With a trip to Watford coming up on Saturday, Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson has forewarned the host team against trying to get a cheap rise out of the travelling fans.
Specifically, Hodgson focused his ire on one particular member of the Watford staff – their team mascot, Harry the Hornet.
Harry incurred the wrath of Palace fans and Sam Allardyce (on his first match in charge of the Eagles) during the corresponding fixture two seasons ago when he mocked Wilfried Zaha for diving.
After full-time in the 1-1 draw, Watford’s mascot threw himself on the ground and writhed in faux ‘pain’ shortly after Zaha had been booked for attempting to con a 90th-minute penalty, leading Allardyce to brand his behaviour “out of order”.
Like the curmudgeonly grandad he truly is, Hodgson let it be known that he won’t tolerate any similar tomfoolery and/or horse(fly) play this time around:
If you’re asking me whether Harry the Hornet, who I presume is the mascot, should dive in that way, I think it’s disgraceful.
Because that’s not what football matches are about. If it’s provoking the crowd into looking for something that’s not there, it should be stopped.
Wilf Zaha does not dive for penalties. He gets knocked over sometimes – sometimes he gets knocked over or unbalanced without it being a penalty or a foul – because he runs at such speed and has such agility with the ball. But he certainly doesn’t dive.
But of course teams try to take every advantage they can. I would be very disappointed if the Palace mascot was doing something like that to provoke the crowd against an opponent.
And if I found out about it, I would stop it.
Two games in and a 71-year-old man has already scalded a large hornet for mis(bee)having – a ‘stinging rebuke’, if you will.
Thank-you Premier League, sincerely.