Who would win a fight between all the football mascots?

16 mascots scrap to the death to find out who can be crowned the hardest mascot in the football league, once and for all.

Obviously it's not the pie. The pie is great, but it's not the pie. Sorry.

On Friday August 2nd, Wigan Athletic shocked the football world by unveiling their new mascot, Crusty the Pie. This is Crusty the Pie. Say hello to Crusty the Pie. Before it devours you. Before it eats you alive.

Now, whilst Crusty the Pie begs more questions than it answers (questions such as: Is its blood gravy? What use does a giant anthropomorphic pie have for a baseball cap that, evidently, is far too small for his big pie head? Why do its arms... also come out of its face? It has no ears but it has eyebrows. Why? What is the significance of that? Et cetera, et cetera), I don't want to get too bogged down in the transcendental importance of Crusty the Pie. Which I probably could do, to the tune of 5,000 words and paragraphs thicker and chunkier than his own pastry-puffed head.

Instead, what I'll do is decide who would win in a fight between all the best mascots in English football. Yeah. Let's do that. And before you start moaning because your specific team's mascot isn't here, just bear in mind that there was a qualifying round. I have no idea how it worked or when it took place but here we are, down to the final 16. Somehow.

For instance, I don't want Newcastle fans commenting that 'Larry the Massive Lonsdale Shoe' should be in the competition, ok? And I especially don't want to hear from one of the approximately 400 teams that has a nondescript lion as its mascot.

(Note: Full disclosure, I wasn't aware of a 'World Cup of Mascots' taking place over the weekend @MascotSilence, but regardless. This is loads better. This is about them battering each other. This about them scrapping. How is this not better? Tell me. How?)

ROUND OF 16

Gunnersaurus vs Jolly Green Giant

Let's just be clear about this: Gunnersaurus is a fucking nerd. Look at him. He is getting cleaned out. Look at him with his slouchy posture, weirdly pear-shaped hips and arse and of course, that Arsenal baseball cap.

Take, in contrast, the way Jolly Green Giant, the Yeovil Town mascot, is stalking his opposition. Getting right up into Lenny the Lion's grill (Shrewsbury Town). Looking down on him. Quietly telling him to 'Keep walking son, you ain't seen nothing' as though this is the alley outside secondary school the Jolly Green Giant goes to smoke in. Plus, if somebody uses a double negatively incorrectly, you already know they're hard.

It's a wash, this opening fixture. Jolly goes through to the next round after getting Gunnersaurus in a headlock, taking his lunch money, and making him tap out within 15 seconds.

ADVANCES: Jolly Green Giant

Roy Hodgson vs Harry the Hornet

Given the extensive history of beef between former England manager Roy Hodgson and a man in a bumblebee costume, this was one of the more mouthwatering showdowns in the round of 16. God knows how Roy Hodgson managed to qualify for the mascots royal rumble but the important thing is that he did. He's here now.

Alas, this is as far as his run in the tournament will go. In true old-school-cockney, Croydon mafia fashion, he breaks the rules of the competition by attempting to order a hit on Harry the Hornet. Like an actual assassination.

Thankfully, even the grittiest south London hitmen don't take out cuddly football mascots, leaving the Crystal Palace manager disqualified and Harry the Hornet through to the next round with a bye.

Your mortal enemy wins again, Roy. Who's the disgrace now?

ADVANCES: Harry the Hornet

Gully the Seagull vs Crusty the Pie

Rather unfortunate for the newcomer, here, as Crusty the Pie is matched up with a dead-eyed ginger seagull in the first knockout round. Reminder: he is a big fuck-off pie. Reminder: seagulls are bastards. Especially with food.

This one is really horrible, actually. It is really unpleasant to witness. Gully the Seagull shows no mercy and pecks Crusty's arms off, then his eyebrows and, just as the friendly pie's famous smile starts to morph into an expression of pure, abject, terror, Gully pecks his eyes out too.

He then breaks through the crumbly, pastry exterior of his opponent and goes to town on his warm, gravy-coated innards. All whilst emitting noises so primal and so guttural the stadium has to be evacuated for the safety of the spectators. You've seen a seagull go after your chips on the pier by the beach haven't you? Well then. You can imagine.

By the time he is done, there is nothing left but a few shreds of Crusty's Wigan Athletic shorts. A massacre. A complete, ungodly massacre.

Advances: Gully the Seagull

Billy the Badger vs Fred the Red

Leave it to Fulham Football Club, the least threatening football club in existence, a team that literally plays at a cottage and has an entire neutral stand rather than designated away section, to have a friendly badger as their mascot.

Fred the Red mooned a stand full of Leeds United supporters during a preseason friendly a few weeks ago. He isn't losing this one. He kicks the shit out of him. A proper old school beatdown. Smushing his head into the turf and telling Billy the Badger to "Eat it. EAT IT!" That kind of thing.

ADVANCES: Fred the Red

Hammerhead vs Rammie the Ram

A touch of immovable object against the unstoppable force with this matchup, as Rammie and Hammie take their starting positions at the opposing goalmouths and mutually decide that they will settle this as rams, or animate hammers (probably) often do: by butting. By running and butting. By running as hard as they can into the thing they want to kill and butting it, hopefully to death.

Despite being two well-matched adversaries, only one of them can come out on top. Looking at their respective physiques, it has to be Hammerhead, who not only looks like he has a couple of stone of weight on Rammie, but also appears to have the muscle mass to really build up a head of steam once he gets going out of the blocks.

He's also, if you'll notice, wearing goalie gloves. I don't know what the significance of that is, truth be told, but I know it's important. There's something about it. It just shows he's ready. For anything. Hammerhead butts Rammie into Row Z. We have a winner.

ADVANCES: Hammerhead

Boiler Man vs Sammy the Shrimp

Oh Christ, no, not West Bromwich Albion's Boiler Man paired against an actual fucking shrimp. Good god, no. The inhumanity of it. The gore. You thought Gully the Seagull ripping apart Crusty the Pie was a bloodbath, well, this is even more horrific.

Southend United's weird, happy shrimp man with - I think - some form of astigmatism was never going to stand a chance against a boiler. An actual boiler. A thing whose job it is to boil. But with legs, and arms. And teeth, apparently.

I'll spare you the grisly details as they don't really bear thinking about at all unless you never want to sleep again, but all that happens here is Boiler Man body slamming the shrimp boi into the grass, both metaphorically and quite literally just fucking bodying him, and then flipping his temperature dial up to max, essentially grilling Sammy alive beneath him.

It's quite an ordeal to watch, to be honest, and listen to, hearing the aggressive sizzling of the shrimp's outer layer on hot boiler. It does smell lovely, though. There is that. It smells delicious.

Boiler Man, clearly not finished, flips his control panel open and unveils a mouth and - gasp - row after row of razor sharp teeth. Carnage. There's shrimp everywhere. There's shrimp and hot water everywhere. But it does smell great.

ADVANCES: Boiler Man

Pottermus vs Captain Canary

Look, I'll be straight with you: I tried to take Captain Canary's gardening fork off him. It's against the rules. But then he just turned to me, with those eyes, the saddest, most frightening eyes you've ever seen, eyes that say more than words ever could, and I knew that I wasn't taking his fork off him. If I did, I knew I was getting, as they say, 'stabbed to fuck'.

Given Pottermus's thicc nature, there was no escape. He gets deflated like a balloon in an instant.

ADVANCES: Captain Canary

Bertie Bee vs Cyril the Swan

Bertie Bee is, by all accounts, one of the more notorious mascots with the English football league system. He has, to date, rugby tackled a streaker, been sent off for handing the linesman a pair of glasses and starred in an eight-minute long documentary film, during which he receives tactical instructions from Sean Dyche on how to perform his mascot duties optimally. No, really.

That being said, have you ever tangled with a swan? They are fucking deadly. Swans are awful, vicious creatures. Let alone swans that are *squints eyes* about nine foot tall and have grown up on the rough and ready streets of Swansea City.

I'm sorry, Bertie. You're getting thoroughly dismantled here.

ADVANCES: Cyril the Swan

And then there were eight. To the quarters we go.

QUARTER-FINALS

Gully the Seagull vs Captain Canary

It's a highly-anticipated all avian clash to kick things off in the quarter-final but this one just gets a bit weird, quite frankly, as Gully the Seagull and Captain Canary stand a few feet apart and stare at each other, motionless, with their respective glassy, soulless eyes. Captain Canary even places his gardening fork down.

Several minutes of this pass, with the once-raucous crowd previously baying for bird blood quietening to nothing more than a confused murmur. An eternity goes by and then the two mascots shock everyone by slowly taking a few steps towards each other and... kissing? They just start kissing? Is that allowed? What is going on here? Does a referee need to step in at this point? I have as little idea about what is going on as you at this point.

And then, just like that, and because he is still full of pie, Gully breaks the increasingly erotic embrace and belches, the loudest belch you have ever heard, the sonicboom force of which knocks Captain Canary over, onto his back, where he is - can you believe it? Can you actually believe it? - impaled on his own gardening fork.

You hate to see it, but still, falling upon your own weapon? That, it has to be said, really is a fate befitting of two of the greatest semi-mythical warriors of all time. Captain Canary and Ajax in Homer's Iliad.

Yes, yes I have maybe run out of ideas on how to resolve these very specific football mascot battles.

ADVANCES: Gully the Seagull

Jolly Green Giant vs Cyril the Swan

Jolly Green Giant (JGG) up against Cyril the Swan (Big Cyril). Not since Zat Knight man-marked Peter Crouch, which I assume happened at several distinct points throughout the 00s, have two taller, er, things, gone head-to-head on a football pitch.

This one is over quickly, however, as Big Cyril's poor range of neck movement and complete lack of a proper field of vision (as you can see above, he can't look anywhere other than at the ground) leads to him getting his head boxed in.

JGG, by the way, has exceptionally quick feet for a big man and was an amateur boxer in his youth. And it shows. It really shows. Although he is, unfortunately, no relation to GGG.

ADVANCES: Jolly Green Giant

Fred the Red vs Boiler Man

Arguably the tastiest of the quarter-final games after the all-bird rivalry descended into a mating ritual, Fred the Red versus Boiler Man lives up to its billing.

It's one for the heads, this, evolving from a straightforward brawl into a real slow-burn tactical battle.

You see Boiler Man's greatest strength is his ability to generate, and then distribute, hot water. As it happens, because Fred the Red is a devil, and therefore from hell, which is hot, presumably, he is immune to the impacts the prolonged exposure to Boiler Man's endless heat would otherwise have.

But then, in turn, Boiler Man is just a boiler, and therefore Fred can't really hurt him. He can punch and kick and grapple all he likes, but he's not hurting a boiler. It's a big, hard box. You're not hurting it.

So yeah. This one goes on for a while. Boiler Man eventually takes it after jabbing one of his sharp corners into Fred's eye, blinding him. He then de-gloves one of his hands and shoves it deep inside Fred's mouth until he suffocates.

It's not pretty, it's not pretty at all, but Boiler Man is through to the semis.

ADVANCES: Boiler Man

Harry the Hornet vs Hammerhead

Hammerhead just squishes Harry the Hornet. With his head. He squishes him. Hornets are a kind of wasp, and wasps are a kind of insects, and insects, I'm afraid, are a thing that can be squished. They are a thing that goes squish and is squished and makes a squish noise when they are. Particular under hammers.

ADVANCES: Hammerhead

SEMI-FINALS

Gully the Seagull vs Jolly Green Giant

The first semi-final gets off to a whirlwind of a start as Gully the Seagull flies up, swoops down, and steals Jolly Green Giant's hat, revealing a sizeable bald spot.

Particularly sensitive about his male pattern baldness, and the fact he only wears the hat so he can bump up the height on his Hinge profile, Jolly Green Giant storms off to his car.

At this point you're thinking that Gully is going to go through to the final, unthinkably by default, but Jolly soon returns to the arena of conflict with a farmer's shotgun in hand. Shit!

Gully, clearly panicked by the appearance of a deadly weapon, drops the hat out of his mouth and attempts to fly away back to Brighton. Bang. One shell tears through his right wing and he begins spiralling around in the air, a bird out of control. Bang. Another shatters the left wing and a messy cloud of feathers begins careering towards the earth. Gully is dead before he even lands.

The Green Giant rests the shotgun against his shoulder, picks his hat back up, dusts it off, and gently places it back on his head. "Not so fucking Jolly anymore, am I? Bird c**t."

Jesus, Jolly. It's just a game mate. Fucking hell. Calm down, yeah?

ADVANCES: Jolly Green Giant

Boiler Man vs Hammerhead

Probably the two mascots fans most wanted to see go toe-to-toe in the final, Boiler Man and Hammerhead nevertheless meet in the semis for a matchup billed, quite simply, as: "A boiler versus a hammer".

Hammerhead begins the fight by doing what he does best: hammering. With his head. Like a Tony Pulis back four consisting entirely of centre backs it is a reductive, brutalist tactic but you know what they say, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Boiler Man, in response, chooses to accept the punishment. Which I guess isn't really a response at all. What follows is just a lot of uncoordinated bashing as Hammerhead, slowly but surely, begins denting the outer casing of Boiler Man and eventually cracking open the console cover.

That was his first mistake. His second mistake was to keep hammering away, despite the lack of resistance from Boiler Man.

As he does so, he inadvertently bursts one of Boiler Man's internal pipes which - and I'm no heating engineer, if that wasn't obvious - starts leaking gas. Upon smelling gas, Hammerhead pauses, lifts his chin up to the sky, and says "I can smell gas", which is the thing everyone has to do whenever they smell gas. It's just the law, isn't it? The "I can smell gas law". You have to do it. Sensing his opportunity, Boiler Man pulls a screwdriver out of his sock and starts recklessly jamming it into Hammerhead's only weakness - the gaps in the hammer-armour located around his joints.

It's a tactical masterclass. Hammerhead is soon crippled over in agony and Boiler Man goes through to meet the Jolly Green Giant in the final.

ADVANCES: Boiler Man

THE FINAL

Jolly Green Giant vs Boiler Man

Both of these two gladiators arrive at the final beaten and bruised. The Jolly Green Giant has a black eye, several open cuts on his shoulders and neck, possibly from a giant swan pecking him, and is hobbling. Boiler Man has dents all over his... boiler, but has managed to duct tape the casing back together. He is still leaking gas. They lock hands on arms and grapple. Mano a mano. Green giant on combi boiler.

Whilst JGG struggles to get to grips properly with Boiler Man's distinct edges, he is by far the bigger of the two warriors and manages to throw his opponent down, hard, to the turf. With Boiler Man now stranded on his back like an overturned, box-shaped turtle, far from an ideal situation for any Ideal branded heating unit to be in, JGG once again reaches for the farmer's shotty.

Resting against upright against the advertising hoardings he picks it up, begins walking back to Boiler Man and starts firing off rounds. Bang. One shell goes straight into the boiler casing. Bang. Another. Reload. Bang. This one zips past Boiler Man's head. Which is also the boiler itself. Somehow that works. We haven't discussed that yet, or how he can see or anything, but it does, definitely, work. And it is too late to evaluate properly now. Bang. Straight through the front of the unit, blowing the duct-taped cover off.

All hope is lost. The fan favourite is on his back with an angry Jolly Green Giant looming over him and a shotgun in his face, which, again, is also just the boiler itself. The fight is over. JGG squares his shoulders, jabs the shotgun right up against Boiler Man's head/face/boiler/brains? and squeezes the trigger.

What an idiot. What an absolute cretin. Both fighters are lost deep in the extravagant flames of the explosion. There is smoke. There is the smell of burning mascot carcass lingering in the air. There are bodies. The explosion took them both.

As paramedics rushed to the scene to attend to the two fallen athletes, it's hard not to consider the very nature of the boiler. A thing, yes, designed to break absolutely all the fucking time. A thing so hard and rigid and yet so fragile, so unreliable, ready to break down on the chilly first day of a winter month for no reason at all.

But then, that's the other thing. Boilers are designed to be repaired. They are designed to be fixed after a four-hour callout from a man named Gerald from Woking who keeps a pen behind his ear and likes his tea strong. And his biscuits stronger. Hobnobs ideally.

The smoke clears and all that is left of Jolly Green Giant is, regrettably, a tall, stiff lump of green ash. But Boiler Man? Boiler Man was alive. Or at least as alive as an anthropomorphic boiler can be.

"We can rebuild him," the paramedics said. "We can make him stronger." But, as if to say "No need", or "Don't trouble yourself, lads", Boiler Man slowly arose from the turf, patted himself down and to the sound of a standing ovation from all that were there to witness this miracle, began trudging off the pitch.

He has Millwall at the Hawthorns on Saturday. He can't miss it. He wouldn't miss it for the world.

"There he goes," one English football league mascot fan whispered to another.

"There goes the finest English football league mascot the world has ever seen."