Imagine your club’s manager, after getting completely leathered at a party the night before, awakes to the discovery that he’s now the proud owner of… a billy goat. As the kids on Twitter are saying these days: WYD? The answer, according to German club FC Köln, is to make the critter your sideline mascot for all home matches, and the biggest star of the club.
The legend of Hennes Der Geißböck (Hennes the Billygoat) begins in 1950 when Hennes Weisweiler, the coach of the then-recently formed club received a pet goat from a circus owner at a Carnival party (Carnival is a week-long street party that takes place in Köln in mid-November, because hey, let’s find a reason to get drunk and play practical jokes on each other between Oktoberfest and Christmas!). This hardy domesticated ruminant was immediately christened Hennes, and quickly started becoming a regular along the sidelines. Hennes proved to be good luck, as a young Köln side won their first divisional championship in 1954, and went on to become one of the founding 16 clubs that formed the Bundesliga.
At some point the original Hennes went to the big cabbage patch in the sky (goat life expectancy is 15-18 years), and he was replaced by another goat named (you guessed it) Hennes II. From these humble origins, a dynasty was born.
Today, Hennes is unquestionably the biggest part of FC Köln’s identity. The club crest shows Hennes nonchalantly propping his hooves on the twin spires of Köln Cathedral. Like a dang ol’ goat boss.
The current Hennes, Hennes VIII, was voted in by Köln fans via online ballot. He lives on a small farm outside of town with an elderly woman named Hildegard. Because he weighs over a hundred pounds and is liable to charge off without notice, the club has appointed a special game day handler who helps load Hennes into the van and holds his leash throughout the match.
Hennes VIII grabbed international headlines in March 2015 when he got a bit over-involved in an on-pitch goal celebration in a 4-2 victory over Frankfurt. Having sent several previous shots high and wide, Köln striker Anthony Ujah finally netted a goal – and in the ecstasy of the moment, decided it was a good time to grab Hennes by the horns and “dance.”
While grateful for the goal and the win, Köln fans were none too thrilled to see Hennes manhandled. Later, Ujah “apologized” to Hennes by bringing him a birthday bouquet of carrots and other goat munchies.
P.S. Here’s a video of Hennes doing a one goat pitch invasion in 2014 when he slipped his leash. Just pretend the Benny Hill theme is playing.
P.P.S. Did I mention that the little bastard has his own beer sponsorship?