NUDSA took its first trip of the season to Manchester City on 20th January 2018. It wasn’t the usual early start for this game as it had been moved to a 5.30pm kick off, so 12 noon was a great time to set off and everyone was awake and ready to go. We had a large group of NUDSA Members going to the game, 9 wheelchairs users plus their support workers and also 25 Ambulant plus their support workers, so we had to have 2 coaches. One coach had 49 seats for our ambulant members plus NUFC Stewards, and 1 wheelchair accessible coach for our wheelchair users. We had learnt about the Premier League sponsoring a wheelchair accessible coach and decided to give it a go so we were the second Club to use the new Jumbulance.
The Jumbulance is for all Clubs to use and is based in the midlands. It can accommodate 5 static wheelchairs plus 22 seats for support workers and people who have difficulty getting on an ordinary coach. The Jumbulance also has a fully accessible toilet and a fridge and microwave and tea and coffee if you fancy bringing some food with you. Both the coaches arrived with plenty of time to get everyone on. The drivers on the day were brilliant on both coaches, the Jumbulance drivers were very knowledgeable about tying in wheelchairs and had the wheelchairs all tied in and ready to go very quickly.
The weather not been good in the days before but although it was very cold it wasn’t snowing anymore!!! We stopped at Hartside Services which is our usual stop when going to Man City but some of us were disappointed to see that the Cafe part is no longer there and only a Starbucks or Subway was the food option, so no nice lunch to fill up with. We arrived with plenty of time to spare and got everyone into the ground and in their seats. 2 of our wheelchair users had to sit in another area and Steve and Kyle volunteered for these seats and we found out afterwards they were upstairs beside the corporate and got waiter service for all their food and drinks, pretty sure they were pleased they had volunteered for these seats.
The match went as expected but we did get to celebrate a goal, and a very good one at that. We had given out our Guess the Score quiz on the bus and knew we would be looking at who scored and the attendance for the winner!! Although some of our members had put Newcastle to win!! Staunch and loyal supporters to the end.
My only grievance is how close we are to the Man City supporters on the ground level just in front of the wheelchair bays. There is only the aisle and a few Man City Stewards between the two sets of supporters who goaded each other all afternoon. We had to change seats with some of our Ambulant Members who were pushed and shoved all afternoon by our supporters. It meant we couldn’t really watch the game as there was constant friction between both sets of fans and lots of NUFC fans thrown out. The police did eventually come and police the aisle but not straight away. We all got back on busses very quickly and sorted out who had won Guess the Score as we thought nobody got it right. Also we had a Raffle on both busses for a Signed NUFC Football and sweets for the runner up on each coach. So all in all we had a great day out and everyone enjoyed the whole trip regardless of the score. We got back to Newcastle about 11.15pm and hadn’t needed to stop on the way back. Both our coach companies were brilliant and we thank Delta Coaches ( Middlesbrough) and the Jumbulance Trust for making our day great. NUDSA also thank NUFC for all their help with this trip and making it possible especially Jan, Dave and our NUFC Stewards Kev and Alan who made sure we were all safe in the stadium.
I would like to also thank our Committee Members who attended the trip and helped to get everyone on and off and not lose one member. You know who you are but I will name you Dilys, Lynne, Gareth, Amanda, Norman and Dawn. Thank You.
Looking forward to our next venture out hopefully this season.