A RED-FACED rugby fan has confessed to making an embarrassing bloomer.

Steve Wilkinson, who entertains crowds as Knutty the Lion, the mascot of Knutsford Rugby Club, has lost the legendary costume.

The 52-year-old was celebrating the 80th birthday of former club president Tony Evans at a surprise party in Knutsford on Thursday.

After enjoying the get together at The Botanist wine bar on King Street, he decided to leave Knutty in nearby St John’s churchyard when they moved on to another pub.

But when he returned half an hour later, the costume had disappeared.

“I am Knutty,” said Steve. “He is quite famous and has become part of club legend.

Knutsford Guardian: Knutty the Lion having fun Knutty the Lion having fun

“He comes to all our big functions. I had taken him to the party and people were trying him on.

“I thought it would be too hot to wear him so I threw him over a wall in the corner of St John’s churchyard near to The Botanist.

“It wasn’t the best idea in the world.”

Knutty, a club mascot for 17 years, was last seen in the early hours of Friday morning between 12.30am and 1am.

Steve is now offering a £50 reward for Knutty’s safe return.

Knutsford Guardian: Clara Wilkinson and dad Steve at the spot near St John's churchyard where Knutty went missingClara Wilkinson and dad Steve at the spot near St John's churchyard where Knutty went missing

“He means a lot to us,” said Steve. “He is part of the club’s history and has been with us since 2004.

“He has even been with us on the Lions tour in New Zealand.

“I left him behind the wall of the churchyard for less than 30 minutes and when I returned he was gone.

"I’m so upset and so is my daughter Clara who was really fond of him.

“We just want him back, no questions asked.”

Anyone who knows of Knutty’s whereabouts can call Steve Wilkinson on 07769 880335.