Referee M.A. Riley ejected Reading's mascot, Kingsley the Giant Lion, minutes before halftime of the Royals' game against Newcastle United on Monday. Kingsley, who wears a Reading jersey over his fur, roared the team on from the sideline, which apparently confused Riley. "I can see where the referee was getting confused, you know he does look like so many of my players," joked Reading coach Steve Coppell, whose team managed a 1-0 despite lacking its lion. Mascot expulsions in Britain are not without precedent.
Four years ago in Scotland, St. Mirren's Paisley Panda was ousted for wiping his backside with a Falkirk jersey. Swansea's Cyril the Swan once got in big trouble for ripping off the Millwall Lion's head and drop-kicking it into the stands. Wolverhampton Wolfie's all-out brawl with the Bristol City Catand the Three Little Pigs was one of the darkest episodes in mascot history.
Two years ago, RefereeLee Probert ejected Queens Park Rangers' mascot Jude the Cat for protesting an offside call, prompting QPR coach Ian Holloway to say, "The ref is from my neck of the woods and down there people say, 'There's one in every village.'" Jude, as one would expect from a cat, showed little contrition. He told the BBC. "How can I be mistaken for a player? I'm a 7-foot black cat!"