DISABLED Pompey fans have received a match day boost after a new initiative was launched to give them a free hot drink at every home game.
Up to 60 fans are now being treated to a cup of tea or coffee to help warm them up and cheer on Pompey.
The idea to give something back to disabled fans, who turn out in force in freezing conditions, was first introduced by Pompey Supporters Trust over Christmas when they were given free mince pies and hot drinks.
But now the move has been rolled out to make it a permanent feature after the overwhelming support it received from supporters.
‘We first started the scheme for Christmas about three years ago and then started to think we should do it all year round,’ trust chairman Simon Colebrook said.
‘After a meeting with the club it was decided we could go ahead and provide free hot drinks to all 60 or so disabled supporters thanks to our volunteers.
‘We started offering them drinks recently and will continue to do so for the rest of the season and beyond. When the hotter weather comes we will offer them bottled water as an alternative.’
Simon added: ‘At the moment the initiative will only include drinks but further down the line we may see if it’s possible to do anything else to improve things on match days.’
Pompey disabled fans previously said the facilities they had to endure at Fratton Park were ‘embarrassing’ with them in danger of becoming the ‘forgotten fans’ of the club.
Founder of Pompey Disabled Supporters Association Sam Piggott told The News last year there was nowhere near enough spaces for disabled fans while some areas were totally inadequate.
But now Basher Benfield, chairman of Pompey’s Disabled Supporters Association, has praised the new initiative.
He said: ‘It is a tremendous idea by the trust and we are very grateful. It has gone down really well, especially on a cold day.
‘Some fans come from a long way and watching the match on a Saturday might be their only outing of the week so it’s important to be able to enjoy the experience.
‘Giving out free hot drinks is a nice touch especially for those who aren’t mobile or don’t have a carer with them and, therefore, can’t go to the kiosk.
‘While improvements still need to be made at Fratton Park we give our compliments to the trust and the club.’
The Pompey Trust is holding an open meeting for fans to voice their opinions on any matters of interest on February 15 at the club.