Nothing like the pure joie de vivre of watching a streaker slightly ruin a sporting event, is there? Nothing like watching Lianne Croft bound into the crucible during the 1997 Masters Final and just sort of jump around a bit before being bundled into a bouncer's suit jacket. Or a lad in sunglasses getting cheerfully pummelled by a Finnish football team after ruining their goal. Or like the Reading fan, "Pudding", who delighted the crowds at Monday's Reading-Bradford FA Cup quarter final replay by sprinting onto the pitch, running around a bit like a happy puppy, then doing four forward flips before getting escorted away by the police.
Pudding – or Charlie Sumner, as his mum and most of his friends call him, because that is his name – called the VICE offices at about 2PM yesterday, because we asked him to. 'If you are the streaker, please call us,' we said, and he did. It worked. The system finally worked. "Hey," our receptionist said, "Pudding's on the phone for you." What an amazing way to start a phone conversation.
What followed was an amiable ten-minute chat with probably the nicest dude alive. Charlie Sumner sounds like he had the best 20 seconds of his life doing forward rolls into the semi-solid Madejski Stadium turf, and even seemed chirpy about the night he spent behind bars. He's come home to a Facebook profile bursting with friend requests, hundreds of people calling him a legend and a slightly sore neck. I asked him why he did it.
VICE: Why did you do it?
Pudding, streaker: Well, it started off as banter really, with my mates. I don't really go to matches and it was my first match with my mates and they just started off by saying, 'go on the pitch, go on,' and I thought about it and went for it.
So last night was your first game?
Yeah, with my mates. I used to go when I was younger with my parents. But last night was my first game with my mates.
It's hard to tell because you'd torn your top off, but which team were you supporting?
I was in the Reading end.
So this isn't, like, 'a thing'?
No. I'm actually a Liverpool fan. So, yeah, but I do support Reading as obviously I'm from Reading and they done brilliant, but I just happened to be there with my mates.
It was quite the debut that you made, to say that it was your first go at streaking. You made headlines.
Yeah, I know. It's been mental, my phone's been non-stop really and obviously on Facebook I've had friend requests and messages. I've seen it everywhere, really. I couldn't believe it.
So are you thinking of maybe lining up a few streaker appearances, maybe at the semi-final?
Yeah, maybe. Sounds good. A few people have mentioned it and I'm going to look into it. We'll see.1
1. Pudding later called back to say, 'Actually, my mate who does video stuff is planning something, so I'll let you know, yeah?' so needless to say: watch the Reading-Arsenal FA Cup semi-final if you want to see Pudding on the pitch, again.↩
It looked like it was a lot of fun. What's it like being on the pitch and then have everyone hate you, and then slowly start to cheer you on?
That was brilliant when that happened. I got on the pitch and I didn't know what to do really, the pitch was so big. The whole stadium was packed and then I didn't think of anything to do, so I just ran around the side and… I don't know where the flip came from. I've never done that in my life. My back's a bit sore, now.
Have you tried to recreate it?
I've actually not long got out of Newbury Police Station. They took me down there.
What happened when they caught you?
I could see them all coming towards me obviously, and I didn't want to kick off or start pushing around or whatever2. I just thought, 'I've had my fun. I've had a run' and I got a bit out of breath so I did a few flips and they grabbed me and took me away. But they saw the funny side of it anyway, so that was good.
2. Especially relevant because, physique-wise, Pudding could tear you in half like a phonebook↩
That's good. So you weren't too roughly treated.
It was fine actually. It was brilliant.
You didn't get to watch the end of the game then, I'm guessing.
Nah, I didn't sadly.
Did they take you into a special room in the back for streakers?
I thought they were going to. A little VIP area. But I didn't quite get that, no. Straight in the back of a van actually. I thought I was going to get champagne, but it didn't work out.
I can't believe you didn't at least get a football shirt or something like that
So what happened then? They took you to a police station – did you get arrested? Charged?
Yeah, they've put me on bail and I've got to wait for a court hearing. I've got to go to court.
That's such a weird reaction.
They all saw the funny side of it and were laughing, but said that by law they have to do their job and do what they have to do. They were all coming to my cell saying, "Were you the one on TV who went on the pitch?"
So how long were you in there? It doesn't sound like the worst prison ordeal I've ever heard.
It was alright, to be fair. Especially with them all coming to the cell. I didn't know what was happening outside and it was brilliant. That's what I did it for really. I love having a good time, it makes everyone happy so that's brilliant.
It actually sounds really fun. It doesn't sound like you went to the match thinking, 'Oh yeah, I'm going to run on the pitch.' It was a proper spur of the moment thing, right?
Yeah, definitely. But I was at the pub before—
Obviously— and we were talking, having banter and a few drinks and it just cropped up just before we got there. Like, "You should go on the pitch. Just as a joke." Then obviously I was there half time and I went to the toilet and went back out and then I just went for it. It was really funny because I was walking down the stairs and all the seats were packed and I was trying to pretend I was looking for my seat and I was looking at the security guard and then I just dashed and made a run for it.
Good streaker tip. Did you have to jump over anything or did you just go straight on the pitch?
Yeah, sort of. It's like a chain. There was a barrier but then there was a section with a little chain and I just jumped over that. I was going to do a flip over that but I probably wouldn't have made it on the pitch then.
Did you actually think you would make it on when you first started running?
Yeah, I thought I was going to get chucked straight back off but I managed to wiggle my way through. The adrenaline was brilliant. It was amazing.
Are you known among your mates as the kind of guy who does spur-of-the-moment stuff?
Yeah, I suppose I am. I go out a lot and have a laugh and that and I'm always up for doing stuff like that, so this reaction has been brilliant.
Have you ever done anything close to the level of this?
Probably not. This tops it, I think. It's going to be hard to beat this but I'll give it a go.
The other thing is – I'm seeing this image going around. "Who's on the pitch? Pudding's on the pitch."
Yeah, that's it.
Where did that name come from?
That's just from school. I used to be quite overweight and that's just it and as soon as I got that nickname it just stuck with me all these years. I love it.
It sounds like you had a lot of fun, all told: you didn't get roughhoused in jail, you're a minor celebrity and Reading are through to the next round of the FA Cup. Do you see yourself causing chaos at the next game?
Probably Wembley. Imagine that.
Thank you, Pudding.
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