Thursday 26 April 2018

Ronaldo the bull set for Wembley debut

Ronaldo the bull is set to appear at Wembley Stadium
Ronaldo the bull is set to appear at Wembley Stadium

Crowds at Wembley will witness an unusual footballing sight when Ronaldo is paraded at the ground ahead of a minor league final.

A Hereford bull which shares the name of the Portuguese professional will visit the north west London venue ahead of the FA Vase final on Sunday.

The five-year-old beast, whose full name is Hawkesbury 1 Ronaldo, is the mascot for the newly formed Hereford FC who will be playing Morpeth Town.

Hereford FC chairman Jon Hale said having Ronaldo, who weighs 1,200kg, join the team and the fans is a "big moment", as is the club playing at Wembley for the first time.

The 43-year-old said: "We did not in our right mind think that we would be able to get him into Wembley, but after a lot hard work and a lot of paper shuffling it is happening.

"It was a big hurdle to climb because they have never allowed anything like this to happen at Wembley. It is a great thing for Hereford FC and Herefordshire as well, we are absolutely delighted."

The FA has given the club, also known as the Hereford Bulls, permission for the animal owned by Westons Cider to join them before the match and be paraded for 30 minutes.

Mr Hale said Ronaldo has been present at a few of their games this season, adding: "He is used to big crowds and has made a number of public appearances before in front of several thousand people, so we are not too concerned about his overall behaviour."

And despite all the seats in Wembley currently red in colour, Mr Hale joked that he hopes the bull is "colour blind".

"He has been a lucky mascot to us so far, and we are very, very hopeful he will stir the emotions and get us over the line again," he said.

"I am sure everybody will enjoy seeing him there, he will lap it up and I am glad I am not the one that is following him with the bucket."

Around 19,000 Hereford FC fans will be joining their team and their mascot at Wembley for the match. The club, who are in the ninth tier of English football, formed last year after Hereford United was dissolved.

Ronaldo is being driven down to the capital in a specially protected cattle wagon ahead of the game.

Mr Hale said: "I hope all the supporters get in the ground nice and early and give him a big cheer because he loves the attention - you can see it in his face. He is so calm and collected."

A Football Association spokesman confirmed Ronaldo was the first bull to visit the stadium.

He added: "We are pleased to welcome all teams for the first ever non-league finals day at Wembley Stadium.

"Ronaldo the Bull is a huge part of Hereford FC and it will be great for fans to see him paraded in the stadium before their FA Vase fixture against Morpeth Town."

Press Association

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