A DOG has become an overnight star after popping up in the ‘crowd’ at a Colchester United football match.

A cardboard cut-out of Cilla the greyhound appeared in the crowd on Sky Sports at the U’s game against Exeter - where images of fans were placed in the stands as the game took place behind closed doors – and became an instant hit.

Kate Priest and husband Simon got Cilla from Clark’s Farm greyhound rescue centre in Maldon last month.

The couple, who have supported the U’s for more than 35 years, sent in Cilla’s picture to help raise money for the club – but couldn’t believe what happened next.

Kate said: “The cardboard cut-outs cost £25, but the club needs the money and we wanted to do our bit to support them.

“We made one of each of us – myself, my husband Simon and my three children, Bob, Jess and Ella – then we joked and said let’s make one of Cilla too.

“She did a lovely, smiley pose and that was that, picture sent and we didn’t really think any more of it.

“We sat nervously watching, when the camera suddenly zoomed in on Cilla’s cardboard cut-out in the crowd. We couldn’t believe it and felt really excited, but could not have imagined what was about to happen next.

“Our phones kept beeping with messages from people who had spotted her, then friends and family were sending screenshots of her face on social media sites, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook.

“She had become an instant hit and fans’ forums were full of talk about ‘Cilla the cardboard dog’ at the Colchester United game.

Cilla, who now has her own Instagram account ‘cillathecardboarddog’, received 1,754 likes on a picture after the match.

After Colchester won the game, Kate and Simon hoped Cilla might be a lucky mascot and ordered another cut-out for the second leg.

Colchester midfielder Harry Pell escorted the cut-out down to Exeter and tweeted a picture of his roommate for the night.

Kate said: “On the Monday, the day of the second leg of the play-offs, I had a call from the BBC asking if they could do a live link-up via Facetime to us, during the match.

“So, not only were we very nervous for the match, we were also then incredibly nervous to be appearing on live BBC television.

“Cilla took a while to get up and be seen in front of the camera. She is very lazy and hasn’t appeared at all bothered by all the fuss and attention she has received.”