World Cup Willie The First & Greatest World Cup Mascot
What is you favourite memory of the1966 World Cup year?Geoff Hurst's goal(or no goal),kenneth Wolsteholmes "they they think it's all over."Or could it be England's "12th Lion," World Cup Willie!We all have our memories, but some of us believe Willie helped England to glory that year.He was used to promote the tournament, and could be found everywhere.So how well is Willie remembered now?
World Cup Willie may not be as famous as Sir Alf, Sir Geoff or Sir Bobby,but famous he is. For Willie was the first ever World Cup mascot.Emblazoned in a Union Jack shirt and shorts, the patriotic lion with a Beatles haircut,and boots that made him look like he was "bovvered" strode to the same success as the newly crowned World Champions England. For the inventors of the modern game had finally brought the world cup home in1966.
FIFA'S first attempt at licensing it's premier tournament were built around willie,their expectation was to make around £3million.Compare this to FIFA'S next soccer carnival, the 2010 World cup Finals in South Africa where the latest mascot Zakumi should help merchandising sales top £3billion!
Willie was chosen over a bulldog, and the lion theme coming from the three lions on Englands crest.Reg Hoye was the man who created Willie, a simple and fun cartoon drawing.World Cup Willie was born , and off he marched to brand the 1966 World Cup. Before this FIFA had only only the Jules Rimet Trophy to promote their premier tournament, now the mascot would be easily recognisable with the World Cup throughout the globe.
Do you remember finding a small plastic Willie in your breakfast cereal in 1966?That hard bit of plastic you bit on back then will probably be worth the price of several boxes of cereal now.Soon Willie was to be found on anything and everything.
Willie came at us on posters, stamps, plates, pin badges, patches, comics, glasses,mugs, figurines,pennants, key rings,coins, watches, money boxes postcards, t- shirts,cuddly toys.Yes, the plush teddy bear was here.
Manufacturing techniques were much cruder then,and even though quality suffered,supply outstripped demand and the brand grew.
It was not until many months after that demand for the "Lions share" had increased. Nostalgia had begun for Willie mainly thanks to the home nations magnificent Wembley triumph.
Many world cup willie memorabilia items appear on Ebay, and many other websites for collectibles. the interest in all things Willie shows he is still fondly remembered today.
Willie was also inspirational in England's first world cup song.Sung by The King of Skiffle,Lonnie Donegan(probably to the tune of my old man's a dustman!). the only word's i remember are about willie bringing the cup home,and he sure delivered! I have to mention the song did not trouble the chart compilers that much!
The lion sleeps for now, and Willie is still king of the jungle in my eyes, so the legend lives on, and Willie is still top of the mascots so far.
Zakumi is the latest FIFA mascot to be introduced for the South Africa 2010 World Finals.He,and all the World Cup Mascots from 1966-2006 are featured in my other Hub. The Story So Far, so you can compare them for yourself.
So could Willie return when England next stage the World Cup Finals?Or will the FA marketing men need a new mascot for their next showpiece? Of course they will.Or do you really think he can make a comeback!
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