Have you ever wondered how Billy the Badger was created and came to be? Well lucky for us our very own Daniel Smith just happens to be a mate of Kyle Jackson, the inspiration behind Billy the Badger. Fulham Focus sat down with Kyle to have a chat about Billy and why he supports the club…
DS – What made you a Fulham fan? Did anyone influence you in becoming a fan?
KJ – I moved to the UK when I was 8 from South Africa. I didn’t know much about football, and first called myself an Arsenal fan! When I started to play football myself (and wised up), I was a goalkeeper. My mum’s family are Dutch and Van der Sar soon became my favourite player in the national team… So it was Edwin who got me in to Fulham!
DS – How long have you been supporting the club?
KJ – I think the first season I could call myself a “real” fan was the 2003/2004 season. My favourite shirt is from that season!
DS – What has been your most favourite memory from being a Fulham fan?
KJ – The European games must be up there. That season I was lucky enough to go to Basel, Turin, Hamburg (twice), Belfast, and Twente. Made some amazing memories and some great friends.
DS – What has been your worst memory from being a Fulham Fan?
KJ – Obviously getting relegated wasn’t fun and the following couple years didn’t get much better. Those were the 3 seasons I gave up my season ticket as I moved out to Singapore so at least I didn’t experience too much of it. I have to say though; I think my worst memory was when we lost Dembele and Dempsey. We had such great potential that season.
DS – What led you and inspired you to create Billy the Badger?
KJ – The club had an online competition. At the time, there was a viral video involving dancing badgers, mushrooms and a snake. Back then a friend of mine, (who is a Cambridge fan) we both would put our team shirts on, the team shirts said badger and we would wear them to play in a 6-a-side team called the Cambridge badgers. So, when I saw the competition I thought a badger would work well. So, I sent a picture in of a badger.
DS – How old were you when you did this?
KJ – I think I was around 12 years old.
DS – Were there any other reasons for coming up with a badger, other than your experience in Cambridge?
KJ – When I sent the picture in of the badger, I included a brief reason of why the Fulham mascot should be a badger. Badgers are black and white and are traditionally British just like Fulham. Badgers also live in big families and Fulham is a big family.
DS – Do you have any drawings or sketches of your original design?
KJ – Unfortunately I don’t. The club did send me some pictures but that laptop that I had them stored on died many years ago. I should really get in touch with the club and see if they have any in the archive. I also keep meaning to ask if I could have a costume!
DS – Did you get anything out of creating Billy from the club? An award or a plaque?
KJ – I got 2 free tickets to see us play against Arsenal. That was my first game! We lost 4-0 in that match and Henry got a standing ovation. I also got a goodie bag that a had keychain, stickers, book, etc. Funny thing is I had to buy my own Billy the Badger toy when they first came out, ha-ha.!
DS – Did the experience of creating Billy have any effect on your future choices for a career? What do you do now for a living?
KJ – I actually went on to study marketing at university. Then I went on to running pubs where I did do a lot of design work and digital marketing. Since then though I’ve gone into more of a normal office job.
DS – What is your favourite memory of Billy?
KJ – I love it when Billy gets into the spot light, especially during games. I remember things like Billy “attacking” Avram Grant and being sent off for staying on the pitch break-dancing for too long.
DS – Have you heard of Sir Craven of Cottage and do you know what he looks like? Word on the street is that he’s making a comeback…..are you nervous?
KJ – Who? Just kidding… I’ve heard of and seen Sir Craven (not in the flesh). I wouldn’t be too nervous, he just looked very sun burnt. Didn’t Dabs.com have a mascot? Was it a computer? Now there’s a challenger haha!
DS – As you mentioned above Billy is not shy of getting into a confrontation like the Avram Grant spat. If given the opportunity to have a boxing match with one of these three, who would he pick? Chelsea’s Stamford the Lion, Brentford’s Buzzy Bee or QPR’s Ian Holloway?
KJ – Well I’m speaking on behalf of my “son”. I’m sure he’d be happy to take them all on. In case there are youngsters reading I won’t go into too much detail on how things would unfold: dft011: [dannyboi pushing for him to pick one]……oh I guess it has to be Qpr’s Ian Holloway lol.
DS – What do you think Billy brings to Fulham and its fans?
KJ – This is my favourite thing; the kids do really seem to love him and lots of friends tell me he is a real favourite of their kids.
DS – He really is mate, as you know I have four kids. The oldest loves Fulham now and it was Billy who she first affiliated with. I know fans will be more interested in Focus Views with ex-players but I feel the creation of Billy is a very important one. My three other kids are under 5 and I know firsthand how important the role of Billy is in securing the love and connection future generations will have with Fulham. We aren’t Man Utd or Arsenal, it’s vital we maintain our fan base because without it there is no club.
It’s mental to think you probably wouldn’t support Fulham if you’d not won this competition and both Billy and you are great additions to the Fulham family. Nice one mate for agreeing to do this, you’re a top bloke and I’m sure people will enjoy reading it.
KJ – Cheers Dan, thanks for asking me.