Almost every club has a mascot. Some are more notorious and memorable than others, whilst some can confuse and dumbfound as to the relation to their team. To the untrained eye, seeing a large dog with a hat and Celtic shirt on might appear to bear little relation to the SPFL Champions, but more often than not, there will be a loosely associated backstory to each character. Whether you agree with them or not, mascots still play a part in a football club’s cultural and historical ‘brand’, whether representing an aspect of a club’s badge – Nutz the Squirrel at Kilmarnock – or requiring some background research as to their affiliation – Monty the Mole at Montrose.
One of the earliest sporting mascots was across the Atlantic. A taxidermy mount served as the first mascot for the Chicago Cubs baseball team in 1908, eventually changing to a live animal in 1916. Clearly the intended good fortune was not forthcoming and the Cubs abandoned the use of a mascot until this year – opting for the more conventional person in an animal suit.
It’s not just restricted to sport of course. Many multi-national corporations have created their own, imminently recognisable mascot in attempts to grow their brand recognition worldwide. Pretty much everyone will be familiar with the Michelin Man, whilst in the UK, comparethemarkey.com and 118 direct enquiries have both become household names in part to their colourful and creative us of Aleksandr Orlov the meerkat and the retrofitted 118 runners. Whilst football mascots don’t play quite as prominent a role in their club’s promotion and marketing as their counterparts do in the corporate world, many continue to be synonymous with the organisation’s they represent.
Here, ScottishFans looks at five of the more unlikely characters in Scottish football and whether they maintain any obvious link to the clubs they represent.
1. Nutz the Squirrel (Kilmarnock)
Perhaps an obvious one, though the use of a ‘z’ at the end of ‘Nutz’ smacks of a lame attempt to engage with the younger and more ‘with it’ crowd at Rugby Park. Furthermore, Nutz also bears no resemblance to the squirrels on the Kilmarnock club crest – opting for the club colours of blue and white over the traditional orange depicted in the badge.
2. Monty the Mole (Montrose)
Supporters Direct Scotland were at Montrose recently – delivering our Colours of our Scarves exhibition at Links Park – and trying to have a legitimate conversation with a fully grown man dressed as a Mole is tough work. Whilst appearing to have little in common with the club (I’m happy to be educated on this) he was an excellent mascot – ticking all the boxes. High fives, low fives, hugs, you name it, Monty did it!
3. Paisley Panda (St Mirren)
The bad boy of Scottish football mascots, Paisley Panda was initially sacked from his gig at (then) Love Street for being less than respectful with an opposing team’s shirt. Still, the endangered species of an animal is back and has been entertaining the crowds at St Mirren’s new home since 2011.
4. Roary (Scotland national team)
Allegedly the great, great, great grandson of the Lion Rampant that is emblazoned on the country’s alternate national flag, Roary may not be too familiar to fans across the country; national team mascots are not as popular as club ones. Considering the national team can use all the help it can get in qualifying for another major tournament, it surely can’t do any harm. Roary though, despite being 13 years old according to the SFA, does appear to be sporting a rather rugged and mature-looking beard; he also would appear to be a shameless rip-off of the Raith Rovers mascot of the same name!
5. Super Saint (St Johnstone)
We’ll end the list with by far the best mascot in the country – it isn’t even close. St Johnstone decided to bypass all the clichéd animals and have gone straight for an overweight, ageing superhero. If that doesn’t epitomise the footballing landscape in Perth, then I don’t know what does!
Got any other suggestions? Did your club mascot miss out? Tweet us at @ScottishFans and let us know!