Cute and Fluffy, Not

By DeusExMacintosh

Swansea City – a very minor soccer club in an even more minor city where I once had the misfortune to live for several years – have been promoted to the Premier League.

God help the premiership. May I introduce to you: Cyril, the Swan.

In February 2001, Cyril the Swan of Swansea City, the undisputed enfant terrible of the furry football farmyard, began an unprecedented reign of mascot terror by ripping the head off of Millwall’s Zampa the Lion and drop-kicking it into the crowd.

A litany of further offences was added to the charge sheet of the nine-foot bird before he was hauled, in full swan regalia, before a Welsh FA disciplinary committee. Cyril had grabbed a referee, pushed a director of Norwich City, thrown a pork pie at West Ham United fans and led a one-bird pitch invasion during an FA Cup victory. In spite of a “Cyril is Innocent” campaign by Swansea supporters, he was banned from the touchline and fined £1,000.

The 2001 mascot Grand National, a race designed to channel the steam emanating from the within the polyester costumes in a more spectator-friendly direction, also ended in injury and shame. Wendy the Wolf left via a stretcher, Harry the Hornet cracked two ribs, and police were left searching for a mysterious long-necked figure after a woman claimed she had been pushed over, damaging her wrist. “I can confirm Cyril the Swan is the main suspect,” a police officer said at the time.

The Times

I hate football. Always have, always will. Hated living in Swansea even more than I hate soccer (which is saying something) agreeing not so much with Dylan Thomas’ “graveyard of broken dreams” as the “pretty sh*tty city” of indie hit TWIN TOWN. Have never supported any football club in my life but have supported its football mascot by contributing towards his bail money in a Swansea pub once. Local boy made truly excellent Doctor Who and truly awful Torchwood, Russell T Davies, once tried a ‘comedy’ pilot set in his hometown where a family discovers that it owns the land the city was built on and still has the medieval charter to prove it. Personally I think MINE ALL MINE failed not through the fault in the premise that someone might want the town, but in the unconscious recognition that all you’d need to claim it from residents was the offer of bus fare out. It is also true that a return ticket on the Swansea to Cardiff Shuttle costs the same as a single.

It’s really not nice. And guess what? Neither it its mascot. He’s like a p*ssed-off, p*ssed-up Swansea fan with more aggression than sense and when playing against Cardiff, a decades-old grudge to boot. There’s probably a good reason for that.

Now football chiefs are introducing the code for the start of next season to clamp down on the mischievous mascots. It will stipulate mascots must not moon, distract players, go on the pitch during the match, and most importantly attack opposition mascots.

Zampa the Lion, who is also known as Sydenham single mother Lynn Rogers, 30, said: “On the day of the fight with Cyril the Swan, I was not inside the costume, another supporter was.

“I have spoken with Cyril the Swan and he apologised. He is a nice person. He told me it would never have happened if I was Zampa that day, but he was provoked.

“I am glad the new code of conduct is being drawn up because clubs often let just anyone be a mascot but we should be examples for the younger fans. Clubs need to value us more.

“It is a shame Millwall were involved in this incident. We are trying to get away from the violent image we have got.”

Turns out Cyril probably IS a p*ssed up, p*ssed off Swansea fan with more aggression than sense. A Swan is in fact the perfect mascot for both Swansea and its fans, even if they’re both misunderstood by Mr Daily Mail.

We saw Cyril playfully kicking a policeman, heard that the football authorities don’t like him, and learned that he’s been accused of assault by the manager of Norwich. But it wasn’t his physical aggression I objected to, it was his assault on our sensibilities.

At bottom, Cyril isn’t a “naughty but lovable mascot”, he’s a cynical PR ploy to make money (not just from football, but also from lucrative panto appearances), and in my Observer Book of Animals, that makes him not a graceful swimming bird of the genus cygnus, but a dirty lowdown rat.

Obnoxious, foul-tempered, prone to random violence… I don’t know which is more perfect: that description for a swan or a football fan. Attempts to ‘fluffy’ him up with marriage to Sibyl swan and children’s party rentals are probably doomed to failure longer-term when the ‘man’ and ‘fans’ are in such exquisite symmetry.

Cyril is easily misunderstood, even his wiki-entry is inaccurate. As you can see here, the “mute swan, who doesn’t give interviews” has plenty to say… with helpful Dutch subtitles as it happens.

I’d say Cyril is ready for the premier league, but is the premier league ready for Cyril?

15 Comments

  1. Henry2
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    It is also true that a return ticket on the Swansea to Cardiff Shuttle costs the same as a single.

    Hehe, love it!!!

  2. Posted June 2, 2011 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    Swans are not friendly. They look lovely, but they’re not friendly. I learnt this the hard way rowing. The Isis swans hate rowers, and hate coxes even more. I’ve had one try to climb up my oar, but the worst behaviour is always reserved for the poor bloody cox, who has nothing to defend herself with. This can include biting, clawing and trying to climb into the boat.

    Most unfriendly creatures, swans, so Cyril is true to type.

  3. kvd
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    began an unprecedented reign of mascot terror by ripping the head off of Millwall’s Zampa the Lion and drop-kicking it into the crowd

    Don’t suppose there’s a Youtube clip? The Waratahs would kill for someone with a boot like that.

  4. Posted June 2, 2011 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

    Sadly, it would seem not. I hear Stamford is getting nervous…

  5. Movius
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

    The Swansea vs Reading playoff final was a great game. But Swansea’s 4-2 triumph was ultimately due to two penalties conceded by Reading, because of some of the worst defending this side of the Sun.

    A sidenote. the playoff for the last promotion spot to the premier league is one of the most underappreciated sporting events in the world (It’s the biggest one-off match in any sport in terms of the money at stake). I enjoy watching it every year.

    ps. It is good to see you using the proper name of ‘Soccer’

  6. Posted June 3, 2011 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    Geese were used for centuries as “watch birds” because they will both honk at, and attack, intruders. So, if swans are pretty geese, aggressive behaviour would be in character.

    Swans have an important role in logic (the black swans of the antipodes providing a classic example of the limitations of induction). They were a medieval delicacy, and hunting of them was often restricted. (Medieval hunting restrictions were an early form of environmental management and, like the equivalent environmental laws of our times, were supported most strongly by the wealthiest in society.)

    Swans mate for life. In our local area (Footscray), there is a moderately well known mated pair of male (black) swans. They steal eggs and raise the cygnets. (This is not as hostile an act as it sounds, as the egg-losers promptly lay replacement egg[s].)

  7. Posted June 3, 2011 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    There was a little industrial park up the Welsh valley where I used to live that got the bright idea to install a pond and a flock of geese on their grass verges overnight to stop a persistent spate of burglaries. Worked a treat. Security guard penned them up of a morning while everyone got on with legitimate business and then let them out to roam the site of an evening. No more thefts.

  8. kvd
    Posted June 3, 2011 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

    My Dalmatians got out one day and ate my geese. Lots of feathers, but not even a beak to be found. They complained that night about no food.

    Our little property was in a high August wind area, and I used to love watching the geese just extend their wings, and do vtol’s – it seemed just for fun.

  9. Posted June 3, 2011 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

    I’m a Queenslander – with us the evening aerobatics came from clouds of fruit bats heading over to the market gardens in Logan.

    Was once treed by a goose. I haz ishoos. 🙁

  10. Posted June 3, 2011 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

    No… swans aren’t *pretty* geese, merely long-necked, all the better to bite you.

    Hmm. Do swans attack in a group the way a gang of geese did to me when I was a pre-schooler? LE was lucky just being chased, DEM being treed – the bastards surrounded me up against the fence and drew quite a bit of blood.

  11. Posted June 8, 2011 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

    I was once chased around a picnic table by a cassowary that mugged me for my chocolate billabong… (are they a ‘headbutt’ of cassowaries by any chance?)

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