A Sheffield man with a life-threatening illness has been denied tickets to watch his beloved football team, despite it possibly being one of the last opportunities to watch a match with his son.
David Garforth, 52, from Todwick rang the Sheffield Wednesday ticket office to purchase seats in the disabled section with hopes of taking his father, an amputee under palliative care for cancer, to what could be his last game.
David’s father Richard, 79, from Eckington, is wheelchair bound having had his leg amputated around six years ago, and has currently just finished a round of radiotherapy for brain cancer.
So, David decided to surprise his father, who is a life long Sheffield Wednesday fan, with tickets but was left disheartened when he was turned away.
David said: “I thought it would be a nice thing to tick off his bucket list, he’s got an MRI scan at the end of October to see how long he’s got left.
“He’s not a well man. I wanted a father and son day, time is precious and we all know he’s going to deteriorate.
“He's the first to admit he’s not a hardened supporter, but he’s followed them all his life.
“He was a singer so couldn’t get to many games because he worked at the weekend, but he went to some away games.”
David says he was asked if he had purchased tickets to any recent games, to which he said no, and was then told he could not buy tickets.
And, despite explaining the situation and that it might be the ‘last opportunity Richard feels well enough to go’, David was again told no.
The ticket office explained that some Leeds United fans were trying to purchase tickets in the home area, to which David pointed out he was in fact a Leeds fan himself, but that he wanted to bring his ill and disabled father to the game.
It was then David said he had lived in Sheffield all his life, only to be told that he should support a Sheffield team.
“If they’d have said that tickets were sold out, I would have left it,” David added. “Even if they he said they would go away and have a chat about it, and then come back and said there’s nothing we can do.
“It was just a blatant disregard with no explanation. It was more about the experience and to see the look on his face.
“He said it would have been great to go, he’s not one for attention and doesn't ask for a lot.”
Sheffield Wednesday have said there are strict segregation policies in place for the fixture against Leeds on the advice of South Yorkshire police.
They say as part of the policy, visiting supporters are to be housed in the West Stand only and 'under no circumstances’ anywhere else in the stadium.
In addition to this, anyone purchasing tickets for the game must have been on the club’s database ‘in any one of the previous nine years’.
Sheffield Wednesday are at home next Wednesday against West Bromwich Albion, and they say the criteria is not as stringent as a derby fixture, so they would be ‘more than happy’ to welcome both Richard and David to Hillsborough.