On Friday we returned to our home ground of the KCOM stadium and because Mum is also disabled, we have had a parking space on the perimeter of the stadium for several years which helps with accessibility.
The only downside to this is you must be in the ground at least 45 minutes before kick off otherwise they lock you out and you have to park on the main south stand car park. It has happened to us twice this season and it’s quite a distance to the stadium from the south stand car park.
Another thing we are fortunate for though is our parking space is right in line with the lift for the east stand which is where our passes are for.
On arrival I took the ramps from the car and safely rolled Speedy I-Go down the tracks, the ramps put back away I got into Speedy and set off towards the lifts.
The lift, singular is not very big, in fact I believe it is only for 8 persons and with a stand with the capacity of 6000 is not ideal, also bearing in mind you can only get one wheelchair in at any one time, so it’s a waiting game.
Once up on to the concourse I go to the disabled toilet, this doesn’t have a radar lock and is therefore open to abuse.
It’s normally clean and there are enough rails for ease of getting on and off the toilet and a safety pull cord, though as can be noted was fastened around the grab rail. The door only swings one way so is difficult to handle if you happen to be on your own as it’s a case of opening it and holding it open with your foot as you go through, ok for me but no good for people who have lost limbs or the use of their limbs.
After the toilet stop we make our way to the food and beverage outlet, as you can see there is now space for a wheelchair user and therefore I have to have someone with me to both reach my food/drink and hand over my money/card.
Now this is one ground I insist on going into the stand, mainly because there are about 20 of us who have been together in one place for a lot of years and because the wheelchair platform near there is full.
My amazing friend meets me every home game and helps me up the steps with a raft of other helpers as I get further up the stand. Everyone is amazing and as I go up there is never a shortage of hands reaching out to get me into my seat safely, for which I am eternally grateful.
I stay seated throughout the game, unless I need the toilet and then the same military exercise takes place to get me back down and up again.
I probably never say it often enough, but I am so fortunate for the amazing friends I have.
At the end of the game I am once again helped down to my chair and I go and get into the queue for the lift, this is the longest part and can take 20 minutes to get out of the stadium, often being the last down.
Speedy is safely secured back in the car and we can join the queue to leave the stadium, again this can take a while as they only open one exit for all the car parks, so everyone is vying for position from all angles.
In summary the KCOM scores 7 out of 10 because there is only one lift, the disabled toilet is not on a radar key and getting in and out is dreadful when there are other exits that can be opened but they are never staffed. The other discrepancy I noted and even asked on Thursday was there where no bag checkers, second week on the trot my bag hasn’t been checked, when ironically on the screen at half time there was a video of the Hull FC players talking about what to do in the event of a terror attack, for anyone who doesn’t know, You Run, Hide and Report.
We are very much left to feel like the poor relation as tenants of the KCOM at times and that makes me very sad as at the end of the day it was built as a community stadium.
Guest Brian Sylvester
It was back to the league for Hull after their Semi Final defeat at Bolton, and with a very short turn around, Wigan were the visitors to the KCOM stadium.
Leaving Grimsby, on a very balmy evening, we made good progress across the river and arrived at the stadium car park just after half six. Now this may seem early for a 19:45 kick off but we have arrived at the car park, ours is situated on the inner circle, just before 19:00 on the odd occasion only to be informed that we have not arrived in time and would have to park in the main car park as the barrier is down for spectator safety.
We were originally told it was 30 minutes before kick-off, football is 45 mins, something I think needs making clear to both stewards and disabled parkers is a definite cut off time.
Parked up we made our way to the reception area to make entry to the ground. We should use a different gate, but the door is always closed and if the steward has wandered away no one responds to our knocking on the door. The lift is also very slow and quite often catering people slip in it causing delays. So, it’s to the reception, where we always receive a nice welcome and the lift is called for us.
It’s only a short ride to the disabled platform W4, on arrival last Thursday I was pleased to see our usual steward on duty, Natalie who looks after us very well, sometimes we have a steward on a mobility scooter. Now this appears to be a good idea, but we must question how useful he is to disabled people.
The main concern is if there was to be a fire on the concourse there is no way he would be able to get out of the area without using the steps. We have also found him to be quite aggressive with the use of his scooter whilst manoeuvring around on the platform. He wasn’t there last Thursday so we had no issues.
The toilet for disabled people is clean; sometimes someone nips in for a cigarette but it is not radar key operated, so allowing general use if there are queues at the other toilets.
I don’t use the catering outlets as there does not appear to be a disabled till and the queues are manic at half time.
The game with Wigan as always is was exciting with the Warriors gaining revenge for the golden point defeat, we inflicted on them early in the season by beating us by a single point 15-14.
Losing so close to the end hurts but we stayed to applaud a great effort by the lads.
Leaving our platform, we said our goodbyes to the steward, again who does a wonderful job, and made our way to the lift.
Because we had stayed to applaud the team there was no queue at the lift and for a change when sky are there was no technicians carrying boxes of cables that fill the lift. As well as no able bodied people coming down from the top floor.
Back in the car park the stewards stand in front of your car stopping you moving, this is a good idea as it allows pedestrians to walk freely round the perimeter. If you wish to leave early, we were informed you must be back at your car no later than 20 mins into the second half thus meaning you miss a quarter of the game, surely ten minutes would be late enough.
Exiting the car park is a slow old job as quite often we are delayed leaving to allow the visiting buses to exit. We made it out eventually about 15 minutes after setting off.
A big delay is people who think they are important and don’t join the queuing system that’s in place.
Still I was home for my cocoa by 23:00 disappointed with the result but having enjoyed the game.
My points score for the KCOM for disabled people last Thursday was an 8 but at other games that could drop to as low as 5.
I hope you are finding it interesting the contrast between two disabled people who are in the same stadium in different areas, I am an east stand passholder and Brian a west stand passholder.
There are similarities though with the lift, the toilet, the catering and the entrance and egress from the stadium.
I welcome any comments and shares.