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An iconic image? Commonwealth Games mascots

Our Hosts and Champions exhibition has returned from a successful run in Glasgow during the 2014 Games and is currently on display in our Pathfoot Building. In this article Ian Mackintosh, our Exhibition Assistant, writes about the curious tale of the Games mascots…

Copy of original Clyde design by Beth Gilmour

Copy of original Clyde design by Beth Gilmour

Clyde the mascot of the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games has been hailed as a great commercial success. It was a unique selection in that the mascot was designed by Beth Gilmour a 12 year old Cumbernauld school pupil. Her design was selected from a Blue Peter completion. Her creation is also unique in that Clyde is the first non-animal/mammal mascot for the Commonwealth games.

If the Legal and Concessions Committee of the 1970 Edinburgh Games had been as bold as the 2014 Games Organisers it would all be so different. Dr. Fiona Skillen’s research into the 1970 Games brought a cute little guy called “Wee mannie” to my attention. The organisers had been bold enough to commission a mascot for the games because of the success of World Cup Willie in 1966. However whereas the World Cup mascot was a football playing lion, the mascot for the 1970 games was to be a kilted Haggis.

Wee Mannie

Wee Mannie, the unacceptable face of Commercialism and unloved mascot!

A high profile publicity launch in July 1969 was followed by a competition to name the mascot. Things soon turned sour however when the committee received 23 letters of complaint about the design. Yet despite over 400 entries to name the mascot from children from all over Britain “wee mannie” (above) was dropped. The committee claimed that the BCG Crest design (below) was more popular.

The acceptable face of Commercialism in 1970 this crest was used for badges that were sold at the games

The acceptable face of Commercialism in 1970 this crest was used for badges that were sold at the games

While the 1970 Games Committee claimed the idea of a mascot was not a popular one, on Saturday 18th July 1970 they must have regretted that decision. The Scottish Athletics team for the 1970 games had created a mascot for themselves. It was a huge teddy bear dressed in a navy blue Scottish Athletic team vest and white shorts named “Dunky Dick”.

Lachie Stewart won the 10,000 metres comfortably beating the great Australian runner Ron Clarke into second place.  What happed next was one of the most iconic sporting moments in Scottish sporting history. Scottish 800 metre hopeful Rosemary Stirling ran to the victorious Lachie Stewart and presented him with the mascot. The image of Lachie Stewart and the mascot became a global success. The mascot was to gain world-wide fame as the television and newspaper images were flashed around the world.

Lachie with Dunky Dick the unofficial mascot of the 1970 Edinburgh British Commonwealth Games

Lachie with Dunky Dick the unofficial mascot of the 1970 Edinburgh British Commonwealth Games

Now we should ponder, had the Committee forged ahead with the mascot would Lachie have been presented with a giant haggis instead? How about that for an iconic image? Imagine how many haggis mascots would have been sold? Is it a matter of regret about a missed opportunity? Ironically the 1978 Edmonton games became the first to have an official mascot. So Canada who gave us the Commonwealth Games also gave us the mascot. A golden opportunity for a Scottish first missed.