Mascot memories from Saturday
Saturday’s mascot experience was fantastic, and a real credit to the club. We’ve glossed over the middle 90 minutes in our family but to be fair kids don’t dwell on results, and my son is still buzzing from the day. Hopefully most of those that came on Saturday for the first time or the first time in a while will remember the atmosphere and the experience as a whole and not the result. I know that I pick my games and therefore have to take the rough with the smooth.
Anyway our day started at 12 noon when we met the mascot co-ordinator Sue and we were given our excellent goodie bag. We waited for the other match mascots in a little waiting room by the players entrance and greeted each player as they showed up for ‘work.’ First we were taken to the Director’s Lounge, which had just been overhauled and redecorated by the new owners, with the whole intention to move on from our past achievements and allow the club to embark on a new era, a theme that we heard a lot as we toured the west stand.
Overlooking the car park the Director’s Lounge was unfussy and simple, a bit like like the trophy cabinet, although I will never tire of staring at the sparkly Play-Off and Championship trophies.
Next we were up in the Director’s Box complete with panoramic views of an empty Valley before the gates opened. Then down onto pitchside for some irresistible photo opportunities. The dugouts sadly showed signs of how tight the purse strings were previously. Half the seats were a faded and torn red leather, the other half replaced by the plastic seats one finds in the stands. A chirpy and huge Bob Bolder greeted us, Colin Walsh shook my hand and I’m in two minds whether to wash it this week and then there was Colin Powell patrolling the right wing, like he used to, who at any minute I expected to scream “keep off my grass.”
Later just before kick I had a chance to catch up with Big Dave Lockwood and then I saw Colin Powell again and told him that 30 years previous he was my brother’s favourite player when he was the mascot. Powell’s face broke into a huge grin and he asked me to thank him. No, thank you Colin.
Sue took us around the inside corridors of the main stand stopping to explain photos, art work and honour boards. Then my son and the other mascots were taken off to finish their tour as my brother and I went for a pint in the Crossbars Lounge behind the goal.
We bought my son a red football from the club shop and he was armed with a marker pen as he went off with the other four mascots to tour the player parts of the stand, such as the Physio’s Room and the Dressing Rooms. There he met all the players and his ball is covered in autographs.
Scott Wagstaff, each one of Saturday’s five mascot’s favourite player, was armed with jelly babies for the kids. Trouble is each one of the kids had to pick a second choice as Waggy was on the bench. My son already had a back-up plan and was paired up with Robbie Elliot. In a nice personal moment my son showed Chris Powell a photograph from the holiday we met him and his family on in 2002, and he wrote a treasured little message on the back of it. Later he greeted me with a big hug on the touchline just before kick-off.
At 2.15 the mascots joined the players out on The Valley turf for the pre-match warm up and a session with a coach, before going back in the tunnel to reappear with the teams and the officials to almost 25,000 fans and The Red, Red Robin at ten to three.
He loved every minute of it, so did my brother and I and a couple of mates that we had with us as well. According to my son, the players were great with Semedo, Waggy and Elliot coming in for extra praise. It was a terrific day and an experience we will all remember forever. Finally a huge thank-you to a couple of people. Ravi Patel at the club who was particularly helpful and especially Sue Gallop who was a fantastic host.