Last weekend the Clifton boys (Daniel, Troy, Kurt, and I) got together for a Brothers weekend. The schedule was full and we had a great time; Club Swizzle at the Opera house on Saturday, cricket on Sunday, and golf on Monday. Those of you who know us might not be surprised to hear that we almost got thrown out of the SCG. It’s a story worth sharing.
The game was a sold-out ODI, Australia playing Sri Lanka. We left home later then we should have (after being sidetracked by the movie Hot Fuzz), and so arrived a couple of overs late – just in time to see David Warner out for nine.
Now, it’s a well-known fact that people with a disability have no friends, so even though we’d purchased tickets months before, we were unable to get seating together. I was allowed a single carer in the disabled section, and two other tickets were allocated in the stands nearby. Upon arrival, however, we discovered that the disabled section was relatively empty, and had plenty of spare seats. We thus took the opportunity to sit together.
We did have one wheelchair neighbour, a young lady with her mother. About 10 minutes after we arrived, the mother came over and asked me how I managed to get tickets for three able-bodied people. When I told her that we didn’t – that we’d just taken empty seats – she went on to tell of her story. She’d had the same problem with us when purchasing tickets for herself and two daughters, one of whom was now seated in the stands on her own. Apparently, they’d arrived relatively early to find a bunch of empty disabled seating, and so sat together awaiting the start of the cricket. Not long before the first over was to be bowled, they were approached by an officious female employee of the SCG trust, who told them that because they didn’t have the appropriate ticket, they could not use the additional seat. The daughter was thus directed to the stands on her own. Mum was justifiably upset – promising never to come to the cricket again.
I suggested that we’d had similar problems in the past, and that the key was to stand your ground. She wasn’t convinced, but the cricket was on, so we all turned our attention to the game.
15 minutes later, we were approached by (presumably the same) female employee of the SCG trust. She proceeded to tell us that two of our party needed to vacate the disabled section and proceed to the allocated seats. We politely pointed out that the disabled section was empty (apart from a bunch of nondisabled people standing there but, for some reason, not being evicted), and that should anybody else with a wheelchair arrive, we would immediately relocate. This wasn’t good enough, however. She insisted that we move. We repeated our argument, and refused to move, and she repeated her insistence, and threatened to have us expelled from the grounds. We ignored her, and went on watching the game.
A few minutes later we were approached by two police officers, and the conversation was had once again. The police officers were clearly uncomfortable, but stated that if we refused to comply, we would be expelled from the cricket ground. I asked whether they really would throw out a disabled wheelchair user for such a stupid rationale, and he replied that he would have no choice. When the woman’s back was turned, he told us under his breath that although he believed we were in the right, he would be obliged to do as she requested.
At this point we noted that the otherwise allocated seats had been taken by someone else – that they would need to be moved on before we could relocate. Also, I insisted upon going above her head – I wanted to speak to her manager. By now the situation had become absurd, and the woman and the two police officers retreated; presumably to talk strategy.
A few minutes later we were approached by another SCG officer. He informed us that none of the other seats in the disabled section had been booked, and that we’d be welcome to use them until another person with a wheelchair arrived. Good solution, we said.
We also mentioned our neighbour’s difficulties, and so he went to speak to her. A few minutes later, with her two daughters now seated together, mum came over and thanked us.
It turned out to be a great game of cricket. Glenn Maxwell scored 100 runs in 51 balls, and Australia hit 372 runs. Sri Lanka made a good effort of the run chase, but fell short. We had a great afternoon and evening because lots of runs were scored, Australia won, and we’d been able to enjoy together.