Cyril the Swan falls for the dark side of the media as AS Thomas reports
I know a young boy who is paralysed from the neck down after a horrific road accident. He currently resides at Swansea’s Singleton Hospital and is a Swans fanatic. In fact the local press recently had pictures of him being visited by some of the players and the now-famous mascot, Cyril the Swan. At the time he was promised by the club that should he want Cyril to come up for his birthday, then it would be arranged.
Only it never happened. Instead, someone from the club phoned and said: “Due to the club’s recent FA Cup success, Cyril will not be able to fulfil his current obligations as he has a busy schedule being interviewed by the press, including the Sun.”
A two-page spread duly appeared laced with numerous ornithological gags which made a mockery of the club and the people of Swansea – and there was worse still in the Monday edition after the match which reported “a kick around with Rammy the Ram – a brave character to travel to Wales given what can happen to sheep in these parts”.
The whole rationale for creating Cyril in the first place was to put some gloss on the marketing of the club and to attract youngsters who, as commercial director Mike Lewis is quoted as saying “are the club’s future”. When the dust settles from Swansea’s FA Cup romance and the press move out of town, no doubt the club will resort to the line that good old Cyril just loves the kids. Only this time some will know better.
This argument cuts much deeper than distate for the crass antics of a costumed mascot. Swansea City has always been proud of its links with the people of the locality. To throw it away on mercenary projects just to get a few bob in the coffers is inexcusable, especially when John Hollins has done so much to build bridges and bring the fans back.
The club should be ashamed that it allowed itself to be caught in the headlights of the Rupert Murdoch express without realising how much they would alienate fans with the Sun-sponsored antics on display at the Derby game. Anyone inclined to think it was just a bit of fun should be thankful that when Cyril went walkabout around the Vetch in a Sun T-shirt, waving a flag emblazoned with the newspaper’s logo, Swansea’s opponents were Derby and not Liverpool.
From WSC 145 March 1999. What was happening this month