01 February, 2008

Jungle Jamboree aka Mascot of the Week 14

Names – Roar; Roary; Lofty; Kingsley; Stamford; Hercules

Affiliations – Blackburn Rovers; Middlesbrough; Bolton; Reading; Chelsea; Aston Villa

Animals –Lions

Colours – A range of hues; from the traditional ‘sandy’ all the way to a slightly terrifying blue and white stripe combination

Most common missile pelted with – Raw meat and Disney plush toys

The lion is a noble creature. Powerful, athletic, primal, but also quite cuddly and beautiful if you get close to one who’s sedated enough not to kill you…kind of like Lindsey Lohan in that respect actually. You can see therefore why, not only is the lion emblazoned trice on our national team’s shirts, but also holds patronage at many football clubs around the country, and in fact a variety of sports teams throughout the world.

Currently, there are 6 of the 20 Premier League clubs who have lion mascots so STT decided, after watching 80s action classic Highlander, that there could only be one. As elaborate preparations were underway to simultaneously kidnap all 6 lions and transport them aboard a large tanker in international waters for an all-against-all cage match to the death, those nosey pedants at PETA once again had to stick their oars in. “It’s cruel…blah blah blah…lions are people too…blah blah blah.” Anyway, we were left then with only one option; to profile each big cat here and then offer you the chance, dear reader, to hunt down the 5 you feel unworthy of continued life…see below for details on this hot exclusive offer…

Roar – Blackburn Rovers

Sidestepping the usual mascot archetype of placing a regular animal simply in the team’s strip, Blackburn were bold enough to actually paint their lion in the clubs colours of blue, white and red. The result is bizarre and pretty scary actually, reminiscent of weird Japanese animation and acid trips gone wrong. The red mane is intense and the look in his eyes is permanently set to ‘kill.’

Roary – Middlesbrough

Roary also doubles as the club mascot of American football team the Detroit Lions apparently, but his heart will always remain in the North-East I am reliably informed. Perhaps with more rights to the animal than other clubs, Middlesbrough’s badge is actually a big red lion, not really sure why though. Roary himself however cuts a fairly forlorn figure, in drastic need of a nice bath and comb, but still has the match-day enthusiasm of a young pup scampering about on the sub-Saharan plains.

Lofty – Bolton Wanderers

Already featured in Mascot of the Week 10, Lofty stood mane and paws above the other lions on first inspection, blessed as he is by carrying the great Nat Lofthouse’s name and number. Still holding it down at the Reebok when called upon, Lofty has generally taken a slight step back from mascotry since we last caught up with him however to concentrate more on cheerleader management and helping Sepp Blatter design crotchless women’s football kits.

Kingsley – Reading

One of the more involved mascots, legend has it that Kingsley is actually an ex-pro who is part of Steve Coppell’s coaching staff, and that is why so often the players flock to wise old lion to celebrate goals at the Madjeski. This even once led to referee Mike Riley sending the poor lion back to the dressing room because he looked too similar to the Reading players and was thus causing confusion among the linesmen. Now I know Stephen Hunt is pretty filthy and hairy, but does he really look like an 8-foot tall yellow lion covered in fur?

Stamford – Chelsea

Considering the spending power behind Chelsea, you’d think they could afford to jazz up their mascot a touch because, let’s be honest, he makes more of a contribution than Steve Sidwell and Frank Lampard put together but looks a bit like a dropped pie. Stamford has been through a lot though, as the thousand-yard stare will tell anyone who gets near him: In the early hours of Saturday 23rd July 2005, Stamford was actually STOLEN from the club’s ground by a highly-organised team of commandos, presumably sent by Arsenal to upset preparations for their upcoming pre-season Charity Shield meeting at the Millenium Stadium. Thankfully, Stamford was able to get a paw free, and taking one of his captors hostage, managed to scrap his way out of the abandoned air force hanger where he was being held and escaped to freedom.

Hercules – Aston Villa

Just so much is right about Hercules, from the name to the reassuringly spherical head, all the way down to the long fluffy tail. Definitely from the cartoon school of design, someone in Villa’s backroom staff really has a keen eye for mascot aesthetics; so much so in fact that if he ever wants a job here at STT, we’d be more than happy to take him on as an unpaid intern. Herc is a cheeky chappy for sure, but he’s also a hard worker who is active in the community. After running the sport relief mile for charity year after year, in 2007 he even went so far as to shave the famous ‘reverse monk’ haircut into his mane, just to raise a bit more cash for the underprivileged kids. Whadda guy!

So there you have it, the choice as they say, is yours. Send us your number 1 lion pick to the usual address, and if it matches with that chosen by leading wildlife expert Terry Nutkins, then we will send you the addresses of the other 5 and a big gun. Oh, and the comically oversized butterfly net that we have lying around the office.