Behind the mascot: Harry The Hoopo (Queens Park)

In a previous article I discussed Football Mascots. Today I bring you an interview with the Queens Park Mascot – Harry the Hoopo.

How long have you been mascot?

Five years I think. It was one of those ‘bucket list’ things but as there wasn’t a big queue for the job, I ended up doing it all the time. I wanted to help out at the club and the fact that this was a crazy job, suited me down to the ground.

I’ve probably got another year or two of my daughter thinking I’m a hero before she is old enough to realise I’m just a sad old man in a costume.

It was a Homer Simpson moment when I was asked to do it.

“Why don’t you go and talk it over with your family?”

“Because they might say no.”

 What’s your match day routine?

When I first arrive I check to see if there is a ‘child mascot’ and if so its photo time. Unless- as in 50% of cases- the kid is terrified of me in which case I go for a walk to see if there’s a ‘crowd’ yet.

I always speak to security first- especially if there are any new guys there.

Walking through the tunnel at half time and telling a new security guy that “I’m here to do the hippo” is asking for a tasering. Most of them know me by now but I’ve noticed that since Neil Lennon got that letterbomb (coincidence?) I’ve had a security minder to walk along behind me while I greet the crowd.

How hot is the suit and how much can you see out of it?

I see out of the nostrils but there’s a limited vision.

It’s usually okay but when the sun is out it can get pretty hot. After a mascot race it’s pretty unbearable (I was practically fainting while I was getting my picture taken with you).

 Which games do you look forward to mascoting?

Whatever anyone’s opinion is of Rangers is, they’ve certainly livened up the third division this season and with the ‘added entertainment’ at the half-time intervals, they would have been my personal favourites. I shook Charles Green’s hand at one point, though I tell everyone it was “hoof on hoof”.

As long as someone wants a high-five, it keeps me busy. It has been known for no-one to come down and say hello. Then they probably expect me to dance, but I usually just go and speak to one of the players on the bench.

 What was your first game like?

I was introduced to the suit by the guy who originally had the job (and has since run to the hills- Hi Craig).

I was told I might be needed in the members lounge as there were some ‘special guests’. I was petrified, particularly as this was a match against Raith Rovers and I knew life-long fan Gordon Brown was in the area. Still don’t know if it was a wind up but it didn’t happen.

My main worry was that the head would fall off or worse that the shorts would fall down (still my biggest worry). The head I can deal with. The shorts- I wouldn’t know if they’d fallen down aside from the cries of “It must be a lady hippo”.

Do you have any mascot rivals?

The guys I’ve met have been great characters and the whole idea of the mascots is to present a ‘sporting aspect’ to proceedings so it’s always good natured. No hatred or serious rivalry. Except in the mascot race of course where you’d step over your own grandmother to grab the glory.

The best mascot I’ve encountered would be the guy in the Irn Bru can who had us all in stitches with his crazy dances and walks. He made me look sane.

Queens Park are amateurs so if a big team came in and offered you a huge salary would you mascot for them?

On the Simpson’s the ‘Capital City Goofball’ mascot is a multi-millionaire so there must be big money out there but I’m Queens Park though and through so I can’t be bought. Do they have mascot scouts? There was a guy in a squirrel costume in the stands recently and I did wonder.

 What’s the highlight of your mascot career?

Meeting a friend of mine who had no idea it was me in the costume. I kept going up to him and saying his name and reeling off stuff I knew about him. I waited a month before I told him it was me.

Other than that the mascot race shown on EPSN would be hard to top.

The worst time would be around Christmas a couple of years ago. I’d bought a big bag of sweets to give out to the kids as they came through the turnstiles. My act of playing Santa backfired spectacularly as one of the Raith Rovers youth teams arrived, grabbed the bag and legged it. I stood there helpless.

Do you think Queens Park will go up this year?

YES

As a comedy website – a couple of quick questions

Favorite joke?

The favourite joke I perform on the circuit as my alter-ego Fred Spanner is probably not repeatable on this website.

A more suitable one might be – I was playing a board game last week and accidentally swallowed one of the dice. It came out as a ‘number 2’.

Tim Vine’s – I told him I was the brother of River Phoenix. He said “you must be Joaquin” is a pretty good one.

Who do you prefer – Kevin Bridges/Billy Connolly?

I met Kevin just before he hit the big time when we were both on at The Stand in Edinburgh. Seemed a nice guy. Both are class acts. Hard to call but Billy would just edge it. Eddie Cassidy is heading in the right direction and is my tip for the top.

Queens park are in the division 3 play off’s this season so check out http://www.queensparkfc.co.uk/and come along for a game!

Football Mascots

In a recent article http://scottishcomedyfc.com/2013/04/10/iain-todd-reports-from-queens-park-v-rangers/ I said that the Queens Park Mascot had come last in a mascot race. He didn’t. He won the race!

Which is the biggest sporting misreporting since The Sun Splashed on their front page that Paul McStay was signing for Rangers. Later that day he re-signed for Celtic.

Mascots originate from the 1966 world cup when England created the first Mascot for a major tournament. His name was World Cup Willie [No Sniggering at the back of the class] Unlike  today’s mascot’s he only appeared as a cartoon on World Cup merchandise. The Willie theme was kept for the next major tournament in the UK – the London Olympics. The mascot looked like a cock.

Lets look at some of the more unusual mascot stories:

Derby County (Rammie the Ram) – The first Club to have a full time mascot. He warms the crowd up before the match and encourages them during it. During the week he tours schools and does charity work.

Preston North End (Deepdale Duck) – The first mascot to be sent off during a game. Such was the bird’s protest that he had to be dragged from his post by his wings.

Swansea City’s mascot (Cyril the Swan) – The first mascot to attack another mascot. During a match with Millwall (Zampa the Lion) a scuffle broke out between the pair resulting in Cyril beheading Zampa. He then proceeded to drop kick the head into the crowd. Cyril was fined £1000 after the game to repay the damage he had done.

Aston Villa (Hercules) – The first mascot sacked for Sexual assault. During a warm up Hercules grabbed one of the club’s cheer leaders around the waist and tried to plant one on her in front of thousands at Villa Park. The lion claimed it was “just a bit of fun”, but sadly for him the club though otherwise.

Hartlepool (H’Angus the monkey) – The first mayor mascot. The name is derived from the tale of monkey hanging way back in the Napoleonic wars, when the good people of Hartlepool, in their infinite wisdom, hung a monkey fearing that it was a French spy. However, H’Angus, stood as mayor of his town and won.

Morton (Cappie the Cat) – The kidnapped mascot. After a break in at their stadium police had to investigate the theft of expensive sound equipment – as well as the First Division football club’s official mascot. The burglars left behind Cappie the Cat’s chopped-off hands and feet at the stadium and dumped its severed head in a nearby garden. The torso and tail are still missing.

St Mirren (Paisley Panda) – The most infamous mascot in Scotland. In 2003 he pretended to shag an inflatable sheep in front of Queen of the South fans. In a subsequent match he stole a Falkirk strip from their dressing room pretended to use it to wipe his arse in front of the enraged Falkirk fans. A Complaint to the police ensued leading to the panda’s resignation.

St Mirren and Morton – One of Scottish footballs biggest rivalries. The panda  armed with a bar of soap and long-handled brush proceeded to “wash” himself in front of the in his eyes soap dodging Morton fans. He even produced a giant pine tree air freshener which he placed in front of their supporters. That  almost sparked a brawl with Morton’s own mascot before the police intervened.

Rangers (Broxi Family) – Broxi the bear is the main mascot at Rangers but for a short period he brought his wife and child to work. She was Roxi Bear and the son was Boris Bear. The mascots didn’t reappear the next season which makes me wonder if Broxi is the first divorced mascot.

SCFC watches Queens Park V Rangers

Two things in life you should never get involved in

1. A land war in asia
2. A “domestic”

I once got involved in a “domestic” when trying to stop a street argument between a husband and wife. I’m pleased to say that due to my intervention they both stopped arguing with each other and found love….through shouting at me to mind my own business.

The Rangers saga is your classic domestic  It involves a warring couple – Charles “not a racist  Green and Craig “more wiretaps than an episode of the wire” Whyte, there’s a child involved that they both want custody of – Rangers FC, and it’s a story that bores anyone outside of the dispute! To a non-follower of Rangers like myself this distracts from the actual football side of the club. So on Sunday I went to view the only hooped team in Glasgow (Queens Park) to take on Rangers in a match I call the sevcold firm derby.

A crowd of eleven thousand made it along to Hampden. The match was an enjoyable but slightly one sided game. Rangers never looked like losing but never really looked like championship winners either. Their team is a mix of players who normally wouldn’t be good enough for their youth squad and players who are too good for division 3 but who would rather be somewhere else. I think the mistake Rangers made in the summer was buying SPL players. They should have bought the best of the lower leagues. Players who have been there and done it at this level.

Queens Park played well but like most division 3 sides they lack a striker. In the first half they did everything well except having attempts on goal. In the second half they got a deserved goal but it would have been unjust to get more than that.

The highlight of the game was the half time run-off between four mascots. Clyde the Thistle (commonwealth games), a giant can of Irn Bru (Irn Bru), Broxi Bear (Rangers) and Harry the Hippo (Queens Park.)

I was impressed with a small section of the rangers fans who from the start of the game until the end bounced up and down, sang and at one point seemed to strip naked! The sun had come out but it was still a n*b-shrinking 4c at best!

I thought the Rangers fans were mostly in the West stand until they scored. The man next to me jumped out of his seat screaming “YESSSSSSS!!!! GET INTO THIS SHOWER OF W~~NKERS!” a process he repeated four times as the goals rained in. If I sneaked into a rival section of the ground I would celebrate each of my sides goals quietly and as least noticeably as possible. Luckily for him Queens Park fans are unused to having such level of hatred leveled at them and decided to politely ignore him.

His reaction was your typical emotional fan outburst. Queens Park have a similar expletive-ridden shouter but he prefers logic to mindless insults. Some of his outbursts on Sunday include “MCCCULOCH!!! YOU WERE ALWAYS OVERRATED AS A PLAYER AS YOUR FIRST TOUCH ISN’T AS GOOD AS IT SHOULD BE FOR AN SPL PLAYER! C**T!! or the slightly more abusive “GET TO F**ING MANAGER SCHOOL FAT ALLY! YOUR INFLEXIBLE FORMATION AND LACK OF WING BACKS HAS CREATED A BORING AND ONE DIMENSIONAL FOOTBALLING SIDE! C**T” He manages to growl these out without taking a breath. Such level of vocal control is usually only seen in opera stars.

Charles Green described the side as “the worst ever Rangers team.” I wouldn’t have said they were that bad. They aren’t even the worst team to play at Hampden this year. That honour goes to the Scotland national team.

An open letter to Scottish Football

Dear Scottish Football.

You don’t know me but I’ve been watching you for a long time… Sorry. That sounds a bit creepy. Let me start again.

I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you want. If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you I don’t have money… Sorry. That sounds a bit threatening. Let me start again.

GET YOUR F**ING ACT TOGETHER!

This week the the SPL met and were unable to agree to Scottish football reconstruction. The only thing the chairmen could agree on was that they all hated St Mirren. Which makes them the most hated Saint since Jimmy Greaves found out his name wasn’t going to be listed first on his TV show.

So here are three points which can be implemented for next season that would bring more meaningful games and a more attractive TV proposition.

1. Keep the current league setup and promote how good it is as the SPL is an exciting league! Over the last decade the league has been decided on the last day of the season so often that it now has its own name – helicopter day.

2. Change relegation in the SPL to two sides. This creates more meaningful games in the bottom half of the league and makes it easier to refresh the league by bringing up two from the first division.

3. Change the rule in the TV contract that restricts clubs to only two home games per season being shown. What other product puts a restriction on their best wares? TV viewers should be able to see games such Celtic v Hearts or a Rangers v Aberdeen but they could not because the two home games for the old firm would be saved for old firm games.

So forget 12-12-18 or 8-8-8-8 and lets get back to focusing on the only numbers that matter – the score!

Yours Faithfully

A fan.