London

Latest Mission

During the following 12 months I hope to visit all the 92 football grounds in the Premier League and Football League. I will not try to watch a match at all the grounds, but I do want to bask in the architecture of these differing stadiums and collect memorabilia to auction at the end of my tour.

The charity that I have chosen to benefit from my expedition is Level Playing Field – the working name of National Association of Disabled Supporters. Instead of spending time trying to explain the nature of this registered charity I will share their guiding principles that can be found on their excellent website at www.levelplayingfield.org.uk

Guiding Principles

Level Playing Field (LPF) believe that being a disabled person is a social issue and that an individual only becomes disabled because of the social, attitudinal and environmental barriers that the individual faces (this is known as the social model of disability).

Our efforts are focussed on removing these barriers in all sports. LPF and its members will know they have succeeded when all fans can enjoy an equal experience at live sports events:

  • all stadia and sports venues are fully accessible and inclusive;
  • all customer and/or fan services are equal and inclusive;
  • disabled people are seen as customers with a commercial value


We are guided by the following principles:

  • Anti-discrimination – so that disabled people do not face discrimination arising from poor or misinformed practice.
  • Equality of opportunity or making things fairer – for disabled people in every aspect of their contact with sports clubs and venues.
  • Increasing the independence and choices that disabled people have.
  • Individual needs / Diversity – recognising that a disabled person is an individual who, like all others, has his or her own needs, abilities, human rights and responsibilities.
  • Integration/inclusion – such that services are made accessible to disabled people and offer choice.
  • Involvement in decision-making – so that disabled people, and/or their advocates, are consulted before decisions which affect them are made.
  • The social model of disability explains that it is social and physical ‘barriers’ that cause ‘disability’ not impairments.

LPF is working to remove the barriers that currently exclude disabled people. These barriers can be:

  • prejudice and stereotypes
  • the way things are organised and run
  • little or no access to information, buildings and transport

To download a PDF of the Guiding Principles with footnotes please click here.

 To download a PDF copy of the LPF Governing Constitution click here.

I think you now get an idea of why I have chosen to support this charity. As a disabled person, I know that attending a football match every weekend and having involvement with like-minded fans through a DSA (Disabled Supporter’s Association) can make a big difference to people’s lives.  I want the money raised through this project to make a real difference by giving others the opportunity to attend matches and feel the same sense of inclusion that I feel every time I visit the Racecourse.

There is much planning to be done. Fortunately, I recently discovered Roadrunner Motorhomes which provides fully accessible accommodation on wheels.  It boasts a ceiling track hoist, profiling bed, toilet and wet room, which is all I need to make this epic adventure a reality.  I have booked the motorhome for the first week in October.  This will be ideal for visiting clubs based on the south coast and maybe a few more once I have worked out which are the best campsites to stay in.

For more information see: www.roadrunnermotorhomes.webs.com

I also need to set up an online sponsorship page for all you kind people to support me on my tour of England and Wales.  In addition I will also be booking the few hotels with the necessary equipment needed to transfer me from wheelchair to bed.  This will be needed in order to visit the London clubs and those based in south Wales and the North East.

I will be beginning my quest next week with trips to Wolverhampton Wanderers and Stoke City.  My trip to Wolves is to represent Wrexham DSA who have been invited to Molineux  to meet their counterparts in the West Midlands and foster a positive relationship with this group before enjoying their clash with Nottingham Forest.  My trip to the Britannia Stadium was organised with the help of Eddie Niedzwiecki after my friend Valerie Leney wrote to him to tell him about my 40th birthday.  He kindly got in touch with tickets for his side’s forthcoming game against Liverpool.

This venture will cost me a pretty penny at a time that disabled people are disproportionately feeling the full force of austerity measures. Subsequently, any individual or company that would like to help out with petrol costs, hotel fees and food bills then please do get in touch.

So, this is my latest escapade. There is much to organise and at times it is overwhelming, but if the money I raise helps just one disabled person attend football more regularly – subsequently increasing their sense of- self-worth – then it will have been a worthwhile venture…

Memory Match -15-10-63

Throughout the 2016/17 football season I will be contributing to the Wrexham AFC matchday programme. I will be penning a feature called Memory Match, a look back at classic Wrexham games from the past that I will share in this blog over the coming months. 

15-10-63

Brentford v Wrexham

League Division Three

Griffin Park

Result: 9-0

Brentford: Cakebread, Coote, Jones, Slater, Scott, Higginson, Summers, Brooks, McAdams, Ward, Hales

Goalscorers: McAdams (3, 18), Ward (8, 89), Fox (38 og), Hales (44), Brooks (54, 72), Summers (59)

Wrexham: Fleet, Jones, Holland, Morrall, Fox, Barnes, Griffiths, Myerscough, Phythian, Metcalf, Colbridge

Attendance: 10,569

 

Just 17 months after racking up our record League victory against Hartlepools United, it was time to rewrite history again at Griffin Park on a Tuesday night, albeit for less auspicious reasons. Wrexham began the game with the worst defensive record in the Third Division and 90 minutes later their “goals against” column had soared to 49 in just 14 matches.

Just six days previously at the Racecourse, Brentford had hit back from being 2-0 down to win 4-2. In London, Wrexham found themselves 2-0 down after only six minutes, but there was no sign of a fight back from a team that was short on confidence.

According to a special correspondent, writing in the Leader, “Not one Wrexham defender remotely approached a satisfactory performance. The tackling was weak, the positional play was poor and the marking was almost non existent. In short it was a pathetic display”.

I found it bizarre that the journalist that put together this match report also ponders whether a seven-hour coach trip is ideal preparation for a Football League fixture? I suppose roads were not as developed as they are now, but seven hours still seems a long time to reach the Capital.

The journey was a nightmare for goalkeeper Steve Fleet in particular, who suffered from travel sickness. The coach had to stop on two separate occasions for him to presumably throw up. This what not a good omen, but even with a shot stopper at peak fitness the scoreline would have been just as embarrassing due to a lack of cover and protection from absent defenders.

Wrexham’s forwards did not deserve to have such a poor defence behind them. Hard working Arfon Griffiths never stopped trying to take off some of the pressure and, with Ernie Phythian and Mike Metcalf, produced some neat approach play. However, mid-table Brentford’s defence, which was itself pierced five times at home by Bristol Rovers just three days previously, was now rock solid.

This was a night when the ball never stopped running for the Bees and they certainly made the most of their good fortune with every forward player scoring for them. They also profited from an own goal by Wrexham centre half Alan Fox.

Welsh international Dai Ward, signed overnight by Brentford for £8,000 from Watford, was the biggest individual threat to the Robins. He scored two of the goals and played a part in three others.

Perhaps it might have been a happier story if, with the score at 2-0, Phythian had scored instead of seeing his point-blank shot saved by Gerry Cakebread when all the odds were on a goal.

The special correspondent did not have the heart to go into detail about each Brentford goal. Instead, he simply noted the time of each goal in one harrowing paragraph.

Player-manager Ken Barnes said: “I cannot begin to explain away nine goals, but we were far too casual in defence. Something has got to be done about it.”

Nothing was done about it. This embarrassment was actually our fifth straight League defeat. This form was to continue for the next four League games as Wrexham ended up losing nine in a row. Prior to this they actually smashed fellow strugglers Barnsley 7-2 in a freak result. Things did not get better after Christmas and Wrexham were relegated back to the Fourth Division in 23rd position.

***

This wasn’t the first time we had conceded nine goals in a competitive fixture. Wolverhampton Wanderers knocked us out of the FA Cup on January 1931. We lost the third round clash 9-1.

 

Message of support to Jeremy Corbyn

A few weeks ago I emailed Ellen Clifford from Disabled People Against Cuts after she called for assistance with a report she is writing on the impact of the closure of the Independent Living Fund. The aim is in particular to highlight the problems people are experiencing, but also the post code lottery in the very different ways different LAs are handling the closure from ring-fencing to cuts. Ellen also wanted to highlight problems with the administration of social care and personal budgets by local authorities.

I was happy to help and volunteered to share my personal experiences since the cruel closure of the ILF over 12 months ago. In our emails, I discussed my dismay at the way the world is going with the EU debacle, Teresa May leading the Conservatives and the Labour Party in self-destruct mode instead of giving their support to their democratically elected leader.

Apparently, my email triggered something in Ellen’s brain – the need for a Disabled people’s rally in support of Jeremy Corbyn. A rally was quickly organised for deaf and disabled people to support Corbyn. Ellen wanted me to get to London as the idea for the event came from my email, but sadly I was unable to make it due to the short notice. Nevertheless, I still wrote a message of support for Jeremy Corbyn, which I have printed below and may adapt slightly to send to the local right-wing newspaper.

I am not sure if the message was read out or not. I will ask Ellen and report back, but it is good to be contributing to the good fight in some small way.

 

I just wanted to add my support for Jeremy Corbyn from my base in north Wales. I am sorry I cannot be there this evening but I am their in spirit with the rest of my comrades. It is difficult to sum up how important this new brand of inclusive politics is to those of us who often feel abandoned and isolated on the edges of a cruel right-wing society.

I have been particularly hurt by the closure of the Independent Living Fund as I have a progressive disability that means my needs will increase over time. I am still stuck with the same limited hours of care that I was given six years ago with little hope of receiving an increase in the near future. This often means being left alone during the afternoon which can lead to numerous accidents through no fault of my own. I shouldn’t have to live like this and I am doing all I can to ensure that no one has to suffer such indignities and barriers to independent living.

This is our chance to make far-reaching changes in our society and the vast majority of the disabled community support Jeremy Corbyn to deliver this positive change, as you have supported us in our countless battles against the Tories. We will return that loyalty and support you until the end. You can count on that.

Finally, I would like to thank Mr John McDonnell and your good self for providing disabled activists such as myself with the hope. Hope that we can defeat the Tories, hope that we can build a fairer society and most of all the hope that one day we can achieve full equality under a new type of politics.

Thank you.

Nathan Lee Davies

Fleet and Free by Joshua Billingham

On September the 23rd, I was darting around north Birmingham searching for the fibreglass owls that make up The Big Hoot trail. One I found was number 70: Fleet and Free by Joshua Billingham. THIS WAS THE FINAL OWL OF MY BIG HOOT TRAIL. MISSION COMPLETE.

Visit my Virgin Money Giving page and please give generously in aid of Birmingham Children’s Hospital

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Joshua Billingham (a.k.a ‘Gent 48′) is an illustrator, graffiti writer and street artist from Birmingham. He studied visual communication at BIAD Birmingham University, receiving a first class degree.

As well as working as a freelance illustrator, he exhibits artwork and paints murals for all types of businesses and private homes.  His work consists mainly of imaginative characters and strange worlds.

He has worked and exhibited in many countries across the world, including Australia, Germany, Denmark, Scotland, Ireland, Finland and London. This summer, he is due to paint at a number of festivals across Europe and hopefully Tahiti – showcasing his spray painting skills.  He is the founder of the Birmingham ‘Graffiti Crew 48’ and also represents ID Crew London and SDM Crew Melbourne.

Visit my Virgin Money Giving page and please give generously in aid of Birmingham Children’s Hospital

Saltley Stories by McNally and Galsinh

On September the 23rd, I was darting around north Birmingham searching for the fibreglass owls that make up The Big Hoot trail. One I could not find was number 77: Saltley Stories by Martin McNally and Sharonjeet Galsinh.

Visit my Virgin Money Giving page and please give generously in aid of Birmingham Children’s Hospital

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As you can see I visited the site of owl number 77, Saltley Stories by Martin McNally and Sharonjeet Galsinh, to find that it was missing after being vandalised. There was nothing I could do about this so I simply cursed the vandals and took a picture of the spot on which the owl originally stood. For more information click on this link to the Birmingham Mail article on the story.

Martin McNally has a degree in Fine Art from the University of Southampton (Winchester School of Art) and continues to practice with personal projects and exhibitions. His work has been seen in diverse locations such as Battersea, London and various community projects around Birmingham. He is the Projects Officer at Reel Access.

Sharon Galsinh is a Birmingham-based artist with a passion for arts, photography, graphic design and anything creative. She studied photography and graduated with a degree in graphic design. She is also an experienced mehndi artist.

Reel Access is a Birmingham based film education and training organisation with a focus on community filmmaking.

Norton Hall Children & Family Centre is a registered charity and voluntary organisation supporting children, parents and families in East Birmingham.

www.reelaccess.org.uk

www.nortonhall.org.uk

Visit my Virgin Money Giving page and please give generously in aid of Birmingham Children’s Hospital

The Big Hoot Saltley Stories which has been vandalised.

The Big Hoot Saltley Stories which has been vandalised.

 

Hedwig Owl by Michelle Heron

On September the 21st, I was dashing around north Birmingham searching for the fibreglass owls that make up The Big Hoot trail. One I found was number 66: Hedwig Owl by Michelle Heron.

Visit my Virgin Money Giving page and please give generously in aid of Birmingham Children’s Hospital

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Michelle Heron is a painter based in London. When she’s not painting owls, Michelle has special interest in depicting seemingly ordinary and mundane scenes that are often overlooked.  Many of her paintings stem from the disappearance of socially and historically important buildings and her love of vintage signs and shop fronts.  Michelle has designed and painted sculptures for similar public art events in London.

Website: www.michelleheron.co.uk

Visit my Virgin Money Giving page and please give generously in aid of Birmingham Children’s Hospital

Spotting and Jotting in Birmingham by Matt Sewell

On September the 21st, I was dashing around north Birmingham searching for the fibreglass owls that make up The Big Hoot trail. One I found was number 63: Spotting and Jotting in Birmingham by Matt Sewell.

Visit my Virgin Money Giving page and please give generously in aid of Birmingham Children’s Hospital

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Globally acclaimed artist, author and illustrator, Matt Sewell, from Shrewsbury, has been described as the ‘Banksy of the bird world’!  Matt has always experimented with different canvases, including T-shirts, posters, interiors and walls, and he now adds owl sculptures to his repertoire!

He has illustrated for the Guardian newspaper and Barbour (amongst many others), painted underpasses for the RSPB, and exhibited in London, Manchester, New York, Tokyo and Paris – as well as being an avid ornithologist and regular contributor to the Caught by The River website (he also designed their logo).  He was formerly an artist in residence on BBC Two’s hit show, Spring Watch.

Matt has illustrated and written a series of bird-themed books, including Our Garden Birds, Our Woodland Birds and his latest book, Owls – our most enchanting bird, which is all about his fabulous, eagle-eyed friends.  It sold 7,000 copies in its first week!

Website: www.mattsewell.co.uk

Visit my Virgin Money Giving page and please give generously in aid of Birmingham Children’s Hospital