Les Napsack is a former professional footballer who played as a left-back for a string of mid-table clubs throughout the 80s and 90s. He represented England 12 times, mainly as a substitute. After retiring in 1996, he moved to Spain to open an Irish bar and now spends his days curating karaoke competitions and concentrating on his art projects (which have variously been described as “inspired”, “courageous” and “baffling”). He has kindly given permission for some passages from his autobiography to be reprinted here.
This week, Les gives his thoughts on football mascots.
Mascots are one aspect of the game where I can safely say that things were much better in my day. The quality of mascots through the 80s and 90s was exceptional, far exceeding today’s paltry offerings. There was the odd mis-step here and there, of course (the less said about the ‘Aylesbury Racist’ the better), but take a look at the best modern football has to offer: Gunnersaurus? I wish I hadn’t bloody seen him.
No, give me the classics any day of the week: Barry the Badger, Filbert Fox, The Charlton Chess-piece. Proper mascots, the lot of them. They were all top lads, too; always up for a laugh. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve woken up on somebody else’s couch with a cracking hangover and only a giant furry head to hide my modesty (which, incidentally, was a lot less fun when the head in question belonged to Harry the Huddersfield Hedgehog). These boys would think nothing of going out on an all-night bender then heading straight to the match the next day. That’s just how it was. But it’s all hair gel and Zumba now with these modern fellas, I’ve no time for them.
When it comes to my favourite mascot, that honour belongs to Everton’s Toffee Lady. She was a vision of elegance, beauty and charm. That was, until she’d had a few drinks. Then she became friskier than a spaniel on heat! Many’s the time when we’d go out for a few pints and she’d invariably end up showing me her sticky toffee pu—(Editor’s note: for the benefit of our younger readers, this paragraph has been truncated).
-and it took us a good 3 hours to clear all of the ferrets out of the hotel room. Best night of my life.
‘Call me Les’ is out now in all good bookshops, with a foreword by Andy Townsend.