Sean Ruane used to be an average Potter fan, passionate like all but just one more in the crowd. One day he decided to grow a mustache, something he had never done, and painted it with the colors of the Danish flag. Ever since he was baptized the ultimate “Hairy Potter”, and became Stoke City´s fan #1.
Before each game Sean spends 1 hour designing his unique looks and this time it is the Hairy Potter signing autographs and taking pictures for anxious pro footballers, there is no “Potter” fan who doesn´t know Hairy Potter.
We found Hairy Potter on twitter where his account grew from a dozen followers to thousands ever since his transformation.
How did you got your nickname, Hairy Potter?
“Goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen in November 2012 had a twitter competition. The best moustache for Movember would win his signed 99th international shirt.
I had never had facial hair and having changed my job after 28 years I decided, why not so? I grew a tash and when I was about to sent the pic I had a madcap idea to paint the Danish flag onto the tash. I then sent the pic and at that moment I had 14 followers on twitter.
Thomas Sorensen immediately tweeted “competition over, we have a winner!” on collecting the shirt the Movember Team came over to me and uttered the immortal words “you are the ultimate Hairy Potter “ hence the name changed on twitter.
“I cannot shave it off, it is far too precious now because it’s part of my image and it is expected by the fans but I will let it grow. It could be quite horrendous but it’s for a good cause” – This is what Hairy Potter said to the Stokesentinel.co.uk after an interview.
Do you have a different beard design for every game or just occasionally?
I have always tried to bring some fun to football days by creating designs on my tash and beard. I got so well known by players that I had requests for their national flags, and as things developed fans enjoyed my positive outlook and have bought into brand me Hairy Potter so much that people call me HP, and it has stuck.
Which is your favorite mustache design?
My all-time favorite moustache was the Ricardo Fuller Jamaica & Kenwyne Jones Trinidad & Tobago Tribute Tash. When those players saw it they asked for selfies and called Phil Greig the official SCFC photographer over to photograph it. After this I was in the Official Programme, and since I have been in the programme probably 6 to 8 times a year, and last week I was in it twice as the video you watched said “Sean, you are now part of that history”.
What is the greatest thing of being “Hairy Potter”? And is being a super hero has its consequences?
Greatest part of being the Hairy Potter is the friendships I have made with Stoke fans, and the good it achieves when raising money for charitable events. I also enjoy meeting other like-minded fans, particularly my West Ham Mates and David Gold, the West Ham Chairman who tweeted “Every club should have a Hairy Potter” ha, ha!
The downside is always the negativity that social media can bring, “the kryptonite”. But didn’t Oscar Wilde say “Any publicity is good publicity?”
How has Stoke City FC treated you? Any VIP for life tickets???
Stoke City FC are a brand and as a business they have embraced me, but I don’t think they or any club has come across the fan-to-fan interaction that the Hairy Potter achieves, so let’s just enjoy the positivity it brings and see where the journey takes it.
How was live before “Hairy Potter?
Before Hairy Potter I had been a Stoke City Fan all my life, supporting them while growing up. Having two kids and a mortgage, but I have always made people feel welcome and my mate always says “you have always been the Hairy Potter, you just never had the time to do it “.
My other proudest moments are marrying Mrs. HP and being with her for 25 years, and my daughter of 21 and my son of 22 who has a learning disability.
How is your relationship with your son?
No one will ever know his inner most thoughts or the challenges he faces, but he is such a happy well balanced individual, loved by us all that in some ways him finding a passion for Stoke City is because his Dad is the biggest and bestest Stoke City Fan in his eyes quite literally, which if you understand learning disabilities you will understand those words.
What does Sean Ruane do when he is not Hairy Potter?
Sean Ruane is a person that enjoys life, has been through the ups and downs and the obstacles it throws at you but remains firm in the belief that what goes around comes around. Don’t do things for a pat on the back, do them because it’s the right thing to do YOLO.
Is your beard painted always, or just when Stoke plays?
The Hairy Potter is one man and his tash/beard. He sometimes needs a push to paint his own infamous facial hair after a long week at work supporting individuals with challenging behaviors. The job he has now he took to learn more about improving his sons life after years of roles in sales and management, where he was going to have a heart attack or kill someone (jokingly). He can now wear his Stoke City shirt on match days signed by the fans he meets so he can remember their names to tweet later, ha ha!
The Hairy Potter is followed by more premier league players than any other fan. He never asks for anything and never expects anything, so that his is own personal reward is the fact that the players respect those values.
Which has been Stoke´s most legendary game that you have witnessed?
Stoke vs Bolton that was our cup final, we will always be remembered for that 5-0 not many teams will ever do that. Thank you I can die a happy man.
Get in touch with one of the world´s most beloved football fans of this age, Hairy Potter:
The Hairy Potter – Stoke City´s fan #1
*All photos from this post were authorized under Sean Ruane´s consent.