Stirring the hornet’s nest


Harry the Hornet. Photo by Jack Tanner,

In this season of good cheer, I write in defence of Watford mascot Harry the Hornet. He got a ticking off last weekend following an incident at the end of the Watford – Crystal Palace game. His crime? Mocking Wilfried Zaha.

We live in a rather sad world in which many people will take offence at the drop of a hat. And sure enough it was a ‘drop’ that was at the heart of this sorry saga. As Zaha applauded the Palace fans, hornet Harry ‘took a comedy dive.’ Zaha had been booked in the game for simulation.

Wilfried was apparently incensed by this piece of mascot mockery and had to be restrained as he tried to approach Harry. It’s something of a shame that we were denied a brawl involving a mascot.

New Palace boss big Sam was also angered. Truly comically, he called Harry “out of order” and said that it was a matter that the FA needed to “sort out.” The FA have only just finished sorting out the mess that was Sam’s short reign as England manager so perhaps they would have more pressing matters to attend to.

But alas, the FA, like most official bodies, will never pass up the chance of a bit of virtue signalling. It’s much easier than addressing actual issues in the game such as … oh let me see … diving. Thus it was reported that the FA ‘decided not to pursue the case further but it is understood they had an informal phone conversation with Watford about the incident.’


The FA: “Hi, we just want to have a quick word about the incident with the mascot.”

Watford: “oh yes.”

The FA: “we can all only be grateful and relieved that a serious situation didn’t develop as a result of this irresponsible action. Furthermore, a professional player has suffered grievous injury to his pride.”

Watford: “a most distressing occurrence indeed and we can only apologise unreservedly on behalf of the individual involved. Be assured a thorough internal investigation and review has been launched in order to avoid a repeat of this.”

The FA: “thank you, we’re reassured that you are treating this serious matter with the seriousness that it deserves. We can therefore avoid any official action – such as imposing a three match ban on the mascot – on this occasion. Merry Christmas.”


Watford subsequently issued a phenomenal statement: ‘Watford FC has reminded Harry the Hornet of his responsibilities, which include continuing to have fun and entertain supporters.’

Hahahaha. That must have been an amazing Monday morning meeting. I’d love to know what the full list of Harry’s responsibilities entails but I’m glad that having fun and entertaining supporters are included among them. Of course this is exactly what Harry was doing in gently mocking Zaha so he may be left feeling a little confused as to how to interpret his responsibilities.

I didn’t see the Zaha booking so I don’t know if he did dive or not, although he’s a player that carries a reputation in this regard. It seems to me though that mockery is a perfectly reasonable reaction to diving (or cheating to call it by what it really is) and it should be employed more often. Players should be shamed when they cheat and why not have mascots take a lead in that?

Getting mocked by a grown man who dresses up in a ridiculous costume every other weekend should at least give some pause for thought.

Zaha’s teammate Delaney (another man whom I hope received a sense of humour for Christmas) also hit out at Harry the Hornet, saying: “Maybe he thinks he is more important than he is. For a mascot to be doing that, it’s uncalled for.” Yes Damien, the arrogance of mascots, a real scourge of the modern game.

What’s uncalled for is players who take themselves so seriously that they cannot take a joke.

It can only be hoped that one of the FA’s New Year’s resolutions for 2017 is to clamp down on diving but somehow I doubt it. Unless it involves mascots of course.