Guest writer today is Brian Sylvester as I was unable to attend.
Thursday 13th June 2019
Castleford Tigers v Hull FC – Mend A Hose Jungle
After incessant rain for three days it was nice to leave Grimsby in relatively dry conditions.
The trip to Castleford was, as always, uneventful and we arrived in plenty of time for this Thursday evening fixture.
We parked in the Carlton Lanes Car Park and headed off to Mend A House. The approach to the stadium is not the best with narrow footpaths and high kerbs, I appreciate this is not the Tigers fault but outside their ground they appear to have a security wall, plastered with advertising, that people congregate at blocking wheelchairs at times.
We had not purchased tickets in advance so had to go around to the far side entrance to find the office.
To access this, you enter via a side gate and proceed down a steep hill, about 10 yards worth, and head to the portacabin ticket office. There is only one window for sales and this is set to high for a wheelchair user. We spoke to a very nice gentleman in the office who sold us our tickets and allowed us to use contactless payment, which is handy if you have someone with you to reach the machine. Explaining we didn’t want to sit in the disabled area, for two reasons, (1) It isn’t the best for seeing (2) You are segregated from your own supporters, we were directed to the gate at the far end of the stadium and gained entry quite easily with an accessible steward pointing us in the direction we wanted to be in.
The first port of call was the disabled toilet; this is secreted away behind an ice cream van. It is not Radar key operated and there was no sign to say it was occupied s. so after trying the door, which was locked we waited a while till we ascertained if it was occupied. After banging on the door, a voice proved to us it was. When it opened a wheelchair bound lady exited and her husband, a Tigers fan, apologised for there not being a sign on the door and a bit of good old-fashioned rugby league banter passed between us. The toilet itself did have rails which sadly appeared to be held up by a plastic wall that moved when you adjusted the rails, unnerving to a one-legged man like me. I felt as if I would fall whilst holding the rail. Leaving the toilet, we looked at food, but it was little on the expensive side, so we went without.
It was then we realised we had not picked up a programme, yes, I’m a dinosaur that still like to read his copy at bedtime, we looked around, but no sellers were visible.
Fortunately, a friend had got a copy and I purchased it from him. £1, like Hull’s, and a good read. To enter the terrace, you must negotiate a very steep hill, yes, it is concrete, but is certainly a challenge for able bodied people to get up let alone one pushing a wheelchair. Rather out of breath and red-faced Danny got me to the top only to find that the concrete turns to a stony pathway. Loose stones at that.; I know it is not likely, but in the event of an outbreak of crowd trouble these would make good weapons and I feel they should be removed.
We chose to position in front of and half way along the executive boxes and this entailed having to lift the chair up a step from the stones to the concrete terrace. The view even from up here is not the best as the crush barriers are rather thick and solid. I spent the game bobbing up and down to view over the top for far end play and under for the near try line. Also, the terrace steps are quite high so people standing in front can obscure your view. From where we positioned we couldn’t see the scoreboard or the clock though we did obviously have the screen but even the view of that was poor as fans again blocked your view.
Exiting the ground also meant crossing the stones and dropping down the hill. The walk to the exit gated was fraught with danger as fans unaware of wheelchairs crisscrossed their way out. Also queues to the toilets blocked the path.
Outside the ground we headed back to the car park but sadly this wasn’t straight forward as we had supporters’ busses parked up blocking then pavements. Now I don’t know why they don’t park the buses in the stadium confines as there appears to be plenty of room. This might be a police idea but as blocking a public right of way is illegal perhaps the club can investigate this.
(This is due to Sky TV being in attendance, they don’t allow coaches to park up, we have discussed this every time with Castleford Tigers but there is no shifting, the coaches parking up on the road side also onto the pavement should though be a police issue) RRWMS
Overall the way disabled citizens are treated is not the best, I appreciate that the ground is very old and past its sell by date, here though I do admit to quite liking a good old fashioned stadium rather than the sterile stadiums of the 21st Century, but with a few minor changes the disabled person might have a better experience, tarmacking certain sections of the terrace and making it more accessible would help. There is also the possibility of putting up a small roof next to the executive boxes. This I realise would mean a catering stand would have to be moved but it would make a suitable viewing area for fans in wheelchairs.
Still Hull won so I have ignored the drizzle that fell and came home a happy Airlie Bird.