19 June 2011

Wide eyed and tickletless

I've always loved athletics. At 9 years old I became a Birchfield Harrier and was so proud to pull on the club colours. I was a decent enough sprinter and long jumper but obviously never made it to the big time although I did continue to run and jump until my late twenties.

My love for the thrills and spills of track and field has meant that I've attended many meetings at various stadia over
the years and since returning to the Midlands in 2001 that has become easier because of the amount of
meetings held at the NIA and Alexander Stadium.

When Manchester was awarded the Commonwealth Games for 2002 armed with a credit card and a large limit, I applied for tickets galore to watch the track and field and through the vagaries of the ballot was allocated none. I was disappointed to say the least but thought that when London was awarded the 2012 Olympic Games, justice would finally be done and I would achieve a life long held dream to watch the sport I love at an International Games in my own country and the city in which I lived for nearly 20 years.

It wasn't easy. First I discovered that in order to purchase a ticket my Mastercard was useless and so I applied and got a brand new shiny Visa card that I didn't really want. I poured through the timetable of events and chose the days when I wanted me and my two children to attend. I was careful, I knew I didn't stand a chance of getting tickets for the session when the Men's 100 meters would be run and in case I couldn't afford the prices for such a session. I stuck to the low end tickets and applied for quite a few.

Of course I knew weeks ago I hadn't been lucky in the ballot because no money had been taken from my card but on Friday I finally received the confirmation email that I had no tickets. I was informed of the second chance, first come first served for tickets that were still available and so I clicked through and examined what tickets could be obtained as long as I was sitting with my fingers on the send button at 6am later on this week. One session of two hours duration, cost of tickets £65 per person and plenty of others with 'good availibility' for tickets costing hundreds of pounds each. I cannot afford these. Not wanting to miss out on the Olympic experience for my self or for my children I thought well try for something else but there is precious little else and at prices that are not exorbitant. No availability at all for track cycling, diving or swimming.

So I've resigned myself to watching 2012 from my living room. What angers me
though is the little advert for 'one of our partners' within the email confirming the bad news. Thomas Cook, partner (read sponsor) still has lots of breaks available that are inclusive of tickets for all events. I bet they have. That's the rub, lots of 'partners' have been allocated thousands upon thousands of tickets to dish out as they feel fit and you can guarantee that there will be events at all venues at 2012 when empty seats will be conspicuous and conspicuous in their numbers because certain people lucky enough to have been allocated such tickets will be too busy enjoying the hospitality outside the stadium or because they just couldn't be bothered.

We get weasel words from Sir Seb Coe about how fair the ticket allocation was. Well no it wasn't. Like most ordinary people, I can't afford to be a 'partner' in order to secure a definite ticket because I'm not a multi-national company like McDonalds or Visa. I just have a love
of sport and in particular athletics, which I've supported as a paying fan for very many years. There are hundreds of thousands just like me. Large in numbers but with no voice.

The picture aside is of me with the big hair on the left with an athlete who ran at more than one Olympics; Pat Cropper. I was thrilled to meet her. It was taken in the hall of Redhouse School, Aldridge in July 1973. Pat was there to present us with the Runners Up Shield for the District Sports and me with my trophy for winning the District Pentathlon Competition. Innocent days.

1 comment:

  1. Not fair at all, a genuine grass-roots athletics fan can't get a single ticket. The handling of Olympic ticketing has been a national disgrace. Paul.