19 February, 2008

Mascot of the Week 16

Name – The Deepdale Duck

Affiliation – Preston North End

Animal – Duck

Colour – Yellow and Black

Level of Ridiculousness – 7

Most common missile pelted with – Socialist propaganda (Karl Marx once called Preston “the next St Petersberg” don’t you know…)

The Deepdale Duck is a complicated creature, blessed with a selfless streak of altruism but also cursed with a venomous temper. Growing up alone in the mean streets of Preston, after his parents were both tragically hit by a rowing boat and killed, the Deepdale Duck had to fight to survive. He flew from pond to pond, and like a mercenary, devoured any bread or nuts he could get his beak on, even if it meant fighting swans or pheasants. Living wing to beak only got him so far, and before long he sought solace only in hedonism, wasting away in a patch of reeds behind the Preston railway station. Legend has it that 10 years ago, Preston manager David Moyes stumbled upon the Deepdale Duck free-basing cookie dough, and took it upon himself to get the large drake back on his feet.

After a rigorous weeklong course in anger-management, the fighting and dough-abuse was behind him, instead throwing himself into positive actions such as road safety campaigns and community collectives. Often he was to be found at local schools bright and early to help teachers with assemblies or hymn practice, while other times he was coaching young kids in the art of football wing-play. While staying close to his sponsor Moyes through this difficult period, it wasn’t long before Preston North End had a fantastic opportunity to offer the Duck.

The club presented him with a tailor-made shirt and a special pair of enormous boots, completing the rebirth of this once-tragic bird who was struggling to survive less than a year previously by giving wingjobs outside kebab houses just to afford a couple of pitas. Excuse the pun, but he took to the task of club mascot like a duck to water, quickly developing a signature move of stretching his wings with the substitutes and copying their every move, with hilarious consequences. The fans loved him and so did the players, but understandably the opposition consistently fought for a touchline ban against the talismanic Duck.

Feathers flew not long into his career when a fracas occurred between the Deepdale Duck and Blackburn Rovers keeper Tim Flowers. Preston had lost 6 – 0 away in the first leg so the tie was essentially beyond them, but this did not put the Duck off. As soon as the game kicked off, the Duck wandered towards Flowers’ goal, leaned on a post and started a campaign of intimidation unlike any seen before or since. North End subsequently went onto score, and a teary-eyed Flowers protested to the linesman that the Deepdale Duck simply had to be removed from the pitch. Sources suggest that had the Duck been allowed to stay near Tim Flowers and kept cussing him for 90 minutes, Preston undoubtedly would’ve won the tie 7 – 6 overall on aggregate. Speaking exclusively to STT today, he had these enigmatic words: “My wings have been clipped a couple of times and since then I have adjusted my behaviour and don't go anywhere near the goals or on the sideline. I am a reformed character."

Since word has spread on the Duck’s fierce beak and vital contributions to Preston over the years, several grounds have actually gone so far as to ban him altogether. Publicity officer John Booth responded to us with these words: “He's more of an icon really and has his own merchandise; he's part of the set-up here.” In our mind these clubs are truly quackers for preventing the appearance of such a legend on their hallowed turf.