Losing weight to combat health problems is normally a commendable act that only brings rewards like newfound visibility of one's own appendages. But for Bradford City mascot Lenny Berry, it meant that he had to quit his beloved job delighting supporters of the League One club. Because The City Gent was supposed to be fat and Lenny Berry was no longer fat.
From the PA:
Lenny Berry, 59, has been wearing a bowler hat to play Bradford City's City Gent mascot for 20 years. But after he lost weight for health reasons after being diagnosed with diabetes, he said he felt he could no longer play the portly character.
"I'm absolutely gutted. I am a grown man and this is something I have cried over," Mr Berry told Bradford's Telegraph & Argus newspaper.
"I used to have supporters chant things at me, like 'who ate all the pies'. I used to get them going and then grab my belly. I've always had a good rapport with fans."
The Bradford City chief Roger Owen said Mr Berry decided to leave with immediate effect following talks, and that his leaner appearance no longer fitted City Gent's image.
"In the case of The City Gent, the main issue was his physical appearance, which was much changed from the original concept of the then chairman, the late Stafford Heginbotham, who styled The City Gent on himself," he said.
Berry was given the chance to wear a sumo suit and costume head, but he refused because he keeps it real. Though the City Gent will not be replaced as the club's mascot, he did have an exceptional final hurrah last season when Bradford became the first fourth division club to reach the League Cup final since 1962 (they lost 5-0 to Swansea, though) and returned to Wembley at the end of the season, where they won promotion by beating Northampton Town 3-0 in the League Two Playoff Final.
Things had been trending downward for the Gent as a mascot for some time, though. In 2009, the club forced Berry to stop throwing free candies to children (which he paid for out of his own pocket) during matches for fear that he might hit someone in the eye with one or start a child stampede for the sweets. And if you can't throw candies or grab your belly, what's the point in being a mascot anyway?
Tonight, have a pie for the City Gent.