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banner Thursday, 8 November, 2001, 14:06 GMT
When mascots go bad
Bury's Robbie the Bobby is a new contender for the most notorious mascot crown
BBC Sport Online's Neil Hall examines the phenomenon of badly behaved mascots

If Sir Alex Ferguson thinks there's pressure at Old Trafford he should try life at football's sharp end - inside the six foot tall giant furry suits of the team mascots.

The stakes have never higher for our fluffy friends and the weight of expectation is starting to tell in their unruly behaviour.

To make matters worse, mascots up and down the land are shaking in their over-sized boots as a new contender emerges for the seemingly-illustrious title of worst behaved mascot.

And while Manchester United's supremacy in the Premiership fades, Lancashire hearts will be warmed to know this newcomer is one of their own.

Jonathan Pollard only started the job as Bury's mascot this season and has already been sent-off three times.

Wolverhampton's mascot Wolfie
Wolfie: His bite's worse than his bark
Robbie the Bobby first received his marching orders when he mooned at Stoke City fans.

A few weeks later he was seeing red again when he ripped the ears off Peterborough's rabbit mascot.

The Division Two side have made an abysmal start to the season and needed a win over Cardiff on Wednesday to move off the bottom.

Robbie was determined to not let his side down and helped to generate the pressure-cooker atmosphere for which Gigg Lane is renown.

Unfortunately, the intensity of the occasion got to his opposite number Bartley the Bluebird and feathers began to fly.

The resulting melee was broken up by about 12 stewards, with touchline judges scoring Robbie the clear winner.

"When I realised Bartley wasn't playing, I clouted him a couple of times and then ripped his head off," the amateur boxer told the Manchester Evening News.

Swansea's Cyril the Swan clashes with Millwall's Zampa the Lion
Cyril the Swan is top of the bad boy pecking order
"I think I broke his nose and I'm sure he lost a tooth or two."

The viciousness of the attack cannot be condoned, but even more alarming is the fact that it is far from the first instance of mascots behaving badly.

The pressure of being in the media spotlight seemed to be getting to the most notorious of mascot bad boys Cyril the Swan.

Sadistic Cyril - who was once handed a 1,000 fine for a solo pitch invasion - ripped the head off Millwall's Zampa the Lion and drop-kicked it into the crowd last season.

His antics can be only truly be rivalled by Wolverhampton's Wolfie mascot.

The no-nonsense beast once enthralled the Molineux faithful by starting a fight with all three of Bristol City's pigs.

The Mascot Grand National
Fiercely competitve: The Mascot Grand National
And when local pride is at stake, Wolfie has proved he is not one to disappoint after clashing with West Bromwich Albion's Baggie Bird in 1999.

But the Bury favourite claims he can mix it with such illustrious company and has set his sights firmly on winning the big one, the Mascot Grand National.

"I'm not frightened. In fact I'll probably win that race because by then, they will all be after me.

"I'm sure I'm going to make a few more enemies by the end of the season," added the confident northerner.

Robbie will have to go some way to better Cyril's efforts at this year's race at Huntingdon.

The former ugly duckling was accused of pushing over a woman dressed as a dog before the race even started.

See also:

31 May 01 |  Funny Old Game
Mascots behaving badly
13 Mar 01 |  Plymouth Argyle
Plymouth ban 'Alex the Greek'
12 Feb 01 |  Swansea City
Swans defend Lion decapitation
19 Feb 01 |  Funny Old Game
Robbo puts the boot in
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