Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Fur & Feathers at the WUP Cup - AFC Wimbledon's Community Mascot Obtacle Race

Haydon and Howie flat on the deck - Not a good sign!
On Sunday 4th September 2011 AFC Wimbledon's Community Team will be at the annual Wimbledon Common Stables Open Day which takes place on Wimbledon Common by the historic windmill and Rangers Stable Block. This is a highly enjoyable occasion and one I really look forward to as it has a very friendly and relaxed air about it and, uncannily, whatever the weather might be leading up to the day the event itself seems to be wrapped in a warm haze of autumnal summer sunshine (that's jinxed it for sure). The Community Football Scheme will have the inflatable shooting range and I'm hoping to set up an exhibition to provide a display of materials and a flag or two from the Flying the Flag for Haydon project as well as 'advertising' the other community sessions that we have available, such as Stadium School and our Fanzine-based literacy project. But, as the Cat in the Hat once said "That is not all... no, that is not all...!" for this year sees the epoch shattering event of the first ever running of a competitive mascot obstacle course race over the poor and acid-based soils of Wimbledon Common!

Of course the inspiration came from having our very own mascot, Haydon the Womble, entering a range of mascot races around the country. Surely though - even as his parent club was seeking a home back in the borough - surely it couldn't be too much to ask for a young womble to have a few friends round for a bit of fun on home turf?

This man is not a 'Commons Ranger'
Luckily the Commons Rangers agreed so this year on 4th September at about 3pm the ground will reverberate to the sound of thundering feet, hooves, claws and paws as mascots of all sorts pound around two laps of a specially constructed obstacle course designed to test them to their limits. As no-one has established the limits of a mascot this could be messy!

Thinking of a snappy, catchy PR-friendly name for the race was a bit tricky and we ended up with the working title of AFC Wimbledon Fur and Feathers Mascot Obstacle Stakes. Not the snappiest of titles , but we thought we'll stick with that for the time being. Fortunately those wonderful folks at the Womble Underground Press have agreed to sponsor a trophy, a winners cup and a medal for every entrant. Conveniently this shortens down to the refreshingly concise WUP Cup!

Haydon and pal at a previous race
What can we expect then, and who will be running? Well at this point in time there are several mascots clearing their diaries and trying to arrange to participate but we are hoping for about 15 mascots for this first race. Apart from Haydon you can look forward to seeing Howie the Horsham hornet, Sutton United's Jenny Giraffe, local favourite Debra the Zebra from Merton's Road Safety Team, world famous Pudsey Bear representing BBC's Children in Need, Dr Dudley is flying in from the Surrey Air Ambulance, Dazzler the Dragon Medway's rugby-playing dragon and Bumper and Squeak, two mice from the Hollywood Bowl in Tolworth. Red-hot favourite though is Jimmy Spices Mr Spice, a chilli-pepper with attitude!

With mascots getting back to us all the time and with more than a week to go, there's every expectation that the number of runners will grow steadily making it truly a sight to behold. We hope that this will become an annual event and grow over time. We also hope that as many people as possible come to enjoy the spectacle and the enjoyment of the Stables Open Day and we really hope that such an enjoyable community event becomes forever associated with AFC Wimbledon!

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