There are many interesting things that have happened on a football field: dodgy goals, missed kicks, referees missing obvious goals etc, but one of the most bizarre things happened during Reading’s home game against Newcastle United in 2007.
Reading’s first season back in the top flight had been a productive one and the 1-0 home win against Newcastle kept us seventh in the table. After Reading had taken the lead through Dave Kitson scoring from a Seol Ki-Hyeon cross, Kingsley got a little animated and a tad too close to the pitch.
Kingsley, ever the predator, like most football players got a little too close to the pitch on a number of occasions, and finally referee Mike Riley had enough of the seven-foot lion in a Reading FC shirt, and sent him off from the field of play. Around the minute mark you can see this happening!
The reasoning for this, so it would seem, is that the linesman was confused between a football player and a cuddly lion.
It does seem that after the adventurous centre forward, that was Kingsley, was sent to the stand, the game limped on. By all accounts a seven-foot lion was the most dangerous predator on the pitch, including a certain Michael Owen.
During the interviews after the game, Reading manager Steve Coppell was quoted as saying: “I can see where the referee was getting confused. He does look like so many of my players!”
I am sure that Coppell was a popular figure in training on the Monday!
We never did find out what punishment the reprobate got for such a dastardly act, and indeed his antics were called into question before kick-off with one Reading fan quoted as saying: “He was play-fighting before one game and pretended to go down. He was on the ground for quite some time, not moving, and after about 15 minutes - when the team were out of the tunnel - a number of us in the stands were actually concerned.
”He might have been in need of urgent medical attention and was being ignored by officials because he was a big, furry lion. Just as I went to speak to a steward, though, he got up.”
It does seem though to this day that the mascot hasn’t learned his lesson, with much play acting on the sides of the pitch during Reading’s home games.