Mascots: And Another Thing

From the January 2006 issue of FourFourTwo...

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Our panel, left to right:
Buzzy, Brentford
Chaddy, Oldham Athletic
Chirpy, Tottenham Hotspur
Moonchester, Manchester City

How does one become a mascot?

Moonchester I just fell into it really. I’m a City fan and I was doing a few little jobs for the club, when they asked me if I wanted to do it on a temporary basis until they held auditions to find a permanent replacement for the old Moonchester. Five years later, I’m still doing it.
Buzzy I started out as a ball boy at Brentford, then as I got older I was put in charge of the other ball boys, plus I was doing a bit of stewarding for away matches. I was always fairly annoying so when the club decided to create a mascot, they asked me.
Chaddy I’m an Oldham fan, but I’ve only been doing Chaddy for just over a year. I knew they’d been having some problems with the old Chaddy, then my wife told me he’d been sacked so I told the club I was interested in taking over. But they had 30 applications so I had to go to an interview and audition, along with 12 others. After displaying my sense of humour and ability to run up and down the pitch in the costume, I was chosen.
Chirpy I’m a Tottenham supporter and, as a professional actor, I wrote to the club about seven years ago to ask if they wanted me to help create and develop Chirpy as a character. Someone from the press office did it for a year but he’d had enough, so they asked me to come in for an audition. That was when I made it my own.

What are your characters’ back stories and personality traits?

Chaddy Chaddy’s just turned seven but he has a growth problem, which explains why he’s so big. He’s a typical youngster, full of mischief, stealing chips off people and dunking them in their drinks – things like that. He’s also a bit of a flirt with the ladies.
Chirpy Chirpy’s a bit older – 12 – but he’s also naughty and playful, so to get into character I revert back to my childhood. When he’s not doing press-ups or the splits, he goes through ladies’ handbags and messes up their hair and gets men up to dance. His behaviour’s not always appreciated, but they always forgive him.
Buzzy Brentford’s a family club so generally I have to be fairly well behaved. Lots of waving and handshaking.
Moonchester Moonchester is an alien who heard some signals from the Blue Moon about a great football club. He followed the signals and ended up at Maine Road. He has an enormous head with an antenna, which he loves to wiggle. That’s his signature move. He also has a girlfriend, Moonbeam, and before kick-off five City kids and five away kids take penalties against us. It’s a good job you want the kids to score because it’s almost impossible to save anything in those uniforms.
Buzzy I saved every penalty in the LDV Vans Final in Cardiff – I was on fire!

How do you get on with other mascots? Any particular rivalries to speak of?

Buzzy It’s all pretty friendly between mascots. I get on particularly well with Boomer the Dog at Port Vale and we’ll go out socially.
Moonchester I’ve even been to other mascots’ weddings. My best mascot mates are the City Gent from Bradford, Sammy the Shrimp from Southend and Burton Albion’s Billy Brewer. I even go out for a drink with Fred the Red after derby games.
Chirpy Funnily enough, I’m quite good friends with Arsenal’s Gunnersaurus. At the FA Cup semi-final at Old Trafford in 2001 we walked round the pitch together and pretended to have a fight for the photographers. But when I got back to the Lane for the next home game, some fans wouldn’t talk to me because I shook his hand. Mostly it’s light-hearted banter, but the rivalry between the fans has increased somewhat since Sol Campbell’s move.
Chaddy When I inherited Chaddy, he had a bad reputation among the other mascots so they were a bit prickly, but now I’ve met them and got to know them, everything’s fine.
Moonchester At Coventry once, I got into a snowball fight with Sky Blue Sam. It started off fairly light-hearted and the fans loved it, but it soon got a bit intense and some stewards had to step in and calm us down.

How are you received by opposition fans?

Chirpy There aren’t many grounds in the Premiership that will allow the away mascot to travel. Could you imagine what would happen if I went to Arsenal or Chelsea or West Ham or their mascots came to White Hart Lane? It probably wouldn’t be safe. I’m not allowed anywhere near the away fans at the Lane, either, especially against those teams I’ve just mentioned. On a few occasions their fans have tried to climb over the barriers to get at me, like when I pulled my shorts down and did a moony at the Arsenal fans. That caused a few problems for the stewards and I haven’t been allowed near the away fans since. I suppose I shouldn’t have done it.
Moonchester Bolton, Middlesbrough, Chelsea and West Brom all let you travel and it’s fantastic. I’ve never had any trouble. Whenever they get close enough to you, they always shake your hand. You also get the more hardcore City fans travelling as well, so that atmosphere’s always great as you spend most of the game next to them.
Chaddy I can go on as many trips as I like, but some fans still take it too far. At Huddersfield once, someone threw a bit of pie at me so I jokingly threw it back – and he threatened to knife me. I quickly backed off when I realised he was serious. I also got bollocked once for winding up the Chesterfield away fans at Boundary Park.
Buzzy Most of the time the abuse is harmless, but I had a couple of beer bottles thrown at me by the Millwall fans once. I’ve also had fans punch me in the face at away games, which hurt a bit, but unfortunately you can’t retaliate because there are kids around. The worst occasion was at a home game one Christmas. We had some carol singers on the pitch before the game and one of them threatened to set me on fire with his candle – which was a bit of surprise coming from a carol singer!

How's your relationship with your players and coaching staff?

Chaddy Cracking, although we bought 12 players over the summer and a few of them didn’t know how to take me at first. The manager Ronnie Moore and his assistant John Breckin are great and most of the players let me have a knockabout with them before the game. I go in goal quite a lot and they try to score past me.
Moonchester I have a laugh with all the players. I even had a water fight with Kevin Keegan once. I let him win, though!
Chirpy I have a lot of interaction with most of the Tottenham players. Like when Jamie Redknapp was there as captain, we got on very well. In fact, once I even snogged his wife Louise. I also get on well with Jermain Defoe – and Paul Robinson has been giving me some goalkeeping tips for the half-time challenge, ‘Shoot for a Holiday’, when I have to try to save penalties. As for people at other teams, I tried to pick on Roman Abramovich when Chelsea came to Spurs this season. I tried to give him a hug but before I got close to him one of his minders stepped in and I didn’t want to mess with him, even in my costume.

What have been your most embarrassing moments?

Buzzy I’ve had a few. I was playing in goal before kick-off about five years ago when a player called Rob Hutchings took a shot and knocked my head clean off and into the back of the net. I didn’t want my true identity to be revealed so I dived into the net after it but I got tangled up, so the players had to pile in and help to get me out! Another time, I fell back and knocked myself out during the half-time penalty shootout. What people don’t realise is, there’s a builder’s hat attached to the foam so you get quite a whack when you fall. Nobody realised I was hurt – they thought I was messing around – so when I came round I had to carry on. I was all over the place. I spent the second half of the match with St John’s Ambulance.
Moonchester I had a penalty shootout with one of the mascots once – I forget who – and I really tried to whip the crowd up, goading him and everything. But as I stepped up I slipped on my arse and spooned it miles wide. That was embarrassing.
Chirpy Against Charlton once, I had to go over to the tunnel and welcome the players onto the pitch, but as I ran in front of the away end, I fell head over heels. The whole ground, even the home fans, were taking the mickey out of me. In my defence, though, it was absolutely pouring down with rain.
Chaddy That’s always tricky. I’ve slipped over a few times trying to give the ball back to players. When Oldham score I always sprint across the front of the Chaddy [Chadderton Road] End. It was only my third home game and you can’t see that well in those masks. I ran right into the goalpost and fell flat on my back.

What are the perks of the job?

Buzzy I don’t get paid, but I get into games for free obviously and I also get a discount in the club shop.
Chirpy I get a season ticket as well – and they’re not cheap at Spurs!
Moonchester I don’t get paid either, but I do get paid for other events. I’ve done a couple of hen parties and for one, I borrowed a policeman’s stripping uniform, which I wore over my football kit, before doing a striptease. It went down well.
Buzzy Yeah, I’ve done a few functions – I did a cricket club dinner in the summer.
Chirpy I also get fan mail all the time – sometimes as many as 200 letters a week. They’re mostly from kids asking for my autograph, but I get some from women as well. I’ve even had women try to put their phone number in my sock or look down my shorts at games.
Moonchester I get loads of letters from kids too, saying “it was really nice to see you at the match” and I always send them a signed postcard back. But the best reaction I get is from adults. I’ve had big, butch-looking guys show me tattoos of Moonchester they’ve had done and one woman had a tattoo of me in her cleavage.
Buzzy I don’t really get fan mail.

What are the drawbacks of being a mascot?

Chaddy The uniform’s sooo hot, even in winter.
Chirpy It’s like being in a sauna in the summer. During one pre-season friendly, I was so hot that I nearly passed out.
Buzzy It’s stupidly hot. Even in the middle of winter I’m sweating like a pig.
Moonchester The colder the weather, the better and if there’s a gale blowing and you get your head at the right angle, it’s heaven.

How have you fared in the annual Mascot Grand National?

Chirpy This year was my first one but I was rugby-tackled at the beginning by the Chester City mascot, or it might have been the Bradford City Gent, who was stood right next to me. I’m not sure if I was targeted or just in the wrong place at the wrong time.  I only came about 30th... but I’ll be back.
Moonchester I’ve done it about five times now and have never come anywhere, which is hardly surprising in this outfit. But I managed to take out the chicken this year.
Buzzy I’m too slow to clobber anyone. You can barely see in the suit either, so I was quite a way behind the leaders.
Chaddy I think it was between 15th and 20th. The guy who was Chaddy before me won it twice.  He’s quite a good athlete and he was accused of cheating.

Do your friends and family know about your double life?

Buzzy I tried to keep it a secret at first, but now most of them know. My girlfriend and mates even introduce me to people as “Buzzy the Bee”!
Moonchester My family and friends all know what I do, but I try to make sure new people I meet don’t know and I make sure people I know don’t tell anybody.
Chaddy All my mates think it’s great, but I’d never reveal my true identity to the fans – that’s a big no-no.
Chirpy My entire family are Spurs fans so they all know. Sean Bean, who I know through acting, also knows, so whenever Sheffield United are playing at White Hart Lane, he’ll ring me up asking for free tickets!

How long do you plan to be a mascot for?

Buzzy I’d do it forever if I could. I know everyone at the club and I enjoy it. And because I was the first, I want to carry on as long as possible. I could have a rest if I ever have kids, but I’d be going to matches as a fan anyway.
Chaddy I’m the same, although I might have to calm down a bit as a get older!
Moonchester I get really twitchy if I go to away games and I’m not Moonchester. If I ever gave it up I’d have to find something else to do at the game because I wouldn’t be able to just sit and watch. It’s the best job in the world.
Chirpy I’m doing two feature films at the moment, so I want to do it until I become really famous. Then I’ll be doing it as a famous person and nobody will know it’s me. I miss doing it when we don’t have a match, and I’m not sure I could go to a home game now without being Chirpy.

Obviously cockerels, owls, aliens and bees don’t speak ‘human’, so FourFourTwo interviewed Chirpy, Chaddy, Moonchester and Buzzy in their respective languages. Interviews: January 2006