John Terry disappointed fans yesterday by not attending the opening of a new Surbiton reptile shop, as previously advertised.
John Terry disappointed hundreds of fans yesterday by no-showing the opening of a Surbiton reptile shop he had been advertised to attend.
After waiting for hours, the large crowd outside Reptile Kingdom on Ewell Road, most of them children, were upset when it was announced Terry was not coming.
The incident comes amid accusations that Terry racially abused Anton Ferdinand during Chelsea’s defeat to Queen’s Park Rangers on Sunday, an allegation he denies.
Terrence Clark, who co-owns the store with Ryan Dunbar, said: “I’m really sorry for everyone who turned up.
“I’m sure he’s got his own reasons. Maybe one of them was something that happened on Sunday.”
Terry, however, denied he had agreed to attend.
A statement read: “I had been asked if I would consider the opportunity and declined on two separate occasions.
“Any advertising to say I would be attending was made without my knowledge or consent.
“I regret any distress or disappointment that may have been suffered by the public.”
Mr Clark, who knows Terry through a mutual friend, said: “I asked if he would do us a favour to get the wider community to know that we’re here.”
Chelsea fan Dick Puddephatt came with his grandson. He said: “I wouldn’t have thought he’d have let all these young people down.”
His grandson Tommy was hoping to get a Chelsea match-day programme signed by his hero but was left upset.
Chris Aylett, 28, of Surbiton, said: “I thought Terry might be able to redeem his past behaviour but it’s almost what we’ve come to expect.”
Local resident Ellen Jordan wanted Terry’s autograph for her partner’s birthday present next week.
Ms Jordan said: “I feel like he’s let the fans down. The children especially are going to be disappointed.”
Shop staff brought out snakes for people queuing up to pose with while they were kept waiting.
Dee O’Donnell, also of Surbiton, said: “I held one and it was beautiful, but I’m really choked that John Terry’s not turning up.”
Fatahi Onibugo, 56, has been supporting Chelsea since 1962 and came to take pictures with Terry.
Mr Onibugo said: “He’s got lots of commitments and, if he can’t make it, there’s obviously a reason. I suppose Sunday wasn’t much of a help.”
Sarah Kirk, who came with her son, said: “It doesn’t make him look good. Was it not important enough?
“It’s given the shop a bad name because it’s associated with John Terry not turning up.”
Mr Clark said Reptile Kingdom’s opening day was still a success despite many leaving once it was clear Terry would not appear.
They sold more than 15 snakes and 12 lizards, and even had a deposit placed on a £795 Green Tree Python.
“We’ve been absolutely busy and run out of a lot of products,” said Mr Clark.
“We’ve kept our promise – we left out free refreshments and had free face painting. We made sure all the kids were entertained.”
“That was important to us because we didn’t want to let anyone down.”