Premier League mascot battle royal: how every English top tier mascot would fare in a mass brawl

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The question we’ve all been dying to ask for far too long: which Premier League mascot would win in a massive fight?

Some things in life are to be savoured. Strange, ethereal, mystical excerpts in the sagas of our existence that stop us in our tracks and remind us of the innate beauty in the divinity of our being; brief moments of sanctity and tranquility that reaffirm everything we hold to be true; glimpsing a shooting star, the miracle of silence in a forest of ancient redwoods, staring a wild stag in the eye as it just stands, regal and statuesque, before you. And, of course, mascot fights.

The allure of two grown men dressed in anthropomorphic polyester costumes knocking seven bells out of each other on the touchline of a professional sporting event is a hard one to articulate. It’s intangible in the same way that you can’t convey to somebody the haunting echo of whale song, or the tsunami of emotion that engulfs you when you hold your first born.

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Maybe it triggers some kind of primal bloodlust deep within us. Maybe it’s the subversion of a norm, the corruption of something innocent and joyous into something undignified and grotesque. Maybe, quite simply, it’s just bloody funny.

Few have seen a mascot fight in the flesh (or foam), and many who have might have witnessed something more akin to a scuffle, but those fortunate enough to bask in the glow of a full blown mascot smackdown have their lives changed forever. It’s a fleeting epiphany, a glance behind the veil. From that day forth, they will never be able to look at an anonymous stranger wearing a giant furry head without longing for them to stick the nut on someone.

The rest of us, downbeat and dishevelled, can merely hypothesise and daydream, wondering and waiting like Charlie Bucket if we’ll ever be granted the privilege of a golden ticket to the Wonka factory of cartoon violence. But if we are doomed to wander with our heads in the clouds, marvelling at the grand fur and foam palaces constructed in our wildest dreams, we might as well do it properly.

So without further ado, here it is; all 19 Premier League mascots - plus the random Scouse child Everton rope in every week - going head to removable head. Take no prisoners, take no chances, salt the earth of camaraderie with the flowing tears of your vanquished foes. Float like a butterfly, sting like a man dressed as a bee.

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A small note before we begin. I’ve disqualified Nottingham Forest’s Robin Hood. I know, I know, it’s controversial - but my reasoning is two-fold. Firstly, while I’m all for a bit of robbing from the rich and giving to the poor, Comrade Hood does so predominantly with a bow and arrow. In the interest of a fair mascot rumble, we can’t have entrants overtly bringing their own weapons to the table. (If they want to sneak in a set of brass knuckles down their sock or something, that’s a different kettle of fish.) I have no appetite to see Robin Hood loose a quiver of arrows into the belly of an nine-foot tall dinosaur, for instance, and for that I make no apologies.

Secondly, he might just be the creepiest streak of weird I ever did see. He’s so human and yet he’s so... unhuman. He’s less uncanny valley, more uncanny Grand Canyon. And why is his little green cape made my Macron? Surely, that can’t be a viable business venture for them? Or has he demanded a bespoke tailoring job for himself and himself alone? If he has, I don’t like that kind of attitude.

Look, I know it’s a bit shady, and Forest fans, I’m heartily sorry, but I’m booting him. After much consideration, I have decided he will be replaced by the mascot who I believe has generated the most authentic heat in recent seasons, and who is genuinely deserving of his spot in this bloodbath. Welcome, Harry the Hornet.

ROUND ONE

Pete the Eagle v Harry the Hornet

First out of the hat was this absolute humdinger between Crystal Palace’s Pete the Eagle, and Watford’s corruptly-reinstated clown prince of mascotry, Harry the Hornet.

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These two have previous, with the striped insect inciting so much controversy in recent times that Eagles’ boss Roy Hodgson labelled him ‘disgraceful’ and ‘out of order’ for his provocation of Wilf Zaha a few years ago.

A proper grudge match with a score to settle, this one could get nasty. For all Pete is a bird of prey, he also looks like he should be on the front of a bottle of Kia-Ora with his ridiculous service station sunglasses.

Harry’s flamboyant moxie makes it hard to look past the Ric Flair of the mascot world in this one, and the bad boy wasp might just have a sting in his tail.

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Kop Cat v Filbert the Fox

Not going to lie, didn’t know either of these two existed before I googled ‘All 20 Premier League Mascots’. Leeds United offer up a snow leopard with the face paint and wired stare of an English Lit undergrad in a tent at Parklife, while Leicester City are represented by a fox in a bucket hat.

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Filbert looks like he enjoys Courteeners gigs and cans of Dark Fruit, and neither of those will help with his pre-fight preparation, Kop Cat is probably too busy planning their outfit for Fred Again to even realise what’s going on.

Mighty Red v Billy the Badger

Quite hard to call this one. Mighty Red is meant to be a cormorant, like the liver bird, but actually looks more like a cross between Marlin from Finding Nemo and a lipstick.

My dad always used to say that empty barrels make the most noise, and I can’t escape the feeling that calling himself ‘Mighty’ is a front for the fact that he would get his flawless pearly whites punched out in any kind of dust up. For sheer uselessness of the opposition, Billy the Badger edges it.

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Cherry Bear v Fred the Red

No contest. I’m sure that Cherry Bear is a lovable little scamp with his sideways cap and infectious enthusiasm for work in the community, but Fred the Red is an actual demon from hell.

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Even looking at the production value in the two costumes is enough of a giveaway to tell you that this would be a whitewash, and Gary O’Neil would be finding cherry-scented chunks of teddy bear all over the Vitality for months after.

Chirpy v Buzz

The sexiest clash of the round; a true meeting of the birds and the bees. On the face of it, it’s all very Disney Pixar’s A Bug’s Life. (The bird fighting an insect bit, not the euphemistic sex part). That movie was like a creepy-crawly Die Hard, and I can see Buzz pulling off a proper John McClane on the Spurs mascot.

The joyously deranged look in his eye tells me that bee has seen things that no honey maker should, and I’d back the Brentford bumbler to make a real Hans Gruber out of Tottenham’s Chirpy the Cockerel. Cock-a-doodle-don’t f****** mess.

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Monty Magpie v Gunnersaurus Rex

Birds are descended from dinosaurs, but in nearly every way imaginable they are an evolutionary step backwards. Like, imagine Jurassic Park had been made with birds instead of dinosaurs - it wouldn’t have been half as scary. Although, to be fair, when I saw The Birds for the first time I didn’t sleep for about a week and I’m still a bit terrified of pigeons. Flappy little sky-rat wazzocks. Maybe Hitchcock was on to something. I stand by my gut instinct though. There’s no way that the big man isn’t giving Monty a hiding.

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Gunnersaurus Rex is a cult hero in his own right, but I’ve always found him a bit confusing. He looks like a herbivore, but the ‘Rex’ would suggest that he’s carnivorous. All I know is that he is a ruthless predator when it comes to sticking penalties past little children at half time, and I’d fully expect to him rip that smug magpie wing from wing.

Wolfie the Wolf v Hercules the Lion

And the accolade for least imaginative mascot name in the Premier League goes to... I mean, come on. That must have been the shortest pitch meeting in history.

‘So guys, Wolves have this new wolf mascot, what should we call him?’ ‘I dunno, Wolfie?’ ‘Bloody hell, John, that’s why they pay you the big bucks! Break for lunch?’

If Wolfie is anywhere near as uninspired as his moniker in the ring, he’s going to get absolutely pestled.

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Stamford the Lion v Sammy the Saint

They say all dogs go to heaven, which kind of makes me think that God must be a sound guy (or girl), but I have a couple of questions about Southampton’s Sammy the Saint.

How did he get canonised? And more importantly, is he a living saint? Because that is a very rare phenomenon that would suggest a level of moral purity far above the cesspit of mascot brawling.

The alternative is that the south coast club have a ghost dog as their talisman, and that’s too depressing a thought to even entertain. For that reason alone, Stamford wins by default because I’m not embroiling a hound of the cloth into this free-for-all. To paraphrase Neil from The Inbetweeners, God is just dog spelled backwards.

Moonchester v Hammerhead

Where to begin with this one. An alien and a robot. Feels like we should get Michael Bay in to direct it and have the winner fight Vin Diesel on a battleship.

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I have a lot of questions about Hammerhead. Officially he’s the Premier League’s only part-automaton mascot, but what’s the ratio of man to machine? My Nana’s got two replacement hips, is she a robot? And when did he gain sentience? Was it some kind of Pinocchio meets Bob the Builder thing? Or was it more of a Frankenstein meets Robot Wars situation?

Either way I want Jonathan Pearce on commentary, Craig Charles giving it large in his leather duster, and Professor Noel Sharkey from the University of Sheffield judging our competitors on style, control, damage, and aggression.

As for Moonchester, you can never trust an alien. ET was the cutest little fella I ever did see, but he had powers, man. Beneath all the dressing up and the Reese’s Pieces, he was a bad mofo, and he could have ended us all with a swish of his glow stick finger.

On balance though, the little blue man as one eyeball with two pupils and that’s going to play havoc with your depth perception. Hammerhead to nail him.

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Gully the Seagull v A Small Scouse Child

Everton have brought this on themselves. They were onto a good thing when they had Changi the Elephant dancing up and down the touchlines, but by getting rid of the trunked wonder and going all community-inclusive in their replacement, they’ve essentially sent a poor Liverpudlian kid to their death at the hands of an eight foot ginger seagull. What a cruel, cruel world we live in.

ROUND TWO

Harry v Filbert

A mediocre bout for the ages. Harry thrives on bravado and the thrill of the taunt, while Filbert thrives on mid-noughties indie landfill classics.

A mismatch in style that would no doubt reject the classicism of the Queensbury rules for a spit-soaked shank-fest on the sticky floor of a small town nightclub. Pretty it ain’t, but few things stoke grit and fervour like an alcopop-fuelled punch up to The Wombats.

Unfortunately for Filbert, however, what comes up must come down, and the wily vulpine would see his foxy boxing undone by Hertfordshire’s very own waspish luchador.

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Billy the Badger v Fred the Red

What’s black and white with Fred all over? Billy the Badger as he gets his face rearranged by an actual devil.

I quite like William. He seems affable, approachable even, but he’s got that roguish streak of mischief that exudes charisma and makes the girls, and some guys, weak at knees. He’s like James Dean, Che Guevara, and Badger from Bodger and Badger, all rolled into one monochromatic enigma. Whether he’s getting all up in Avram Grant’s grill or breakdancing on the pitch while the ball is in play, he couldn’t care less, and I admire that.

That being said, he’s also susceptible to TB and Fred has a trident forged from the molten fires of hell. Soz, Bill.

Buzz v Gunnersaurus

‘D’ya like jazz?’, Buzz cackles as he pushes his giant malformed thumbs down mercilessly on Gunnersaurus’ humongous oesophagus. The gigantic lizard gasps and flails, turning ever more purple, Barney style. In his desperation he scrabbles in the dust beside him, clawing for something, anything, to rid him of this lunatic bee.

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He starts to black out. Arsene Wenger appears before him, basked in a halo of seraphic light, Ray Parlour fluttering beside him in startling cherubic nudity. Arsene beckons, but at that moment, Gunnersaurus’ massive scaly fingers come into contact with something solid, granite-like and cool. He swings it with the force of a meteor strike, and the bee crumples on top of him.

Staggering to his feet, clutching at his throat as the air floods back into his lungs (do mascots have internal organs?) he looks down at his weapon of necessity, his lifeline, his inanimate messiah. There, splintered and bloody, lies a fragment of Abou Diaby’s shin that fell off in 2008.

Hercules v Stamford

Has anyone ever seen Hercules and David Dickinson in the same room at the same time? I’m deadly, deadly serious. Maybe, just maybe, Monday to Friday he spends his time appraising Edwardian bone china and doing the realest of deals, Saturday or Sunday (fixture schedule depending) he dances around Villa Park to Neil Diamond, posing for selfies and high-fiving children.

This is the kind of conspiracy theory that I can get onboard with. Forget your moon landings and your UFO sightings, I want daytime TV antique experts moonlighting as Premier League mascots in plain sight. Stamford progresses.

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Hammerhead v Gully

On paper, a properly maritime affair this one. In reality, a hammer fighting a seagull. Anybody who’s ever eaten chips by the sea (or watched Alfred Hitchcock’s aforementioned The Birds) will have fantasised about this matchup, but in the flesh, or the steel and feathers, it’s a truly horrifying prospect.

There’s something human about Gully, and it’s not just the human inside him. Maybe it’s the warm, confused empathy in his eyes and the way that his beak hangs slightly agape as if you just told him a joke that he doesn’t quite understand, or maybe it’s the fact that he looks like Chesney from Coronation Street, but this seagull is more human than any seagull I have ever come across. And yes, I know that’s because he is a human dressed as a seagull, but still.

Hammerhead is just a hammer/human/robot hybrid though - he doesn’t get things like empathy or jokes. He’s probably never even seen Coronation Street. The humanity in Gully’s vacant gaze is wasted on him. It doesn’t compute. And so regretfully, he takes his massive metal bonce, and puts it straight through Gully’s hollow bones, like a bowling ball through a basket of breadsticks.

Rest in peace you magnificent copper-top seabird, we hardly knew thee.

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AFP via Getty Images

SEMI-FINAL

Now you’re probably thinking ‘Jason, how can you have a semi-final, there’s still five mascots?’ Don’t worry dear reader, I thought about this and I’m just going to get rid of Stamford ‘cause he’s my least favourite. Sorted. Onwards we press…

Harry v Fred

We haven’t really spoken much about Fred the Red yet. Being some distant relative of Beelzebub himself automatically gives him the edge in most tear ups, you see.

In many ways Frederick is the quintessential mascot. He is to mascotry what Tom Cruise is to Scientology or Tony the Tiger is to sugar-coated breakfast cereals. Iconic, polished, all-conquering; he is as at home on a lunchbox or a duvet cover as he is parading up and down in front of the Stretford End.

Don’t let that fool you though. Nice guys rarely finish first, and Fred didn’t get to outlast Fergie, the Class of ’92, and a thousand bizarre commercial partnerships by posing for photos and teaching kids their six times tables. (Click that link by the way - giant devil mascot teaching kids about the number six, mainstream satanism at its finest). No, he got there by being the nastiest, most hellish diva on the touchline. I assume. Like Mariah Carey, but borne of Satan. Like Mariah Carey.

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For all of his hijinks and plastic controversies, Harry the Hornet is a welterweight compared to the spawn of Lucifer. My dad once told me that he was the fastest kid in his class at primary school. It was an accolade he was proud of until his first PE lesson at comprehensive when he lined up alongside a Scandinavian boy called Karl Petersson who had just moved to England and who had already hit puberty like a runaway dog sled. From that day forth my dad was second fastest in his class after an 11-year-old Norse man-child with a wispy golden moustache.

Fred the Red is that hyper-hormonal Swedish boy. How can you compete? He is a behemoth, a leviathan, and he could swat a pesky insect like Harry without a second thought. The Hornet carries off a level of pettiness that I think we should all aspire to, but when all is said and done, if you dance with the devil, he will kick your head in.

AFP via Getty Images

Gunnersaurus v Hammerhead

A showdown straight from a Japanese B-movie. In my mind’s eye, I see a beach, dreary and lugubrious, sodden in the rains of a torrential Pacific downpour and the hustling grain of a Super 8 film reel. It is silent but for the whispered hum of a primitive cast iron projector, and behind us, out of shot, is the angular skyline of a seething metropolis - let’s say Yokohama.

Startlingly, the melancholy peace is shattered by a wretched orchestral swell, we spin to face the city, and the ominous greyscale is punctuated by a monstrous silhouette looming above the high rises. There’s an almighty grinding of metal on metal as Hammerhead heaves himself from building to building, lumbering and treacherous, until he reaches the place where the ocean meets the land. The machine rears his head up to the heavens and untethers a primordial, guttural roar from his mechanical throat, and then, unnervingly, is stilled.

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We turn back to the sea as it begins to rise, inch by inch, out of the choppy waters. At first we notice his cloth cap, crudely embroidered with an antiquated cannon, then we see his eyes, piercing and unblinking. Next, his callous teeth, peaking out from behind a knowing smirk, and then his neck that seems to surge towards the clouds for an eternity. Here comes the dinosaur.

By the time his globular pot belly stands above the waves like a low slung sunset, Hammerhead is advancing toward him like the illegitimate child of a lesser known Transformer. Gunnersaurus Rex meets his glare and begins to stride out of the water, like Daniel Craig in Casino Royale if James Bond was played by Godzilla. The two meet with the tide pawing at their ankles - and then they fight.

And what a fight it is. Sparks and fists fly while errant chunks of fur and foam rain down on the sand like confetti, turning the beach into a preschool collage of hurt. Blow after blow after sickening blow is landed with no quarter given. Have you ever seen two giraffes have a fight? They just swing their necks at each other like some mad game of safari conkers - at one point Gunnersaurus Rex does that for a bit.

There’s kicking and biting, effing and blinding, and then, out of nowhere, Hammerhead just stops. For a confused moment, Gunnersaurus continues to thrash away at his motionless foe, until the blank gawp of the lifeless robot causes him to pause.

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The dinosaur looks down, and notices a small gash in Hammerhead’s achilles tendon, where the ebbing waters of the Western Pacific have begun to seep in. Gunnersaurus falls to his knees, cradling the body of his adversary as his mechanical legs give way. It wasn’t supposed to end like this.

He takes the robot’s formidable head in his cretaceous talons and murmurs, ‘Hammerhead dead?’ Mustering his last ounce of consciousness, Hammerhead forces his eyes half open and replies, ‘Hammerhead IS dead.’

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FINAL

Fred v Gunnersaurus

This is it. The mascot fight to end all mascot fights, and could it be any more delicious?

This is not just two men in ridiculous costumes giving it fisticuffs. This is United vs Arsenal. This is Fergie vs Wenger, Vieira vs Keane, Keown vs Van Nistelrooy. This is mind games, hairdryers, midfield reducers, and flying pizza. This is Wazza diving to slay The Invincibles and Sylvain Wiltord, adorned in gold, slotting the title winner past Fabien Barthez at Old Trafford. This a decade of bitter feuding and a lifetime of quiet resentment. This is every takedown, square up, snide remark, and begrudging handshake rolled into one apocalyptic mascot rumble.

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Not even Dracula would come near this one, because this blood is bad, son.

Logistically, how would it even go down? The hype alone would make the Rumble in the Jungle look like a schoolyard tussle, and pay-per-view records would be smashed like a piñata at a quinceanera. The venue would have to be big. A grand cathedral of the fighting world, an exalted pantheon of combat sports. Let’s say Madison Square Garden, or perhaps a purpose-built outdoor colosseum on the outskirts of Las Vegas.

Each mascot would be flanked by an entourage of vacuous celebrities and professionals, past and present. Carl Jenkinson and Igors Stepanovs, Federico Macheda and Eric Djemba-Djemba, would stand with DJ Khaled and Scott Disick in a dazzling smorgasbord of golden chains and crushed velvet leisurewear.

Clive Tyldesley booms out the tale of the tape from a hanging microphone in the centre of the ring while Mike Dean reminds both mascots that he wants a nice, clean fight. Halogen spotlights stab at the night sky while a baying crowd, bejewelled with foam hands and garish souvenir t-shirts, jostle with ravenous impatience.

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Motorways lie deserted, pubs start charging entrance fees, King Charles declares a national holiday, and a country holds its breath…

As for the scrap itself, how could I even begin to put into words the animalistic majesty of the occasion? How can one justify the divine or define the intangible? In my mind’s eye the closest I can come is an exact reenactment of the final round between Rocky Balboa and Apollo Creed in Rocky II. So here it is. But Jason, ‘Who is Stallone and who is Weathers?’ I hear you cry. Well, let me tell you.

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In that moment, with both mascots lying there on the canvas twitching, the blurred image of a counting referee swimming in the periphery of their bloodshot vision, reputation and pedigree matter for nothing. As numbers float by like cartoon cuckoos, guile and the venomous refusal of a mulish tenacity are the only meaningful traits of a character.

Somewhere in that disorienting haze of split lips and fresh bruises, Gunnersaurus Rex sees something. He sees a spectre of Robin van Persie lifting a Premier League title. He sees United thrashing his club 8-2 with Tom Cleverley and Anderson in the centre of midfield. He sees Alexis Sanchez tickling the ivories like a gym freak Liberace. He sees his mates getting wiped out by a burning space rock. And something inside him snaps.

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With every sinew straining, every fibre of his costume tearing at the seams, every snapshot of the bizarre spectacle around him lurching uncontrollably between the blinks of his battered eyelids, he does something preposterous: he stands up.

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