This article originally appeared on VICE Sports UK.
While football fans attend matches predominantly to watch football, there is one supplementary form of entertainment which makes the experience truly worthwhile. No, it's not the six or seven pints people sink with their mates prior to kick off, which promptly render the entire game pointless in that it is almost impossible to comprehend, let alone remember. Nor is it the tacit acceptance of grown men repeatedly shouting "CUNT" at other, more talented, grown men, in front of their embarrassed and profoundly unhappy kids. Nay, it is a far nobler form of entertainment, one which, rather than simply increase one's chances of a matchday banning order, enriches the mind and stirs the soul.
The entertainment of which we speak is inspired, of course, by the idiosyncratic behaviour of the club mascot. The mascot is a strange and wonderful creature, in that it looks like some sort of Narnian curiosity but is in fact a fortysomething father of three. Hidden away in a fluffy great suit, semi-delirious from the heat of the costume, the mascot leaps and prances about the sidelines, high-fiving kids and posing for selfies. This is football at its most innocent, football at its most edifying, even if it is occasionally punctuated by unsavoury incidents involving mascot-on-mascot violence and drugs.
If football mascots are, by and large, the spiritual custodians of the matchday experience, then Harry the Hornet is the chief pastor and ultimate shepherd of our lost and unruly flock. Watford's mascot won thousands of converts during the surprise defeat of Manchester United on Sunday, dabbing furiously, banging his drum and dancing reverentially alongside Etienne Capoue, inspiring the team to claim victory over Jose Mourinho's side. He had an almost shamanic aura about him, conjuring up three points for Watford with only his semi-religious sense of enthusiasm and – seriously, is he still fucking banging it? – admirable commitment to smashing that drum.
Having gone down a storm among fans and pundits alike, Harry the Hornet is now the high priest of English football, and the greatest mascot in the Premier League. He is a true talisman, a symbol of victory, a reminder that dressing up in a costume and banging a drum need not be the preserve of the unhappy Stomp extra, but actually the manifestation of the highest human dream. He's has reached the pinnacle of mascot success, even if he is not the first to scale it. When he wins online polls at the rate that Gunnersaurus does, then, and only then, will he ascend to the heavens themselves.