Football Team Mascots

Mascot
By Lewis waddingham at en.wikipedia [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Tokens have long been used as symbols of good fortune. Whether it be a young person taking a ‘lucky’ toy into an exam with them or someone going for an operation and having a favourite cuddly toy with them for comfort, there’s an interesting history when it comes to mascots.

Such is the overwhelming nature of capitalism in football, of course, that it didn’t take long for clubs to realise that there was a marketing opportunity available to them through the use of a mascot. From using them to get young fans hooked into the game or selling merchandise based around the mascot, their use in the game has developed significantly over the years. Here’s some background information on it all.

Premier League Team Mascots

Team Mascot
AFC Bournemouth Cherry Bear
Arsenal Gunnersaurus Rex
Aston Villa Hercules The Lion
Brighton & Hove Albion Gully the Seagull
Burnley FC Bertie Bee
Chelsea Stamford The Lion and Bridget The Lioness
Crystal Palace Alice the Eagle and Pete the Eagle
Everton Changy the Elephant
Leicester City Filbert Fox
Liverpool Mighty Red
Manchester City Moonchester and Moonbeam
Manchester United Fred The Red
Newcastle United Monty Magpie
Norwich City Captain Canary & Camilla Canary
Sheffield United Captain Blade
Southampton Super Saint and Sammy Saint
Watford Harry The Hornet
West Ham United Bubbles the Bear and Hammerhead
Wolverhampton Wanderers Wolfie and Wendy

Other UK Club Mascots

How Mascots Got Started

Believe it or not, football hasn’t always been the most thrilling and exciting game. Some matches are fantastic entertainment but others are, frankly, a bit rubbish. Way before mascots were chosen for the ease with which they could be turned into a plush toy for sale in team shops, some clubs decided to introduce actual animals as mascots in order to entertain the crowd and, in some cases, scare the opposition.

Real live animals were, therefore, the first mascots used in football as well as sport in general. As random as it may seem that only really started to change when the Muppets gained popularity in the 1980s. Those based in the marketing department of the top clubs realised that they could entertain people and amuse them by getting them to actually interact with the mascots. The fact that Muppets were so readily accepted meant that it was easy to develop characters that were a mix of animals and puppets.

animal mascots
Real Dog Mascot in the 1920's - By Patrickneil (Ye Domesday Book) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The word ‘mascot’ comes from the French word ‘Mascotte’, meaning ‘lucky charm’. Clubs had no problem connecting the notion of a mascot with their own fortune, thereby tying them into the psychology of victory. Fans were quick to buy into that idea themselves, especially when the mascot linked to something they could associate with such as a ‘fighting spirit’ or desire.

Much of what has been said there was more common for American clubs and associations. In Britain mascots tended to be humans either dressed up as animals or wearing outfits that suited the club they represented. Peterborough’s nickname is The Posh, for example, so their mascot was Mr. Posh; a man who dressed impeccably and behaved like a gentleman at all times.

It is believed that the first used of the word mascot with reference to sport was in the 1880s, when a young boy used to carry the bats of American baseball teams and run errands for the players.

Other Forms Of Mascot

In England mascots aren’t limited to animals, people dressed up or strange Muppet-like creations. In fact it is quite common for teams to have young children dressed in the kit of the home club and another in the kit of the away club accompany the players onto the pitch. These young children are known as mascots and often clubs will run competitions to decide who should get the honour of being one.

High-Profile Examples

Cyril the Swan

Cyril the Swan
Cyril the Swan - By Swanseajack4life (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

The mascot of Swansea City Football Club has won numerous awards over the years, including being voted one of the best in England by Match of the Day viewers. He’s also been involved in some…unsuitable moments, such as when he removed the head of Millwall’s mascot before drop-kicking it.

Gunnersaurus Rex

Gunnersaurus Rex
Gunnersaurus Rex - CHEN WEI SENG Bigstock.com

Arsenal are known as the Gunners, hence the name given to their mascot Gunnersaurus Rex. Though he looks more like a friendly, overgrown lizard than a dinosaur, Gunnersaurus has taken numerous opportunities to get involved in important moments. The most notable of these occurred when Arsenal’s players were observing a minute’s silence and the mascot joined them in the lineup around the centre circle, head bowed.

Kingsley

Kingsley
Kingsley - By Andrew Hendo (Taken at a media event in Glasgow) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Football mascots have perhaps never been as talked about as when Partick Thistle unveiled their new one in 2015. Designed by the Turner-prize nominated artist David Shrigley, Kingsley is the stuff of nightmares. Essentially a big star with blank eyes, buck-teeth and a monobrow, it was hoped it would ‘intimidate’ opposition teams.

Scunny Bunny

Scunthorpe’s fans once started an online petition encouraging the club to replace Scunny Bunny with ‘Iron Lion’. It was perhaps hoped that the lion might be a bit scarier than the Scunny Bunny, which is essentially a man in a Scunthorpe kit wearing the head of a depressed rabbit.

Moonchester and Moonbeam

From the planet ‘Blue Moon’ come Manchester City’s two mascots, Moonchester and Moonbeam. They’re an interesting choice of mascot for a club of Manchester City’s size and stature, though. Moonchester looks a bit dim and Moonbeam seems to want to be anywhere else. They both just look a little bit sad at their lot in life.

Hammerhead

Hammerhead
Hammerhead - By Egghead06 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

West Ham’s mascot was, according to the club’s official release on the matter, created when ‘lightening hit the ironworks’. It actually looks like the unwanted spawn of a shark and an Iron-Man impersonator that’s absolutely furious at being pelted with bubbles every five minutes.

Jolly Green Giant

Jolly Green Giant
By Auz from London, UK (Yeovil's Mascot is Weird...) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

If Partick Thistle were serious about wanting to intimidate the opposition then they should have travelled to Yeovil Town and had a look at the club’s Jolly Green Giant mascot. As the name suggests, it’s tall and it’s green. It’s made even taller by wearing a massive hat and the facial expression its displaying is halfway between scary and like he didn’t make it to the toilet on time.

Billie

Did you know that the FA Cup had its own mascot? When Sandy from Fife won a Blue Peter competition her creation was made real with the invention of Billie. Wearing the top of the FA Cup trophy as a hat, Billie has long orange hair cascading down its back, giving it the look of a psychopathic unicorn.

The Spurs Astronaut

Tottenham Hotspur have a cockerel on their crest and have done for years. Perhaps they decided it might be tricky to have a cock as a mascot, but for whatever reason a decision was taken in the 1972-1973 reason to have a man dressed as an astronaut wander around the pitch before they played European matches. It made perfect sense, though, because they made him carry a hand-painted sign saying “Countdown To European Orbit”…