An all woman choir was given a police escort as they travelled to their Christmas concert after bungling officers mistook them for – football hooligans.
Two police motorbike riders with their blue lights flashing swooped on two coaches carrying 90 women, mostly pensioners, before ordering them to follow them for 10 miles.
Officers picked the coaches up after mistaking them for Chesterfield fans who were on their way to watch their team play League Two rivals Port Vale on Saturday afternoon.
The police riders repeatedly circled the coaches while they escorted the choir to Port Vale’s ground in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffs.
But their mistake was only realised when one of the officers boarded the coach where he apologised to the stunned members of the Staffordshire-based All Woman choir.
Liz Talbort, 38, who founded the 250-women strong choir 12 months ago, said: “It was hilarious really but a little embarrassing for the police.
“The women all thought it was a hoot, when the police officer walked onto the coach the ladies started singing Stoke City’s anthem ‘Why Delilah’ as a bit of a joke.
“Apparently the coaches carrying the real fans was held up as a result of the mix-up and ended up getting to the game 30 minutes late.”
The choir, which is made up around 250 women aged 18-80 from Staffordshire, were travelling to the Kings Hall in Stoke-on-Trent for a rehearsal ahead of their Christmas concert on Saturday when they were ordered to follow the police riders.
Gran-of-one Carol Mitchell, 68, a retired theatre manager who sings in the alto section of the choir was on one of the coaches when it was pulled over.
She said: “We were all looking forward to performing at the concert which was a sell-out and all our family and friends were going along.
“We were due to start rehearsing at the Kings Hall in Stoke at 2pm but before we got into the city we saw two police motorbikes scream past us with their lights on and sirens going.
“They indicated to the driver to follow them so while one went ahead the other rider brought up the rear while circling the coaches when he could.
“At first we thought there might have been some trouble in Stoke and maybe the police were giving us an escort to the concert hall for our safety.
“We realised something was amiss when the police took us past the turning for the Kings Hall and we approached Port Vale’s football ground.
“The women all started talking excitedly and one said ‘I bet they think we’re football hooligans because we’re in coaches’.
“One of the police riders stopped his bike and indicated to the driver to let him on – by this time we knew they’d obviously got the wrong coaches so we started singing ‘Why Delilah’.
“The poor policeman stood up at the front, looked at these rows of rows of mostly grannies wearing their dresses and he suddenly went white as a sheet.
“He just stood there and said ‘You’re not football fans are you.’
“He quickly apologised and got off the coach before making a few calls. We couldn’t help it, we all fell about.”
Due to the mix-up the women arrived at the Kings Hall an hour later but the concert went ahead that night as planned.
A spokesman for Staffordshire Police said: “A police motorcyclist was in the A34 area escorting fans’ coaches to Port Vale ahead of the team’s home match on Saturday.
“One coach that accepted the offer of an escort was actually on its way to a venue in Stoke town centre and, due to a miscommunication, was taken to Vale Park, a short distance away from the intended destination.
“Thankfully, the matter was taken in good faith and the coach only suffered a slight delay.”
Chesterfield went on to win the match 2-0.