Ben’s unique double
I had often wondered how the mascot at St.Mary’s or the away games were selected. I had presumed that they were chosen randomly from the Junior Saints membership but thought it was unlikely that any of my children would ever be lucky enough to be selected.
So it was much to my delight when the day after Saints glorious performance at Ipswich that I had a call from Dawn Finch of the Saints Foundation asking if my son Ben would like to be mascot for the Birmingham game. Ben was elated when I told him the good news and with the game due to be live on Sky that was the icing on the cake for him.
oon afterwards we received all the information about the day from Dawn. We had to complete a form with usual mascot questions such as favourite player etc and I took a photo of Ben for the programme out in the back garden wearing his saint’s top and emailed it to Dawn.
After a holiday in Tenerife we arrived back to find out that thanks to Birmingham successfully making it through to the Europa League Group stage that the game had been put back to the Sunday and Ben’s debut in front of the sky cameras would have to wait (As it turned out the delay was for only one week but that is another story which I will come on to later).
The big day soon arrived and we left London at 10:30am as we needed to be at St. Mary’s nearly 3 hours before kick off. We had four complimentary tickets so I was joined by my friend John and my nephew Tayler.
We were greeted by Dawn and Andy in the Saints Foundation Lounge. They had arranged a signed photo of Ben’s favourite player Jack Cork and showed Ben his page in the programme.
We were given a short stadium tour before Ben got changed into the full saint’s kit which was his to keep. He was then taken to the Saints’ dressing room with camera and autograph book (while we played table football in the lounge) and met Nigel and all the players with the exception of Rickie Lambert who was having treatment at the time.
Ben then had a kick about on the pitch with a couple of the Saints Foundation Team.
oon afterwards there was some very heavy rain and it didn’t seem a bad thing missing out on a pre-match beer as I thought of the crowd from the Guide Dog getting soaked on route to St. Mary’s as I sat in the comfort of the Saints Foundation Lounge!
Just before 3pm Ben lead the teams out on to the pitch in the pouring rain then after a brief kick about with Dean Hammond, took his place in the official photos and walked down the line shaking hands with the opposing players before being escorted off the pitch and being returned to me somewhat wet!
Much to my relief Ben did prove to be a lucky mascot as Saints recorded a 4 – 1 victory to keep their record breaking home run going to cap of a very memorable day for Ben. The Saints Foundation have since sent me a DVD which showed Ben in the tunnel, leading out the teams and on the pitch along with highlights of the match and a number of photos taken by the official photographer.
All in all I thought the day was very well organised and I’m extremely grateful to all the Saints staff and players for making it a day to remember for Ben. The fact the club do not charge for this unlike some other clubs is to the saints’ credit.
Ben did get on Sky TV the following week as he was asked to be England mascot for a 20/20 game at the Oval against the West Indies, this arose due to him having received a Surrey scholarship to take place in a training scheme over the winter and was lucky enough to get his name picked out of hat first ahead of the other scholars to be the mascot for the game.
He met Mike Atherton and Nasser Hussain of the Sky Sports team (but sadly not Bumble!). He also met most of the England team and also Sammy the WI Captain and went out in the middle with the captains and Nasser for the toss. He was also given a signed bat by the England cricket team as well as the England limited overs top.
Unfortunately he did not prove such a lucky mascot for England as set only 114 to win, they only managed 88 not helped by four run outs and therefore crashed to their first loss in their last game of the summer against a team of virtual unknowns who did bowl and field quite brilliantly.
We were then emailed the following day numerous photos taken of Ben by the official photographer, which will remind us of how accommodating the England players were towards Ben as had the Saints players been the previous week.