disabilities.
“We got to enjoy last season’s survival, it was just amazing! There’s a raised platform for disabled supporters at Rodney Parade, so we had a great view and we celebrated just a little bit…
“Paul appears on the season ticket – the club have just been fantastic. They superimposed him on to it, and he features with players from our various teams and other supporters. He had the shirt on before it launched, he’s on the website… he thinks he’s famous now!”
With Newport County unbeaten and second in the table at the end of August, we’re sure that Paul, Tina and all fans supported by the club and the DSA are as thankful as ever for the great work they are doing.
Newport County AFC DSA was established in 2015 with support from Level Playing Field as part of the Working Together Project.
Tony Taylor, Chair of Level Playing Field, congratulated Colin Faulkner and his colleagues at Newport County AFC Disabled Supporters Association for their help given to long term fan Paul Olander. “We hear so many good things about participation in sport, but all too often the many significant benefits for all concerned in attending as a spectator are overlooked. I know that the DSA at Newport County provide a fantastic service to their fan base and it is particularly pleasing given the involvement of Level Playing Field in helping the DSA get off the ground as part of our ongoing Working Together project”.