Animal instinct has earned Andrew James hero status.
The Dunedin resident was in character as Highlanders mascot
AJ the Chicken when he tackled a streaker during the home
team's victory against the Blues at Forsyth Barr Stadium on
''I felt as a mascot it was part of my duty,'' he said
yesterday. ''I had to stop him at all costs. So I gave it my
all, showed some toe and managed to catch him.''
It was Mr James' first tackle and the odds were against him.
Last November, he broke an ankle, which he still straps for
games, and his chicken suit was made for dancing - not
The cumbersome costume slowed his running and restricted his
vision, but sheer determination paid off.
''I saw there were no security guards on him so I thought I
would just do my best and try to save the day. ''I started
running ... as fast as I could and then I just dove and
''I'm actually a football player, so I was absolutely
thrilled. I had my first tackle ever stopping a streaker at a
Highlanders game.'' he said.
After the tackle and a ''wee breather'', Mr James returned to
his role as a mascot for the remainder of the game.
He was declared player of the day by the Highlanders
franchise and enjoyed a few celebratory drinks.