Luton Town are pleased to support the 2018 Level Playing Field (LPF) Weeks of Action. This annual initiative, now in its 13th year, aims to celebrate access and inclusion for disabled sports fans across England and Wales.
Disabled people constitute the largest minority group at around 15 per cent of the population, and this number is increasing year on year. Naturally, a large number of disabled people are football fans too and we are pleased to take this opportunity to thank our own disabled fans for their continued loyalty and dedication to this great club.
This year we are celebrating the matchday experience for disabled fans. We want to shine a light on the positives of attending a live matchday and in turn help remove those barriers and promote a culture of accessibility and inclusiveness within sport.
Luton Town Disabled Supporters’ Association secretary Allan Drummond, second from the right in the picture below, gave us this account of his matchday supporting the Hatters at Kenilworth Road.
Allan said: “As someone with eyesight rated at around five per cent of useful vision compared to those with 20/20 vision, my matchday experience takes a little bit more planning than others.
“For home games I have a routine where the morning starts with checking the Hatters Vision bookings and emailing the list off to the ticket office, then it’s the mad hunt for my season ticket, which I obviously put in a safe place – so safe I forgot!
“My son and I then get the bus and head towards the Oak Road, but have to do a quick detour to the Maple Road reception to pick up the Hatters Vision receiver.
“The Oak Road provides an amazing atmosphere, with often amusing exchanges of sardonic wit with the away following. It doesn’t really matter where we sit (stand) as I cannot see much of what is on the pitch anyway, so this is where I rely on the fantastic commentary and description of what is happening from iFollow Hatters commentator Simon Pitts.
“A few things I find tricky are the small steps in the Oak Road end, and if it’s raining, getting to and from the ground causes me issues with glare and bright lights, as my eyes are very photo-sensitive. Obviously seeing anything in detail on the pitch, and finally having to cope when we don’t win by at least six goals each game!
“That said, the atmosphere, being able to say “I was there”, experiencing the emotion, trauma and joy, I would not do without regardless of my poor eyesight.”
One man who had a special matchday experience with his beloved Hatters last Saturday is Nicky Toone, one of the stars of the Luton Town Men’s Disability team.
As you can see from the main picture and the one directly above, Nicky – who helps the coaching staff at the training ground every Thursday – was invited by Nathan Jones and the team to join them on the coach to Cambridge United.
Nicky enjoyed a pre-match meal with the team, spent time in the dressing room as the players prepared for the match before checking the pitch with them and then heading to the boardroom, where he joined the club’s directors to watch the 1-1 draw from the Abbey Stadium’s directors’ box.
This Weeks of Action campaign we are joining together with sports clubs, fans and organisations across England and Wales to celebrate the #OurMatchday to not only promote the positive experience had by disabled fans but also the message of access and inclusion for all.
As part of Luton Town’s ongoing commitment to improving access for our disabled supporters, we have recently installed Induction Loop Systems at a range of LTFC venues.
The loops help amplify sound in hearing aids, therefore making it easier for hard of hearing supporters to hear more clearly when using the club’s facilities.
This service is now available in both club shops (at Kenilworth Road and the Mall), the Ticket Office and the main reception. For users, this can be found by changing the setting on your hearing aid to the T position and can be used in areas where the sign above can be found.
Alternatively you may wish to send a message of support to @lpftweets on Twitter using the hashtag #OurMatchday
We continue to work closely with our own Disabled Supporters’ Association and should you wish to contact them about any relevant issues then please email LTDSA@lutontown.co.uk