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Woody Welcomes

  • Writer's pictureNatalie O'Rourke

Woody Welcomes Tottenham Hotspur

We have absolutely loved the World Cup break. There were so many twists and turns with some real upsets in terms of the higher-ranking teams being beaten or even taking a permanent early bath by being knocked out ahead of time. It was also brilliant to see some of our fabulous Brentford players joining their countries squads in Qatar, including Bryan Mbeumo for Cameroon, David Raya for Spain, and Saman Ghoddos for Iran (although, sorry about that 6-2 score line Saman). But most of all Woody and I loved watching England reach the quarter finals - the Lions certainly did us proud!

We have also crammed so much in away from the World Cup spectacle including being privileged to have launched my book ‘Only Heroes and Horses’ which chronicles our journey with Park Lane Stables. As you can see from this video Woody was super excited to see his Mum’s face in the bookshop window.   

It was also an honour to be presented with an MBE for services to people with disabilities. I went to Windsor Castle and was given the MBE by Prince William, The Prince of Wales. What a tremendous day.

We have barely had time to digest our Christmas dinner or unbox all the wonderful gifts we received yesterday before heading to the Gtech for the match against Tottenham today. But we could not be more excited if we tried. It has been a long fifty days since we last welcomed a Premier League team to our home, but today brings the challenge of Spurs. The Bees have not got a great track record against Tottenham, failing to take the three points in the last 11 meetings, so we are hoping for a little Boxing Day brilliance to secure that elusive win.  

Let us jump straight into some of the amazing schemes and stories of community and inclusivity from the team who live ‘just round the corner’.  

First up we wanted to recognise the amount Spurs do to ensure their fans can access the match day experience in a positive and meaningful way. The ‘Disability Access Scheme’ allows fans with a disability to navigate the ground and watch the game in comfort. From accessible entrances to viewing areas, Tottenham are making great strides in welcoming all supporters to their ground. One thing Woody really liked was their sensory suite. The suite caters for fans who have Autism or other sensory impairments. There is a bubble tube and tactile wall, and fans have the option of either watching the match from inside or outside the suite.   

Spurs also have their own Supporters Club for individuals with a disability called ‘SpursAbility’. This club works directly with the football club and their remit covers items such as providing a voice for fans for both home and away games, working alongside other team's support groups and ensuring the highest level of inclusivity by Tottenham.   

You can follow Spurs Ability on Twitter - @SpursDSA.  

We were saddened and then warmed by the story of Ella Markham and her dad, Mark. In 2019 Mark posted a video on Twitter of Ella dancing despite a defeat for Spurs against West Ham. Ella could be seen busting her moves in the video, but some people on the social media platform decided to level unbelievable abuse towards her. Mark stepped into action and challenged these trolls directly, even going as far as to post his own mobile number and asking those responsible to speak to him so they could understand the impact of their actions. Mark and Ella appeared on This Morning with Holly and Phil to raise awareness of the hate speech they had been subjected to.   

Enter Spurs superstar Harry Kane. After hearing about the experience Ella and Mark had, had, Harry personally invited Ella to be the matchday mascot for the closing game of the season that year against Everton. In the video Harry said,   

“We know you are a big fan. We would love you to come down and be the mascot for the last game of the season against Everton. Hope to see you there. Keep dancing, keep doing what you are doing. Lots of love.” 

What a boast for Ella and her dad. Ella got to see her beloved Spurs draw 2 – 2 with The Toffees, and make an amazing memory to last a lifetime.

Finally, we could not talk about Spurs without mentioning our very own Penguins Manager, Allan Cockram. Allan played for Tottenham from 1981 to 1985, he was also a Bee from 1988 to 1991, book ending the decade with stints at both clubs battling it out for the points today. Allan became passionate about setting up a football team for individuals with Down syndrome after meeting a friend's son who had DS in the early 90’s. Twenty years later, in 2017, Allan used his own money to finance the hiring of a community centre to begin his dream football club. Working with DSActive and the Brentford Community Sports Trust, the Penguins offer football coaching to people with Down syndrome and their families. Allan is an amazing human and we often welcome the Penguins to the stables for events and time with our wonderful team and horses.   

Here are more details about the fabulous Penguins:   

We are excited to be back, talking about the ways in which the Premier League are being inclusive, and we really look forward to highlighting more teams in 2023! In the meantime, we hope that you have a had a wonderful Christmas and that you can welcome in a happy and healthy New Year.  


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