Cross Keys mascot is a Panda called Pandy (for now)
3:13pm Sunday 1st September 2013 in News
The Cross Keys RFC panda mascot made his home debut at the game against Newport at Pandy Park (995373)
WHEN Cross Keys coach Greg Woods paraded his new signings to the squad ahead of the season, he told them he was keeping the biggest one until last.
The players waited intrigued, wondering if it would be a former International or Principality Premiership stalwart. Surely it couldn't be a former All Black or French player? Who was the special signing Woods was keeping under wraps?
They had a huge shock when a human-sized, fluffy panda came running out and began shaking their hands.
The new Cross Keys mascot was unveiled to the home crowd before Saturday’s victory over Newport and has caused as big a stir locally as panda Tian Tian has at Edinburgh Zoo on a national level.
But, while UK tabloid headlines have focused on whether Tian Tian is pregnant, the big question in Cross Keys is what their new arrival will be called.
Known as Pandy Park’s Panda for now, local schoolchildren, who mobbed their new hero on Saturday, have been tasked with coming up with a permanent name.
Club chairman Colin Vernall said: “He went down like a bomb and was very popular.
"Everyone wanted to have their picture taken with him, even sponsors and I don’t think I’ve seen as many children at the ground.”
The costume was bought for £65 on Ebay by director of marketing Angie Prangell, to inject a bit of fun into match days and get more youngsters enjoying the Pandy Park experience.
While she donned the costume when the Panda met players, supporters will take on the persona for matches.
The panda will now tour local schools and encourage children to join the Panda Club, with all members having an opportunity to try and name him.
Ms Prangell said: “He will be at all home matches to keep the children occupied and also on the touchline, encouraging the crowd and winding up the opposition.”
There could, however, be some panda-shaped rivalry during the season.
There could be an interesting face-off later this month. Pontypridd are the visitors to Pandy Park on September 21 and if they bring their mascot, Ponty Panda, with them, the bamboo battle on the touchline could make a very colourful sub-plot to the action on the field.
Cross Keys’ new arrival joins a couple of other colourful characters who have been helping to support their chosen sides.
The Newport Gwent Dragons are cheered on Rodney the Dragon while Spytty the Dog can be seen running up and down the touchline at Newport County matches.
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