Below is Steve’s own account of his experiences of White Hart Lane and the fantastic work of our staff, published this week on Muscular Dystrophy UK’s website...
My name is Steve and I have Becker Muscular Dystrophy and am a big Tottenham fan. My experiences of going to live football have always been very positive and I was quite surprised to hear that other football grounds seem to be letting down its disabled fans including those in the top division.
I went to my first game about 4 years ago after a chance meeting with a friend of a friend at an MD fundraising event who organised accessible tickets. I didn’t think that I would ever go to a match due to my disability but was pleasantly surprised at the access and support, I got the bug big time.
Since my first outing I now get to a few games a season with either my sister or my mum who get a free personal assistant ticket. Currently I’m in a bit of a transition phase between still being able to walk and using a manual chair when attending games. However this is not a problem as I can wheel to my seat and transfer taking away the worry of falling and, when the time comes, have the option to sit in the wheelchair area.
Tottenham’s ground, White Hart Lane is an old stadium, and like many old buildings making them disabled friendly is not always simple, however here they have worked hard to provide great facilities for disabled people both in wheelchairs, ambulant supporters and those in between.
They have facilities such as locked disabled toilets with the disabled stewards having RADAR keys preventing use and abuse by others. They also have separate refreshment facilities to reduce queuing time and avoid having to negotiate large numbers of people. The disability stewards are a super group of people who are always very welcoming to the regulars and first timers alike. Nothing is ever too much trouble which all adds to the great experience.
The view from the seats I have sat in have generally been good apart from when people around me stand up celebrating a goal. There is also one obstacle which is nothing to most people, a small step no more than four inches high between the front row and the path in front of it which I think is there to stop the front row from flooding. The stewards are always very apologetic about this every time I go as it takes me time to negotiate but they are always there to assist, along with whoever I’m with or fellow supporters, so it’s never an issue.
The club seem clued up on disability with their own disability liaison officer, Shirley, who is always available on the phone to assist with any issues and she is present on match days.
They also have a Disabled Supporters Association which I am a member of who provide a voice to the club regarding all issues surrounding disability.
They are in the process of building a new stadium and seem forward thinking to be able to improve on what is already in place. This is exciting from my point of view as the improvements will enhance the experience such as having no small obstacles to overcome and better views.
I know I’m fortunate to support a team who can make necessary changes as not all clubs are able to and some think they can just shy away from it.
Going to live sport is great so why should having a disability mean missing out or putting up with poor conditions? This is why the Trailblazers campaign on access to spectator sports is so vital to highlight issues to improve access for all and make that difference.