Kingsley, a 7-foot-tall (2.1 m) bipedal lion, is the official mascot of Reading Football Club. He was first seen during the 1997-98 season. Up until the end of the 2005-06 season he was played by Noel Selby Armstrong, who has since been appointed assistant kit manager at Reading.
The new man in the mask is Reading-born Andrew Hulbert. On 25 March 2007, Kingsley ran the Reading Half Marathon raising money for the Bobby Moore Fund for Cancer Research UK. Kingsley was profiled in the Premier League weekly preview show on 16 March 2007.
The lion has been adopted as an unofficial symbol of Reading, due to the presence in the town of the Maiwand Lion.
Kingsley wears a shirt with the squad number 1871, the year Reading FC was founded.
The Riley incident
During the first half of the home match against Newcastle United FC on 30 April 2007 Kingsley was shown a red card by referee Mike Riley for standing too close to the pitch. It was reported that one of Riley's assistants confused Kingsley for one of the players and almost flagged him for offside. Steve Coppell, the Reading manager, said "I can see where the referee was getting confused. He does look like so many of my players." He is to study video footage of the incident before deciding whether to take any disciplinary action.
The FA is investigating an allegation that Kingsley made "inflammatory gestures" which is the first time a club mascot has been officially reported to the FA. A spokesman for the FA said: "The referee reported to us that he had spoken to Reading officials and he has reported to us that the mascot made a number of inflammatory gestures. I don’t know what the gestures were and we are now making further enquiries and will look at video evidence." The spokesman added he could not say for certain what punishment Kingsley might face but it might result in the mascot being given an official warning.
Jon Keen, of Supporters’ Trust At Reading (STAR), said: "My initial reaction is Mike Riley needs to get a life. Kingsley was getting into the spirit of it all, sometimes it’s good not to take football too seriously". Club spokesman Andy West said: "We have no other comment than we’ll co-operate with the FA if they ask us to.".
- "Lion given marching orders". BBC Berkshire. 2007-04-30. Retrieved 2007-05-02.
- Russell Kempson (2007-05-02). "Riley bites off more than he can chew with Madejski lion bar". The Times. Retrieved 2007-05-02.
- "Kingsley faces FA probe for row". Reading Evening Post. 2007-05-02. Archived from the original on 2007-05-04. Retrieved 2007-05-02.
- Russell Kempson (2007-05-03). "King of the Jungle free to roar one more time". The Times. Retrieved 2007-05-03.