Friday, July 3, 2015

Glasgow football club's terrifying new mascot

Let's all agree, shall we, that a mascot's foremost job is to entice and entertain the wee laddies and lassies at sporting events.

Not to make them shit bricks.

Partick Thistle football mascot Kingsley
The new mascot for Partick Thistle, a football club in the Scottish Premier League. (Photo from the team web site.)
Recently, I've been having a think about choosing a sports team to support here in Glasgow. My wee laddie is on the cusp of starting to follow sports (well, a teensy bit), and hopefully he and I can enjoy attending some games together and maybe develop a rooting interest.

The obvious two choices are Celtic and Rangers, the dominant sports franchises in Scotland. They're enmeshed in a heated rivalry called the "Old Firm." But as I explained a few months ago, the rivalry between Rangers and Celtic continuously leads to enmity, vandalism, and violent clashes among their fans. It's a sectarian hot mess which I'm determined my laddie will avoid.

Rugby's a possibility, and we have an excellent pro team in the Glasgow Warriors. However, (1) I'm not much of a real rugby fan, and (2) I'll never allow Jackson to play rugby, just as he'll never be allowed to play American football.

Kingsley, the Partick Thistle mascot
(Photo courtesy of the Press Association.)
Besides, living in the U.K., we need a football team to support. It's kinda mandatory. Even folks here who don't like sports still have favorite teams.

So I was pondering Partick Thistle, a local Glaswegian football club that plays fairly close to our home in the west end of Glasgow. Though the team is named after the Partick neighborhood of Glasgow, it hasn't played games there in more than 100 years, instead playing in the scruffier Maryhill region of town.

The "Jags," as they're called, are a middling franchise which hasn't won the league in decades and regularly struggles to avoid relegation from the top league into one of the lower leagues. Our support wouldn't be based on winning, or fine football, or great tradition. It would be more of getting a taste of the long-suffering, oft-overlooked, perpetual loser vibe. Which comes with, y'know, cheap seats. And gallows humor, a specialty of Scots, particularly our local Weegies.

And then, last week, came the new mascot.


Designed by a Glasgwegian artist, David Shrigley, the new mascot garnered a few plaudits, with a major British newspaper declaring: "Of course Kingsley’s glowering monobrow, empty eyes and toothy maw look strange, aggressive, and unsettling. And? What do you expect? This is what’s called Art."

Suffice it to say, that's not the majority opinion.

Twitter has been afire with jokes, memes, and Photoshops of the mascot. Kids fleeing in terror. Comparisons to a demonic Lisa from The Simpsons. People wondering if the away-mascot will be a moon. Questions as to why Freddie Krueger, the clown from It, and other scary luminaries were passed over.

I have to admit, the team's new slogan Not So Cuddly Anymore — tickles me. Moreover, my thoughts on Kinglsey are slowly transmogrifying from I can't believe they did that to a certain affection. I mean, was the mascot intentionally humorous? Does it matter?

This new mascot might just be genius.

Whaddya think? Should we view Kinglsey as value-added? Or a sign to run away? The screaming toddlers at games could be worth the price of admission.



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