24 October, 2007

Mascot of the Week 8

Names – Sammy the Shrimp

Affiliation – Southend United F.C.

Animal – Shrimp (although he’s actually closer in appearance to a piece of pre-fried Calamari. Or a sperm)

Colour – White

Level of Ridiculousness - 7

Most common missile pelted with – Steak, Chips and Peas

Always one of the most popular figures in the mascot circle, this charismatic crustacean has been a staple of the quaint town of Southend-on-Sea longer than the pier itself, entertaining young and old alike with his beautiful songs of oceanic adventure. But as is so often the case with these masterful entertainers, a heart of insecurity and confusion lies behind those twinkling eyes.

Some of our younger readers might not remember the time when Sammy first appeared in the public eye, as a child prodigy guest-singing on Noel’s House Party; everyone instantly fell in love with the loveable pink shrimp, and his parents pushed him hard to make the most of his 15 minutes of fame. Singing the national anthem at Roots Hall was supposed to be his chance to make it into the big leagues, with several record company executives on hand to see the unusual shellfish perform, but alas, events conspired against him. Hijacked by jealous visiting mascot Mighty Mariner from Grimsby, the pre-game show was an absolute disaster, and Sammy took it hard.

Convinced that his outlandish colour and ‘edgy’ features were to blame, he went into hiding and no-one heard anything of the once adored shrimp for several years. Rumours abounded of his whereabouts, and frightened children swore they could see him late at night roaming around Adventure Island on the seafront, collecting spare change, but still nothing was confirmed.

Then suddenly one day he started just showing up in his old haunts again, and even returned to speak to the management at Southend United about having another crack at the national anthem at Roots Hall. At first, no-one was quite sure what to say. Although he sounded and acted the same as the Sammy they remembered, his outward appearance could not be more different. Gone was the highlighter-pink skin, and no longer did he have the gnarled shell and prominent antennae that once gave him so much character. Instead, he was now pasty white and featureless, with a huge permanent smile apparently stapled onto his face.

To this day whenever the subject is brought up, Sammy sticks to the same story. He has a rare skin condition called Vitiligo, which makes him extra sensitive to sunlight, and always used to wear pink make up to cover the ugly blotches that this causes. Now however, he has come to terms with the disease, and realizes that he must be white. Furthermore, to explain the facial changes, Sammy claims that following an operation to fix a broken nose, he suffered difficulty breathing and as such, has had to have his features permanently altered to correct this problem. Whatever you believe, I’m sure you will join me in simply rejoicing that he is back in the town he loved, and now playing the role at his favourite football club he always so desired.

And finally, in an ironic turn of events, Sammy might well find the nationwide acclaim he once longed for after all. Following an incredibly successful run in local pub quizzes, he has been head-hunted by the TV show Mastermind to appear in what they are calling their “ultimate test.” Here's a taste of what lies in store for him as Harry the Hornet takes a seat in the famous chair: