20 November, 2007

Mascot of The Week 10

Name – Lofty

Affiliation – Bolton Wanderers F.C.

Animal – Lion

Colour – Off yellow with a ‘dirty blonde’ mane

Level of Ridiculousness – 4

Most common missile pelted with – Old industrial equipment, like the Spinning Jenny. And Vernon Kay effigies.

Let’s face it, Bolton is hardly the most glamorous place in the country, but a quick browse on the interwebz will show that in fact a lot of famous personalities actually claim this picturesque Greater Manchester hamlet as their place of origin. In English footballing terms, these come not much bigger than Nat Lofthouse, a man that carried the once-mighty Wanderers to secure their fourth FA Cup victory in 1958. Mr Lofthouse was a talismanic figure t’up North, spearheading Bolton’s golden era of success into the early 1960s, so it is hardly surprising that when faced with the daunting task of naming their new lion, the powers-that-be decided on the alliterative, yet pleasing, ‘Lofty.’ Further still, he was even awarded the team’s prodigal number ‘9’ shirt for eternity, meaning that on his arrival to the North-West, grumpy Frenchman Nicola Anelka had to settle for the number ‘39’ shirt instead.

However, it turns out that Lofty isn’t alone in holding such a sacred honour, but is in fact part on an underground society within the mascot community that, legend has it, was charged with protecting a terrible secret. Another member of the ‘Illu-mascot-ati’ is Bodger, named after the Wycombe all-time top scorer (with an incredible 416 goals in 749 appearances) Tony Horseman, a man so gifted that he would often smoke while playing just to give the opposition a chance. Elsewhere, the final two founding members of this most powerful of sects dwell in Germany; Borussia Moenchengladbach's Juenter mascot is a reference to Guenther Netzer, the star of the club's great 1970s team that won five league titles and two UEFA Cup titles, while at SV Hamburg, their dinosaur mascot is named Hermann, after the team's former official masseur, Hermann Rieger. Rumour has is that between the four of them they stumbled upon a truth that would shake the mascot community down to it’s very core if revealed, and have thus since sworn to keep hidden this revelation at all costs. To solidify the grip Lofty holds over this Illu-mascot-ati, he demonstrated his power several years ago now, gathering a world-record-breaking amount of mascots all under one roof. With 54 of his pals together in the Reebok Stadium, Lofty was pronounced King of them all by world record adjudicator Jeremy Fine who was intimidated to say the least.

On a slightly less sinister note, Lofty has forged quite a successful career for himself, using his exposure at Bolton Wanderers as a spring board to fulfill his dreams of becoming a pop singer. As recently as 2003, he released a Christmas single, destined for the top of the charts before Michael Andrews’ butchering of R.E.M’s Mad World swooped in cynically to take the plaudits.

Listen to it for yourself here

Instead of doing what any wronged lion would normally have done however (i.e. eaten those responsible), Lofty decided to focus on the positives of this disappointment, and in a move of Leonardo da Vinci-esque genius, struck upon the idea of combining his public appearances for the club into ‘Cheerleader Parties’. The concept is as incredible as it is simple. You simply call Bolton Wanderers, request a ‘Cheerleader Party,’ and then one week later, you and up to 14 guests get two hours with the entire club cheerleading squad, with only Lofty looking on to film it and give you advice when necessary. The website advertises ‘equipment provided’ and ‘hot party food,’ so you need not bring anything but yourself and a keen sense of adventure. Hats off to Lofty then, for updating his image for the third millennium, and organizing good niche prostitution at an affordable price! Hazaar!