WHEN Tracy Chandler – also known as Doncaster Rovers mascot Donny Dog – stripped off for a “tasteful” photo shoot she thought it would be a welcome boost to the club’s charity fundraising.
However, bosses at the Championship side thought otherwise, and have shown the mother-of-three the red card, claiming her appearance in a downmarket tabloid newspaper gives the club a bad name.
Ms Chandler says she only agreed to the photo shoot to help raise money for the NSPCC, which the football club has been supporting with a series of fundraising activities including an Inca trek through the Andes.
But club directors have sacked her from her voluntary unpaid job as Donny Dog – despite the club’s players stripping off themselves for a saucy calendar last season.
The 40-year-old, who works as a mobile hairdresser, has been wearing the mascot costume at matches at the Keepmoat Stadium and also representing the club at charity events in the town for four years.
Ms Chandler, from Armthorpe in Doncaster, insisted that the photographs were “tastefully done” and added: “I haven’t asked or been given a penny since I’ve been Donny Dog, in fact the first season I did it the club charged me £5 to park at the stadium on matchdays.
“I have driven up and down motorways using my own car and spending countless money on petrol promoting charity events. I even drove down to London for a charity event.
“Some of the lads are trekking the Incas so I thought these pictures would be a great bit of fun to raise awareness of what they are doing. Instead they have sacked me.
“It’s so hypocritical. The players in the calendar were naked except for a strategically-placed football, so how is this any different?”
“My dad was a big Rovers fan but the real reason I decided to take on the role of Donny Dog was because I wanted to do charity work – and that is what has resulted in me getting the sack.
“I’m absolutely gutted and I’m so angry. I have given so much to them over the last four years and this is how they repay me, fired by email,” she said.
Ms Chandler, mother to 20-year-old Owen, 13-year-old Henry and seven-year-old Elaina, gave up a hairdressing salon to concentrate on her efforts as Donny Dog.
She said: “The previous mascot did nothing except go to matches and I just thought there was so much potential for Donny Dog to do lots of work for charity.
“The club have supported me with this to an extent but I have done a lot of it off my own back.
“This dog will not take this decision lying down. I don’t think the players or the fans will be happy. The fans love me and chant for Donny Dog at games.
“Before a game at Barnsley I got in touch with their mascot Toby Tyke, and we had a bit of banter at the match which the crowd loved and were getting involved with.
“I gave up my salon because I was putting so much work into Donny Dog, and I’ve got three kids as well.
“Owen was a little bit embarrassed when he heard I was going to do the pictures, but he supported me all the way.”
The email from the club’s community foundation chief executive Eric Randerson said:
“Hi Tracy, I am sorry to inform you that your services are no longer required as mascot for Doncaster Rovers.
“The club have seen the... article and this seriously gives a bad name to the club.
“The club have informed me that there will be no going back on this decision and you are no longer mascot for the club.”
A spokesman for Doncaster Rovers said yesterday: “We have no comment to make on this matter at all.”
Ms Chandler added: “I really want my job back because I love it. I would love it if the fans started a campaign to have me reinstated.”
Players posed in nude calendar
DONNY Dog’s sacking comes after, in one of many fundraising efforts, Doncaster Rovers players posed naked for a charity calendar.
As well as posing for the calendar, other fundraising drives for the NSPCC have included a charity golf day, held last month, and a celebrity football match in which stars including Emmerdale actor Luke Titensor and Hollyoaks actor Jay Khan took on a team of schoolteachers.
Last Sunday, June 5, Doncaster Rovers players Mark Wilson, James Coppinger and James O’Connor, alongside staff and supporters, set off on the 62-mile Inca trek through the Andes for the charity.
Ms Chandler claims that she only agreed to the raunchy photographs to raise yet more cash for the NSPCC and said: “If I want to do something for charity and in this case to help the NSPCC charity, why shouldn’t I? It’s my body.”