By David Owen
March 27 – Hats off to Scottish second-tier club Inverness Caledonian Thistle for what must be the classiest intervention of the season in the often dubious field of football club mascots.
Located just north of Loch Ness, with its world-renowned monster legend, one imagines there was never much doubt about which member of the animal kingdom the city’s football club mascot would turn out to be.
But Bob and Kath Fraser, the season ticket-holders who apparently had the stroke of genius to name this cheery embodiment of the fabled creature of the deep Lionel – “Lionel Nessie” to give him his full title – should take a bow and go immediately into marketing.
To add an extra layer of appropriateness, Inverness’s first team colours are red and blue, just like Barcelona, where the mascot’s near namesake Lionel Messi struts his stuff.
According to Inverness chairman Graham Rae, as reported on the club website, the idea of introducing a new mascot was suggested at a fans forum earlier in the season, where disappointment was expressed that the previous Nessie mascot was no longer appearing at games.
The Frasers, from Cradlehall, Inverness, had been thinking of the idea for some time and suggested the Lionel Nessie monicker.
“I was immediately taken with the idea,” Rae recalled.
“Nessie lives right on our doorstep and draws thousands of tourists from throughout the world to our area every year.
“For the football context, Lionel Messi is one of the best players ever to have played the game.”
The mascot is sponsored by the Loch Ness Centre & Exhibition, who have been supporters of the club since its formation in 1994.
There must be something about Inverness Caledonian Thistle: the club was also the source of probably the cleverest football headline of all time, in the wake of a famous giant-killing – Super Caley Go Ballistic, Celtic Are Atrocious.
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