I'm characteristically fuming. At Saints. And not about last night's shambolic performance at Leeds. That was bad enough. Suffering through the ineptitude of Matty Dawson and Kyle Amor was enough to drive anyone over the edge, and when you add that to the embarrassing lack of effort on show from the likes of Luke Walsh you could easily start tearing up your season ticket before you have had a chance to think about it properly.
But no, the reason for my unfettered rage at our champion and completely tin-pot organisation is their policy on selling wheelchair accessible tickets for the Challenge Cup semi-final against Leeds at Warrington at the end of the month. I am a season ticket holder and have been since the club moved to Langtree Park in 2012. I'm pretty keen on all things Saints and rugby league. I also work very hard to promote both the club and the game by writing for an independent Saints website at least twice a week. So it was with some anticipation that I was checking the club's website daily this week for ticket information for the semi final against the Rhinos. Now keeping in mind that the club could not be contacted by phone this week as tickets were only available in person at the ticket office, this is what is written on the website in regards to ticket information for disabled supporters;
"Disabled (Wheelchair and Ambulant) are entitled to receive a complimentary carer's ticket upon production of valid ID. Disabled tickets are charged depending on age."
Now let's ignore the offensive and boring implication that all disabled fans need a carer, and focus on what that statement tells us about how to go about acquiring wheelchair accessible tickets. Does it say that they are not available from the club and that you should contact the RFL? Does it bollocks. And if it did say that, would it then explain why this should be? Why are disabled season ticket holders not afforded the same pre-sale rights as their able bodied counterparts? Do the powers that be at the clubs and at the RFL really consider it that much of a stretch to believe that a disabled season ticket holder would bother themselves to travel 20 minutes down the road for one of the biggest games of the season? If I didn't know better I would suggest that some suit full of shite at the RFL and Saints have looked at the DDA over a brew, decided what they need to do to comply with it to the bare minimum and gone out for a round of golf! It won't matter, they probably thought, nobody is actually going to try to turn up at the ticket office and attempt to buy a ticket. Fuck, why would they do that?
Anyone who has stuck by this column long enough may remember that something similar happened to me in my quest to get tickets for the Grand Final in October. The club threw it's hands up in the air and denied any responsibility for the sale of wheelchair accessible tickets and just directed me to the RFL. But at least they did so over the phone on that occasion. When I phoned the RFL they informed me that the only tickets available were in a 'neutral' area of the Old Trafford stadium. Quite when the definition of 'neutral' became 'right in the middle of the Wiganers' I'm not sure. We made the best of it and had an amusing exchange with a Wigan Walker near the end of the game, but if I'm being brutally honest I would rather have been in among the Saints fans on such a great day. I was denied this right despite being a season ticket holder and between them, the RFL and Saints seem to be trying to ensure that I am denied that right again for the Challenge Cup semi-final this year.
It's a shameful, shambolic encore to the tripe served up on the field by the team at Headingley last night.