Harris Sportsthoughts

Thoughts about Sport

Sniffing Around In Fulham

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They toyed with Bark Butcher. Wrestled with Spongedog Squareleg. My own suggestion of Andy Surrey was laughed out of the Oval. But eventually the marketing team at Surrey CC plumped for Kenny Kennington as the name of their new mascot: a large fluffy dog with the physique of the Honey Monster and a mean line in oversized sneakers.

I was fortunate enough to be offered the gig of filling those shoes when Kenny was invited down to Craven Cottage to join Fulham FC mascot Billy the Badger before their game with Sunderland last April. I wrote a mainly anodyne piece about it at the time for the Surrey website.

But here is the real version.

Kenny Kennington was nervous before the day. Kenny felt unprepared. He’d read about method acting and knew of the techniques advanced by Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio. But plans to spend a month at Battersea Dogs Home, following his canine comrades and learning something of their ways, fell by the wayside. Kenny didn’t even know what his breed was. What was his motivation?

On arrival at the Cottage I was directed to one of the corporate boxes to meet Billy the Badger. Billy was big news in the mascot world. A few weeks previous he’d delighted the folk of Fulham with an impromptu and athletic show of break-dancing on the pitch at half-time. Building his part maybe, but the performance had earned him a mention on Soccer AM no less. As a mere novice of the mascot art, the thought of meeting Billy was an intimidating one.

Billy was actually Roger. A fidgety and gap-toothed fellow who confided in me that he is actually a Liverpool fan. That’s a secret by the way. He’d pitched up earlier to give him ample time to get into character. I needed time to get into the Kenny suit: it’s a minor feat of human engineering. I too was attempting to find my character, but I don’t think Roger appreciated it when I tried to sniff his bum.

The occupational hazards of the mascot trade were quickly revealed to me. Even on a chillsome Spring day temperatures inside the suit reached the levels of a kiln. It occured to me that human spontaneous combustion is not urban myth: it just happens to mascots. Visibility is poor also. I had a wonderful view of my elephantine sneaks – but not much else.

So Billy and Kenny waddled off. Firstly to fulfil our duties meeting the children at a Fulham FC community day held in the park that adjoins the Cottage. Billy was in his element. This was his home. His sett. Making an exhibition of himself to the rapture of his adoring fans.

Kenny was a different story. Firstly he attracted the mild curiosity of  some of the little perishers. I had resolved before that to really capture the essence of a dog then it would wrong to speak to anyone: I decided instead to woof. However it seems that a proper means of communication is essential when consorting with the younger generation. For when one of the little shits asked if he could punch me in my dog bollocks, he took my responding bark to mean: “please young sir, do your worst”.

The final indignity came when another little blighters ventured an opnion on my footwear. “They’re shit mate”. Cheers. By this time the youthful throng had almost entirely turned their attention to their beloved Billy, leaving Kenny to concentrate on not passing out.

I was later told by a Fulham official who was helping out at the community day that at one point Kenny had wandered off on his own, unaware of his surroundings, and waving at no-one. I was a broken dog.

The highlight of the job was certainly walking out onto the pitch before the game. It proved to be a genuine boyish thrill. And the verbal abuse of the travelling Mackem support seemed benign compared to the stick that had been dished out on the park earlier.

And to prove that every giant furry dog has his day, Kenny Kennington went on to win the prestigious mascot race at Twenty20 finals day at the Rose Bowl later that year. Of course I wasn’t in the suit, but was there to witness it. A proud day for all Kennies everywhere.


Written by harrisharrison

January 24, 2009 at 12:21 pm

One Response

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  1. […] As World Cricket Watch continues on its voyage for worldwide cricket stardom its begun to meet some really esteemed friends. None more so than Kenny Kennington, the Surrey Mascot. On returning briefly to the UK to pick up my England Cricket shirt, I was shocked and excited to find  out that one of my good friend’s from uni was leading a double life, an alter ego if you will (like that of Batman not Superman) . Armed with only a heavily ice padded fur coat and clown shoes he is doing it for the kids and wooing the Oval crowds with a bizarre mix of breakdancing, moonwalking, and some heavy hip hop shit. His Mortal Kombat “finish him” finishing move is the caterpillar round the oval brocking out to beats of Snoop Doggy Dog. Glowing reviews for Kenny keep flooding in, take a look at this one from Spin Magazine here. A day in then life of Kenny Kennington was also published from a rival Kenny in Harris Sport Thoughts. […]

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