When FFT be­came Taddy Bear

Staff writer An­drew Mur­ray found out when he an­swered Tad­caster Al­bion’s call to be their fuzzy suit-wearer

FourFourTwo - - CONTENTS -

“Hey, come over here, Taddy. I want to have a tug of your tail.”

De­pend­ing on your point of view, this is ei­ther re­ally weird or il­le­gal – or both. To be hon­est, lads, you’re lucky it’s only my bear arse you want a piece of...

When Fourfourtwo an­swered the call of Tad­caster Al­bion to be their mas­cot for the day, we weren’t ex­pect­ing to get propo­si­tions from a num­ber of mid­dleaged York­shire­men with an un­healthy crav­ing for an­thro­po­mor­phic pos­te­ri­ors.

“We’re look­ing for some­one to be­come Taddy Bear on match­days – could it be you?” read the Brew­ers’ tweet, 10 days be­fore I’m stand­ing next to my new, er, friends in the eighth tier. “1. Yes we are se­ri­ous; 2. You get in for free.”

Reli­ably in­formed that the cos­tume’s for­mer oc­cu­pant didn’t come a crop­per in Spinal Tap drum­mer cir­cum­stances, I ap­ply, on the strength that a) I’m very cheap and b) I’ve seen The Jun­gle Book at least four times. Some­how, the gig is mine for Tad­caster’s In­te­gro League Cup tie against fel­low Evo-stik Divi­sion One North side Os­sett Al­bion.

Shat­tered af­ter a four-hour drive from south-west Lon­don up to north York­shire and in­tox­i­cated by the pizza-in­fused hop smell hang­ing in the air, cour­tesy of the ad­ja­cent John Smith’s brew­ery, I’m soon wel­comed by Jay Tay­lor – au­thor of the tweet where this all be­gan.

“We re­ceived about four or five se­ri­ous re­quests,” re­veals Jay, who heads up the Brew­ers’ so­cial me­dia. “Most were lo­cal, but one guy was a lit­tle too keen to be a mas­cot and was go­ing to travel from Torquay ev­ery week!”

Taddy Bear has been part of match­day at the i2i Sta­dium for more than six years, and today has even had a wash “for the first time in years”.

I ask a league of­fi­cial to zip me into my furry at­tire. “Aye, all right,” he smiles. “But have you had all your proper jabs?” Ra­bies, af­ter all, is com­mon among fuzzy mas­cots...

Emerg­ing from our cave-like dress­ing room, I bump into PA an­nouncer Colin Swann, who’s dou­bled as Taddy at club events. Any ad­vice? “Just try not to make any kids cry,” he chuck­les. “The steps are a night­mare, too. Oh, and you’re go­ing to get bloody hot in there.”

Colin is right: I nearly stack it down the stairs on my way to try shift­ing a cou­ple of of­fi­cial pro­grammes. Busi­ness is slow, though, and I give up af­ter a Brew­ers fan takes a good look at me be­fore grunt­ing: “I can’t read.”

Tail be­tween my legs, I pin­ball my way pitch­side as the play­ers walk out of the tun­nel, al­though I can’t even line up any high-fives prop­erly. The cup clash gets un­der­way, so I join young fans Noah and Rex for a kick­about.

“Oh Taddy, that was rub­bish,” shouts Noah, drib­bling the ball around me with ease. “Wait, I can see your skin! I knew you weren’t a real bear. They don’t wear watches. And put some trousers on.”

The seven-year-old’s trash-talk­ing now com­plete, and with Josh Green­ing fir­ing Tad­caster 1-0 in front, I head over to the club­house to ‘help’ be­fore the half-time rush. Soon drenched in beer – a lack of op­pos­able thumbs is bit of a prob­lem – I stag­ger back onto the play­ing sur­face smelling like the brew­ery next door.

“I bet it’s hot in there,” says Tad­caster mid­fielder Pete David­son af­ter a quick half-time kick­about with the sub­sti­tutes. Part beer, part Per­sil, part sweat, it’s not a nice place to be.

“Taddy Bear, you de­serve a Taddy Beer af­ter the game,” adds sub­sti­tute Aaron Hardy. “I’ll f**king need one,” I re­ply. In front of a young­ster. Note to self: must stop swear­ing.

I try to catch man­ager Mike Mor­ton’s eye and warm up on the touch­line. “I’ve never seen such crap,” shouts one fan. “You should go on.”

With 20 min­utes to go, Tommy Wood lev­els for Os­sett and I sink to my knees. I look like I’m hav­ing a break­down, but al­most im­me­di­ately Conor Sel­lars takes aim and nets a splen­did goal from long range to re­store Tad­caster’s ad­van­tage. My at­tempts at start­ing a chant by the home faith­ful, how­ever, re­ceive a rather muted re­sponse.

“Get your bon­net off,” shouts one fan. “Taddy Bear!” hollers an­other. “Sit down, you fool, we can’t see a thing.”

As the full-time whis­tle edges nearer, young­sters Har­ley and Fin­ley usher me to the tun­nel, where danc­ing, smil­ing – which is point­less when no one can see your face – and more high-fiv­ing await the vic­tors at the fi­nal whis­tle.

So, the swear­ing, poorly-poured pints and ter­ri­ble dance moves aside, how did I get on? “You were cer­tainly more enthusiastic than our usual fella,” says fan An­drew Charlesworth. “He’s got rhythm. You haven’t, but at least you tried hard.” Trust a York­shire­man to tell it like it is. Now, has any­one got a num­ber for the RSPCA? My tail has never seen such ac­tion.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.