The following is an article I wrote for Coventry Blaze’s club magazine, Ignite. The idea mainly sprung from my own curiosity in wanting to find out who had managed to land the job of mascot.
The article in it’s published format can be found here.
It’s almost 6pm on a Sunday evening in the Skydome. Awaiting the game ahead, the crowd are cheering and clapping along to the music. Children, and a couple of adults too, are calling out for their favourite Blaze representative.
No, it isn’t Calder, Carlson or Weaver. It’s a big green monster.
“Scorch!” a young boy shouts, waving at the Coventry Blaze mascot as he skates onto the ice. Throwing tennis balls into the crowd, the spotlight is firmly on Scorch who as I later found out, revels in the attention.
“I love it!” he said. “It’s great fun. It’s good to see the smiles on the kid’s faces. Some kids come up and it’s the highlight of their week high fiving Scorch. You get a few that run and hide behind their parents but they’re the ones I pick on the most.”
This isn’t a mean streak, but part of what Scorch describes as his cheeky character. “I can get away with a lot being in the costume, stealing people’s hats and scarves, messing around with the opposition fans,” he laughed.
I ask if there are certain people he picks on every week. Scorch can’t help a cheeky grin, “Definitely” he said.
Although it tends to be those who know his secret identity who are the victim of such abuse. “People get to know who I am after a while but initially I just pick on randoms.”
Wearing a green fur suit and acting as a target for fans to throw pucks at you in the period break is a strange job, one which Scorch almost accidentally fell into.
“When Coventry first got the mascot, I sort of flippantly said, ‘I’d like to have a go at that’. The match night co-ordinator then had a chat with the guy that was doing it originally and that was that” said Scorch.
He was then whisked away from his previous role selling 50/50 tickets and promoted to part time mascot, initially sharing the role of Scorch with another. After a brief time away from the dragon costume to recover from a broken ankle he then took over the job completely.
Much like a pro hockey player, Scorch sticks to the same routine every week. “I get to the rink about four, get in costume about quarter to five, then mess around in the queue until doors open.”
“The players turn up on a match night with their game faces on and I don’t get involved with that. I just turn up and do my thing and leave them to do theirs.”
After the next task of throwing tennis balls into the crowd, there’s just time for a few high fives and perhaps a photograph or two, before Scorch gets changed and enjoys some hockey with the rest of us.
However, five minutes before the end of each period, the green suit is thrown back on. “Since I’ve been the mascot I’ve missed probably 90% of goals at the Skydome!” A bit of a drawback, but he went on to explain that the job does bring great rewards.
“Probably one of the best parts of doing it is winding up the away fans. They all love to give me a bit of a barracking. It’s part of the game.” In a typical break, Scorch can usually be found standing at the bottom of Block 8, being jeered by, or perhaps having his tail pulled by some overexcited away fans.
The perks just keep coming, especially at the Play Offs – the biggest opportunity of the year for mayhem. “The league pays us for the Play Off Finals. We get looked after really well, they feed us and keep us well watered.”
To Scorch though, the chance to reignite old rivalries with the other mascots is more important than the cash.
“We all get a bit cheeky and play around more. Generally we all gang up on Gordie[the gorilla] from Belfast. He tends to give it a bit more, when he’s got his inflatable banana and starts hitting people over the head.”
Revenge usually takes the form of a group mascot fight, with plenty of encouragement from the crowd, of course. Scorch loves the attention, but there have been times when he has publicly embarrassed himself.
“The first time I dressed up as Scorch, in a game against Newcastle, I stepped on the ice – straight on my bum! My first time in costume and I had to get helped back to my feet. It wasn’t ideal.”
In fact, Scorch told me that most of his embarrassing moments have involved him falling onto the ice. “I’ve also been body checked by a linesman and put on my butt while I was skating around. That was my own fault though, because I’d tried to hit him,” he said. Scorch explained that since then he has learnt the valuable lesson not to pick on those who are stronger and better at skating than him.
The responsibilities of a Blaze mascot are a welcome change from Scorch’s day job as a senior customer account manager. After all providing financial advice for a high street bank rarely involves taking part in a donkey derby.
“The Leofric Lions organise it at the memorial park and I was part of the donkey race,” he said. “All the mascots are there, Sky Blue Sam, the Coventry Rugby Club mascot and a teddy bear. All of us were on the back of chariots racing donkeys around the memorial park. That was good fun. ”
Unfortunately, due to problems with a ‘dodgy donkey’ Scorch didn’t bring home the winning trophy that day. With a late sprint to the line, however, he did finish a respectable second. Better luck next time for Scorch who assures me he’ll be around for a while yet.
“There’s another mascot in his forties so I could aspire to that, but as long as they’ll have me!”