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When football mascots go bad: Rogues' gallery of furry suits

The Exploding Heads delve into the often overlooked aspect of football, the mascots and their emotions.

Mascots were back in the news recently when the man inside the suit of Watford's own Harry the Hornet announced his shock resignation.

The giant insect of Vicarage Road's decision is just the latest in a long line of controversies involving club mascots.

Here, the Toe Poke takes a look at some of the most notorious from down the years.

Harry the Hornet

Watford mascot Harry the Hornet caused controversy for taunting Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha
Watford's Harry the Hornet is just about the last target you would expect Roy Hodgson to have a pop at.

Watford's mascot recently hit the headlines after being labelled "disgraceful" by Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson before a Premier League meeting between the two sides.

The animosity dates back to 2017, when Harry incurred the wrath of Sam Allardyce, Hodgson's predecessor at Palace, for openly mocking Wilfried Zaha after the winger was booked for diving at the end of a fractious match at Vicarage Road.

Hodgson then offered a scathing rebuke of Harry's conduct before Palace's trip to Watford at the end of August, warning that a repeat of the provocative behaviour witnessed two years prior would not be tolerated.

Thankfully, Harry managed to behave himself as his side ran out 2-1 winners, though he couldn't resist a cathartic victory dive in front of the home fans after the final whistle.

However, the shock news came after the game when Gareth Evans, the man inside the Hornet suit, announced with a "heavy heart" that he was hanging up his stinger and stepping aside after 10 years in the job.

But Watford fans were not to be denied their mascot, and a new person donned the suit for the club's next match.

Wolfie the Wolf

Despite the entirely unimaginative name, Wolfie the Wolves' mascot will live on forever in mascot infamy thanks to his behaviour during an away game against Bristol City in November of 1998.

Having presumably failed to heed to the inherent fairy tale warning, Bristol allowed Wolfie (who had travelled down with the Wolves team) to share the Aston Gate pitch with three little pigs, all of whom were brand mascots for sponsors Coldseal windows.

During half-time, a penalty shootout took place for young fans though it quickly descended into chaos as Wolfie and the pigs came to blows over a "stolen" football.

Stewards had to break the warring factions apart (assisted by City Cat, Bristol's club mascot) before all were eventually ejected from the ground.

A spokesman for Coldseal later blamed the incident entirely on the big bad wolf, branding him "a known troublemaker" in a statement released after the game.

Unperturbed the scuffle, Wolfie defiantly chose to emerge from the Molineux tunnel to the Rocky theme music before Wolves' next home match.

Cyril the Swan

Swansea City's Cyril The Swan and Millwall's Zampa The Lion came to blows on the pitch
Cyril the Swan of Swansea City (left) has a fair claim at being the most controversial mascot in football.

Cyril proved to be an instant hit upon his arrival at Swansea in 1998, with merchandise flying off the shelves at the club shop and a novelty Christmas single ("Nice Swan Cyril") shifting more units than it had any right to do.

Unfortunately, as his popularity grew, so did's Cyril's reputation for aggro. Indeed, his first transgression came just months after his debut for the Swans, during an FA Cup tie against Millwall.

The feathered fowl invaded the pitch and was subsequently charged with bringing the game into disrepute. Swansea contested that Cyril wouldn't be able to defend himself at the FA hearing because "swans can't talk" and duly found themselves on the receiving end of a £1,000 fine.

Alas, Cyril failed to learn his lesson as the roguish behaviour continued, culminating in him quite literally knocking the block off Millwall mascot Zampa the lion and booting it into the crowd during a match at Vetch Field in 2001.

H'Angus the Monkey

Hartlepool mascot H'Angus the monkey
H'Angus is surely the only monkey to be both a football club mascot and mayor of the same town.

Despite a chequered past that includes various fines and suspensions, physical attacks on cameramen and being thrown out of Scunthorpe's stadium for simulating sex during a half-time prize draw, H'Angus somehow went on to carve out a career in local politics.

Yes, you read that correctly.

Stuart Drummond, the man inside the monkey suit, ran for Mayor of Hartlepool in 2002 on a manifesto that included, among other things, free bananas for schoolchildren.

He was elected that May and, much to everybody's surprise, continued to win mayoral re-election three times in a row thereafter, remaining in office until 2013 when the role was abolished.

Deepdale Duck

With Preston rock bottom of the league and facing a tough home time against Derby, it was their mascot, Deepdale Duck, who took it upon himself to fire the players up.

Deepdale began by interrupting prematch television broadcasts, stopping BBC reporter Mark Clemmit in his tracks at least twice while he attempted to discuss the recent dismissal of Darren Ferguson after less than a year in charge of the Lilywhites.

Later on in the second half, Derby 'keeper Stephen Bywater was actually forced to complain to the referee after being constantly goaded by a giant duck who has taken up station behind his goal.

As the tensions began to escalate, Deepdale Duck was removed from the stadium by stewards for his own safety amid a hail of jeers from the fans.

The next weekend, in a show of solidarity with his incarcerated colleague, Sheffield United's mascot Captain Blade appeared before his side's match against Doncaster holding aloft a protest placard that read "Free the Preston One".

Bertie Bee

He may look like a cuddly bumblebee, but Burnley mascot Bertie is among the very few football mascots to actually serve jail time.

Rather than fighting or provoking opposition fans, the Clarets' mascot wound up behind bars in 2013 for the heinous crime of offering a pair of imaginary spectacles to the linesman on duty during a game against QPR.

Bertie's gesture was taken as a hostile suggestion that the assistant many need a little additional assistance with his eyesight and as such, he was escorted down the tunnel and slung into a holding pen under the stands at Turf Moor.

There's a joke about "bad beehive-iour" in there somewhere.

Kingsley

The year was 2015, and a terrifying new presence was unleashed upon Scottish football -- a presence that remains to this very day.

We are of course talking about Partick Thistle's terrifying club mascot Kingsley, the jagged, scowling, nightmarish creation of Turner Award-nominated artist David Shrigley.

In fairness to Partick's menacing mascot, he's not actually been found guilty of any harrowing crimes against humanity, beyond haunting its dreams, to date.

Not yet, anyway.

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