06 November, 2007

Mascot of The Week 9

Name – Harry the Hornet

Affiliation – Watford F.C.

Animal – Hornet (Vespula Vulgaris for all you brains out there)

Colour – Yellow, Red and Black

Level of Ridiculousness – 6

Most common missile pelted with – Purple valour suit jackets and ridiculously shaped glasses

Let’s be honest, hornets are not exactly the most pleasant of animals, in fact the whole Vespidae species is, as a general rule, pretty horrible. However, fighting this lifelong stigma, Harry has emerged as one of the best all round Mascots currently working the circuit, updating his image every few years to stay ahead of the competition. A master of misdirection, Harry has also been known to dress up in various other guises to keep the general public on their toes. Most famously, in 2006 when Watford hosted an Italian weekend, Harry's ‘cousin,’ Harry the Hornetto, was let loose on the unsuspecting town. Even though Signore Hornetto looked suspiciously like Harry, only with Italian clothes and a pencil moustache, this went down a treat with the confused locals. He has also been known to don a James Bond-style tuxedo for special events, and used to ape Ray Charles’ performance in The Blues Brothers, whipping the crowd into a frenzy with his rendition of “Shake Your Tailfeather,” despite having a very menacing stinger where his ‘tailfeather’ should be.

Perhaps the greatest day in Harry’s life came in August 1998 though, when he married local IT Insect, Harriet, at Vicarage Road before the start of the Watford vs Wolves match. With longtime best pal Wolfie the Wolf acting as his best man, the day was an absolute joy, rounding off with a not-at-all embarrassing mass singalong of “Elton John’s Taylor-Made Army” at the ceremony’s conclusion. From here on, Harry and Harriet were inseparable, flouncing around the pitch together whenever possible. However, the sheer similarity of their appearance lead to some crowd murmours that the two might in fact be related to one another, and that was why they were yet to produce a Baby Hornet. Perhaps the best explanation for all this is simply that in the future Harry discovers the secret of time manipulation, then travels back in time to marry his younger self, sporting a slightly longer shirt and exaggerated eye-lashes by way of a disguise.

Anyway……… a natural athlete from a young age, Harry has always been a serious contender in the epic Football Furlong, which takes place annually at Huntingdon Racecource, even streaking to victory (not literally) in the 2000 event -

Controversy surrounded the following year’s event however, when several other dissenting members of the mascot community feared another whitewash. While we will never truly know what happened on that fateful day in July, this much is clear: while Cyril the Swan created a diversion by cracking some female spectator in the face, Harry suffered a “fall,” which resulted in him breaking two ribs and having to withdraw from the race altogether. Enraged by what she saw, Harriet still pushed on and managed to finish second in the end, but for years, this incident haunted poor Harry. It was only last year in fact that Harry actually returned to running competitively, choosing the London Marathon for his big comeback, raising more than £15,000 for charity in the process.

Sadly, as is so often the case with philanthropists, Harry was brutally sacked this year, via text message no less, leaving his life in tatters. Some have suggested that Elton John got jealous of the costume and forced Harry out, while others have said that Harriet is making a play for the staring role after sleeping with the club’s kit manager. All that is clear is this: the fact that he was recently caught on camera telling a young fan in the Watford home end to “fuck off” has absolutely nothing to do with it.

R.I.P Harry the Hornet/Hornetto, maybe one day the world will be once again ready to be intoxicated by your secreted venom.

UPDATE: Check out Harry's masterful appearance on Mascot Mastermind, a feast of Watford trivia.