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Monday, 12 February, 2001, 18:14 GMT
Swans defend Lion decapitation
Zampa the Lion and Cyril the Swan
Tails you lose: Zampa and Cyril's heading practice
Swansea City mascot Cyril the Swan has come in for criticism after he pulled off a fellow mascot's head and drop-kicked it into the crowd during the half-time entertainment.

The controversial character found himself back in the headlines after Sunday's match against Millwall at the Vetch.

But Swansea City have hit back at a wave criticism, saying it was harmless fun and that Millwall's Zampa the Lion started it.

Swansea issued a statement defending Cyril's honour after newspaper reports suggested that his antics had enraged Millwall fans.

Light-hearted banter

"As part of our half-time entertainment, Cyril the Swan participated in a penalty shoot-out, as is the norm, with his Millwall counterpart Zampa the Lion.

"This was a good-natured affair, with much light-hearted banter between the mascots.

"This developed into a `head-to-head' match where Zampa attempted to remove Cyril's head, without success, only for Cyril to manage to `relieve' Zampa of his!

"The club objects to the way in which this matter has been reported by sections of the media, with the use of language insinuating that the crowd was enraged.

"In the photograph published, the fans pictured are Millwall supporters, and you will see that nearly everyone has a smile on their face."

Two-match ban

Last year, the Football League considered introducing disciplinary measures including yellow cards to control a number of ugly incidents between a number of mascots.

Cyril's rap sheet includes a 1,000 fine two years ago for running onto the pitch to celebrate a goal.

He was also handed a two-match ban after clashing with Norwich assistant manager Brian Hamilton.

"The referee will not be mentioning the matter in his report and neither will South Wales Police," said a Swansea City official of the latest incident.

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