Andy Capp adopted as German football club mascot

A GROUP of fanatical football supporters made a pilgrimage from Germany to Hartlepool to visit the birthplace of cartoon character Andy Capp.

Supporters of FC Nuremberg have adopted Andy, created by Hartlepool artist Reg Smythe, as their unofficial mascot.

The loveable rogue, who they call Jacky in Germany, has been emblazoned on everything from flags and scarves to banners and club merchandise.

Last week, three members of supporters group Ultras Nuremberg visited the Andy Capp statue on the Hartlepool's Headland during a trip to England.

After posing with the statue, they dropped into the Harbour of Refuge pub next door where they learned of Hartlepool's monkey hanging legend.

Ultras Nuremberg adopted Andy Capp as their mascot when they were formed in 1994.

It is believed fans of the club chose Andy after identifying with his working-class roots.

Christian Moessner, 39, from the supporters group, said: "Even the guys from back in 1994 do not accurately know where they found Andy Capp.

"He is a straight-forward guy, someone who stands for his beliefs and love the old school football.

"Football without high priced tickets that only the upper class can afford and overpaid players who do not care about the tradition of the club they are playing for."

In 2007 at the final of the German Football Federation Cup, fans made a huge banner showing Andy walking off with the trophy.

FC Nuremberg went on to win the cup, the equivalent of England's FA Cup, beating Stuttgart in the final, and the banner is now taken to the team's matches each week.

Christian, a film production manager, added: "That was maybe the first time when a bigger audience started asking 'who is that little guy with a cigarette and a strange cap?'"

Christian and fellow fans Christoph Kgler and Romeo Coric travelled to Hartlepool last Thursday after coming to England to watch a European tie between Aston Villa and Rapid Vienna in Birmingham.

Christian said: "We landed in Birmingham and drove straight to Hartlepool in a hire car.

"We drove around in the town, and finally stopped in front of the statue.

"Bang – there he is! It was a great feeling. After taking enough pictures we went into the pub next to it.

"They were open-minded, friendly and once more football proved to be an international language."

Christian hopes to visit Hartlepool again with more fans in the future and also plans to take in a Pools game.