Our middle one discovered there could be proper rules for throwing frisbees while he was at secondary school, but it wasn’t until he was at university that he took up playing “Ultimate” seriously.
And it wasn’t until this weekend that I made the time to go and watch. I took with me our youngest – who also plays, though not quite as keenly – to explain the rules to me.
The venue was in Nottingham, on playing fields alongside the River Trent. There was a strong wind, overcast skies and splattering of rain. Not the ideal weather for either playing or spectating. The two of us caught the train to Beeston and cycled to the venue for the afternoon. Three hours of a weekend-long tournament was enough for me, given the weather!
The most notable element is refereeing. They don’t have one. Infringements are self-accepted, or occasionally challenged, debated and a concensus reached. Very adult and civilised.
Otherwise it came across to me more like large scale netball (stand still when you’ve holding the ball/disc) with ends in which to score rather than hoops. There’s more about it here. I can see why people are attracted to it – but it didn’t make me immediately wish to take up the sport…
We cycled back to Beeston station but the train was packed with people who’d presumably been shopping in Nottingham. We weren’t able to squeeze on, and had to watch the train leave without us.
Luckily I have cousins living not far from the station and we took the opportunity of a half-hour catch-up. One of Paul’s major news items related to Nottingham train station.
Like Derby, Sheffield and, I’m told, York, Nottingham had a footbridge route through the station which not only allowed passengers to leave on either side, but which the public could use to cross the railway.
As part of the current train operating contracts, the government has sought to clamp down on ticket evasion by requiring stations to be gated. As a result the path through Nottingham station was subject to a temporary closure, while a permanent closure was sought. The route was a Public Right of Way and the closure was challenged by the Ramblers Association and others. Paul was involved in the campaign and further information on this is available on his website.
His news was that the Planning Inspector had recently decided not to allow a permanent stopping up order. What will happen next? We wait to see!
In Derby a similar situation is managed by staff allowing access across the station bridge on request. This was negotiated with the council, as although the route is not a Public Right of Way, the bridge was extended with public funding to provide access to and from Pride Park. In Sheffield there are plans to build a whole new footbridge not connected to the station. I don’t know about York.
But why is this happening? It seems to me that the requirement to gate stations has been a knee-jerk reaction to the problem of people travelling with tickets. Reducing ticket evasion is fair and important, but is gating stations the right answer? As more and more tickets are computer printouts or smartphone screens it also means that all the gates need to be staffed to allow all the exceptions to the standard ticket to be examined.
If the franchise agreements had not been so prescritive, would better solutions than gates have been proposed? Solutions that would both allow friends to bid farewell on the platform and allow local people to continue to use the bridges without challenge?
Is this an example of Labour micro-managing the railways?