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  • Writer's pictureDaniel Little

A Day In The Life Of A Wheelchair Supporter

Col Draper, a regular contributor to Hull City DSA, has wrote for us what it is like following the club in a wheelchair.


My obsession with Hull City started in my early teens. Although I didn't attend games for a good few years I always listened to them on Radio Humberside and bought the Green Sports Mail religiously.


I've even been known to go in the passage to listen on many a Boxing Day when we had visitors. I knew my Mam or Dad would take me if I asked them but they were already devoting a lot of their time taking me to various clubs I was involved in as well as spending time with my brother and 2 sisters. It was only fair that I let them share their time.


I passed my driving test January 8th 1987, I started going to home games from the following game and have been hooked ever since. Obviously my first game was at Boothferry Park. There was a little hut where we were supposed to pay but on many occasion the person who was supposed to take the money used to go inside and close the door so I and my helper often got in free.


So onto the game day, the disabled area was on the top of 6 or 7 steps and there were lots of holes in it so I had to be careful where I was wheeling otherwise I could have ended up at the bottom of the stairs. We weren't under cover either so I got pretty wet when it was raining. They didn't have a disabled toilet so I had to use the main toilets in the West Stand. They reeked and the floor was always wet (not with water either!) Then eventually they built a disabled stand in the South East corner. This had a disabled toilet in but it gave off quite a whiff. It was often named the bus shelter, you'd know why if you saw it.


One particular game when I went on my own it was teaming down and to get to the disabled stand I had to go over the mud track in front of the South Stand. Wet mud and wheelchairs don't go together. Needless to say I got stuck in the mud. The players were out doing their warm up at the time. Steve Wilson (our keeper) took his gloves off and gave me a push to my stand. It was an ok view although I prefer to be elevated it was probably the best the club could do at the time. We weren't near the other supporters so the only interaction we got was either going to the game or leaving the game. Then came the move to the KC Stadium as it was called then, a vast improvement on Boothferry Park.


I'm in one of the elevated platforms which is under cover, in with the rest of the crowd and it has a disabled toilet nearby. I also have an allocated parking space which is another vast improvement as it was pot luck as to where you parked. I enjoy the interaction with the fellow supporters.


Nothing will ever be perfect for everyone though. A few changes I'd like to see are:


1) Disabled platforms made higher so I can see when people stand up which is a natural thing to do at an exciting part of the game.


2) Disabled toilets are all set out the same so if I needed to sit on I would find it almost impossible. We could do with a left transfer toilet and a right transfer toilet near each disabled area. This would also alleviate having to queue and often missing the start of the 2nd half as disabled tend to take longer.


3) Getting to the food counter can be quite problematic due to the crowds. It would be good if an app could be created where we can order food and have it delivered just before half time.


I went to the odd away game in the 3rd and 4th division (league 1 and league 2 as it's now called). I used to go on Simon Grays coach and would drive to local games. They didn't have a lift on them but he kindly reserved me the front seat and I shuffled up the steps on my bum and fellow supporters offered help where they could too. I also had to make sure I went to the toilet before leaving home as I couldn't get to the toilet on the coach.


Then we got promoted to the Premier League and that's where my obsession with away matches started although I did carry on going when we got relegated. I used to drive to most games but after a few years this became a big expense so I decided to use Acklams coaches. The drivers are all very helpful as are the passengers. I've not been able to get to many games recently due to various illnesses and injuries. My nephews have been absolutely fantastic in helping me get to a game when they can, I can't thank them enough. I never knew I'd go to so many away games so never kept track. I must have been to 80+ grounds. I wouldn't have done half of them if it wasn't for the help my nephews give me.


Colin also adds the following about not been able to attend many games this season due to illness and a shoulder injury he sustained.


I've not been able to get to many games recently due to various injuries and illnesses but have kept my membership going as I want the same spot when I return as they're a great bunch of people around me.


This means I've been paying for games but not actually going, thus leaving an empty space that the club can sell to another supporter, I'm not sure how many times they've sold the space if indeed they have but they'd be getting double money for the space.


Although it's against the T&C's I've heard rumours of able bodied either selling their membership or passing it on for the odd game. That's harder to do if you're in a wheelchair. Although I understand passing membership on is against the T&C's It would be a nice gesture from the club if disabled supporters could get some sort of refund if they sell a space that's already paid for. Whether this be a recalculation of the direct debit, a voucher for the club shop or a voucher for money off food and drink when we are able to get to a game.


All thoughts and views are of Colin Draper, Colin wanted to get his story out.



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