The wacky world of football mascots

in Straight Red

mascots running

Just like Marmite you either like them or don’t, but the football mascot is as much a part of match days as a pie and pint are at half-time. Myself, I think they’re good fun and can liven things up especially before a game and some of their antics can be amusing.

At my club Coventry City we’ve got a very large Sky Blue elephant as our mascot and Sam is well loved especially by the younger fans and he loves having his picture taken with the kids and any selfies going on you can be sure big Sam will be there. For a large mascot he is quite nimble on his feet and has been known to slide and roll about on the pitch. He likes an audience so he is a bit of a show off and an extrovert. In fact underneath the costume I get the feeling there’s an actor or even a stand-up comedian trying to get out as he plays to the crowd but sadly as attendances are falling at the Ricoh these days poor old Sam is doing his pre-match routine to a few hundred fans who have seen it all before.

Another thing I like about the football mascot are the names they come up with and many stand out such as Arsenal’s mascot Gunnersaurus Rex, a very tall dinosaur who is unmissable at games, but other clubs have good names too like: Herbie the Hammer (West Ham) Marvin the Moose (Cambridge) Boomer the Dog (Port Vale) Zampa the Lion (Millwall) Pottermus the Hippo (Stoke City ) Chester the Field Mouse (Chesterfield) Deepdale Duck (Preston) and the Jolly Green Giant at Yeovil.

So a football mascot not only has to have a striking appearance it helps if he has a stand out nickname too and some clubs even like to go that extra mile and have not one but two mascots like at Swansea where Cryil and Cybil like to strut their stuff and at Wolves there are Wolfie and Wendy a couple of canines who provide the razzamatazz at the Molineux.

Animals of all kinds feature a lot in the world of football mascots as you’ve also got at Burnley good old Bertie Bee a gold and black insect who has been involved in some comical incidents at games like when a streaker ran on to the pitch Bertie flew into action and made a citizens arrest on him and he celebrated by doing a worm dance much to the amusement of the crowd. He gained nationwide fame when during a game he handed  some glasses to a linesman Specsavers style, but the referee didn’t see the funny side and poor old Bertie got sent to the stands .

Another character can be found at Fulham’s Craven Cottage where Billy the Badger can be seen break dancing on the touchline and for a fairly large black and white creature can certainly move well and him and Bertie could be the mascots answer to Ant and Dec if they decided to form a partnership in the future.

Many now even have their own Facebook accounts such as Captain Canary of Norwich who with his sad large eyes, bright orange beak and big black and white boots, does look like a funny feathered avian but he has got a large following on Twitter which seems apt for a canary.

Another mascot who intrigues me is the one to be found up there in Hartlepool who goes by the name of H’angus the Monkey so named due to the legendary tale that during the Napoleonic wars a shipwreck had on board a monkey which the locals for some reason claimed was a spy and it was tried in court, found guilty and hanged. It is claimed to be a true story – so much so that the football club have used the tale and with some clever word play their mascot is known as the above. Bing a typical cheeky monkey has got himself into lots of mischief.

So it seems that to be a football mascot you have to be a bit of a villain and a cocky chappie and the more controversial the better. What better sight could there be at a match than to see a mascot losing the plot?

At Torquay is to be found a fiery furry creature going by the name of Gilbert the Gull who has been involved in a few skirmishes. Once he not only offered to fight some fans, he called them a load of c—s, so that never went down well with the small family club.

But they do their bit for charity and each year they hold the Mascot Grand National at Kempton Park racecourse where over a hundred of these madcap characters jump over small fences in a furlong chase and the spectators get to see an Elephant, an Eagle and a Fox amongst others running to cross the finishing line. The victor then milks the applause which seems to fit the personality of these flamboyant show-offs who are either loved by fans or as I’ve heard said at matches should be put down just like they do to some racehorses.

So mascots are an acquired taste but every club has them these days and while players and managers come and go, you can rest assured that the large cuddly furry thing acting the fool at every game will still be there in your club colours….and I’m not talking about the idiot who sits next to you at every home fixture!

by Kevin Halls

kevin halls profiler