Pudsey happy to look after Bear necessities in new Blackburn Rovers role
HE has performed in front of millions, waltzed with Terry Wogan and been a national treasure for almost 20 years. Now, he is the new kit man at Blackburn Rovers.
His name ‘Pudsey Bevan’ should be enough for most to guess the identity of his alter-ego after he annually donned the now famous yellow bear suit at the BBC’s Children in Need extravaganza at Television Centre for 16 years.
‘So you were basically a man in a daft bear costume?’ one senior Rovers player commented to him as he was telling his unlikely story at Brockhall yesterday.
He has had to get used to the banter over the years.
Bevan, who changed his name by deed poll from Alan to Pudsey about four years ago, became the official Children In Need mascot who paraded around the TV studios every November following a few drinks after work.
He said: “I was working in the security at the BBC and after a shift one day, I was at Television Centre on fourth floor in the social club, I was talking to a group who were doing a filming for Children in Need and the guy who played Pudsey could not make it.
“I said I would do it. I did it and I have done it for 16 years.
“I missed one year when I was working for Fulham because we had a game at Walsall and I couldn’t get out “I was there through the Spice Girls to the last couple. There are obviously different ones all over the country, but I was in Television Centre, had my own changing room. It was great fun.
“The longest I was ever in the costume was 16 hours and it was very, very hot. I had a chaperone who took me round because you can’t see anything. You can only see through the nose.
“The funniest one was completely unscripted, Wogan starts doing the dance with me.
“Then he leaves me as he reads the total and I can’t see a thing stuck on the middle of the stage.
“I am stood there like an idiot, it is all right because it is a big yellow bear waving his arms round, but I was thinking I don’t know what to do, was disorientated and didn’t want to fall off the stage in front of millions of people.
“At Fulham my nickname was Pudsey and a couple of years ago I changed my name by deed poll to Pudsey.
“Driving licence, passport are all in that name.
“Everyone called me that.”
So how does a man originally from Gloucester and who combined being Pudsey Bear with working in security and running his own driving school get into the world of pro-fessional football?
Bevan often asks himself the same question.
He got his big break at Fulham – almost by accident – and admits he is now doing the ‘next best thing’ to being a footballer.
He said: “I was working as a fireman/security guard at the BBC and I applied for a job at Fulham on that side of things.
“With no experience at all, Fulham decided they needed a kit man – Kevin Keegan was the manager – I don’t know how I got it.
“The only experience I had ever had of professional football was going to watch the team I supported, Bristol City. I had followed my team around the country but then suddenly I am right in the middle with a guy who was a legend to me.
“I did eight years with Fulham. Al Fayed had just come in, I was right the way through until Chris Coleman and Steve Kean were there. I saw John Tigana, the French revolution, we won the Championship by a country mile.
“After seven or eight years the club had changed a bit too much.
“It wasn’t the family friendly club I first joined and I decided I would find something else.”
Bevan, 46, worked in sports marketing for first Puma and then Under Armour for the next six years before being made redundant in January.
His old kit man network got him back inside the game, working with QPR’s academy and the Welsh youth, before getting the chance to link up again with Kean this summer at Rovers.
“People think it is 90 minutes on a Saturday and maybe a game in a week,” said Bevan. “What else do you do? I have a list here of my 52 grown up children. They range from Nuno Gomes to young lads and everything between.
“We look after everything for them, from their kit to everything they could need on a daily basis.
“Pre-season is the worst time ever for a kit man. I drove to Austria with the kit. The big transit is full with everything they need, with the exhaust dragging. We took everything, anything you could possibly imagine they would need.
“It got better. We went just over 1,200 miles to Austria, then 500 miles to Holland and then a little one to Ireland.
“Then the first game of the season I drove to Ipswich. A lot of kit men bundle everything on the coach and go with the team. I want to be with the kit all the time though. The only away game I haven’t driven myself was MK Dons and we lost.
“Football is full of superstitions and to my mind, until we lose, I go everywhere in the van, I don’t care where it is.”