|Stafford Withington with his chinchilla, Ronnie.|
by Nosher McQuelland
Stafford Withington, the area manager for Pets at Home, went to the first day of the Derbyshire versus Northants match at Queen's Park, Chesterfield. Mr. Withington, 51 years old, is a committee member of the Barmy Army and was indeed responsible for starting the famous chants "Oi Oi we are Barmy!" and "Paul Collingwood walks on water"©.
Nothing unusual you would have thought about a so-called cricket lover attending a match in the beautiful setting of the Queen's Park, but what was remarkable is that this was Mr. Withington's first ever game outside a test arena.
"I'd been hard at work organizing the Chinchilla display all morning. We've got a 2-for-1 offer coming up and Chesterfield is the pet rodent capital of the East Midlands. We knew we were going to be busy.
"I took a late lunch and wandered off into the park. It was amazing, there was a game going on that was like a cross between a village match, the kind you see when you're on the train or driving, and the last day of a test match which we never go to but I have seen on Sky Sports" Stafford told PDCC.
He wandered in to the historic ground expecting to see the boating pond and take a ride on the miniature train and thought it was a normal £15 entrance fee which he could (and did) claim back on expenses. He later discovered this was the first day of the Derbyshire Northants match and says he was pleasantly surprised. "I didn't recognise any of the players of course" said Stafford "but I might have seen Riki Wessels father play once."
It was quite similar to a test match he noted, as there was a bar and food on sale but no one was dressed as Elvis, nor was there any singing. In fact he was surprised how few people were at the match.
Stafford decided to return to Queen's Park the following day. Having no friends or colleagues who liked him Stafford had to go on his own. But this time he would bring the welcome spirit of the Barmy Army. In true style, Stafford took out a fancy dress suit from a previous Pets at Home sales promotion and had formed his own special chant "Come on Northamps [sic] don't be in the dumps. We've got Riki behind the Stumps."
Unfortunately the second day was a complete wash out and no cricket was possible.
Somewhat disheartened Stafford tried to get things going in his own comedy style. This was not appreciated by the Derbyshire staff and he was informed his presence was not welcome.
Committee member "This is not the kind of support or behaviour we want in Chesterfield."
Stafford Withington contacted PDCC to say he was through with anything other than test cricket hence forth. "I tried to get people to appreciate what cricket is all about, singing, dressing up and being boorish but no one wants to know outside the test arena."
Chinchillas are still on offer at 2-for-1 at Pets at Home, Chesterfield.