Fans' View

Fans’ View: A fan’s idea for a Union mascot

 Editor’s note: Union fan James Lockerbie asked to share this with our readership a few days ago, and we were happy to. James is a 37-year-old married father of two who works as a 911 call center operator and volunteers as a youth soccer coach. He and his brother, Rob, used to play soccer together. 

Philadelphia Union are polling their fan base about the possibility of adding a mascot. Based on the reactions of fans on this website and elsewhere, it seems there is a large population of fans that do not like the idea of a team mascot.

But here’s an idea my brother, a Sons of Ben founding member, shared with me this past summer, a few weeks before he unexpectedly passed away in August.

My brother envisioned a Benjamin Franklin actor sitting at an old fashion desk holding a quill pen. After a Union player scores a goal, Ben would write out a goal proclamation noting the player, time of goal and visiting team the goal was scored against. When he finished filling out the proclamation and the “Doop” song ended, he would show the crowd the proclamation, then roll it up and seal it with wax seals of the Sons of Ben and Union.

Ben could also react to the run of play, banging his cane against the floor of the platform. Mr. Franklin could try to assist the SoB leaders in keeping fans involved in the game (not that they would need to much help with that).

At the end of the game Mr. Franklin could present the proclamation to the player(s) who scored during the game. With the player’s permission, some of those proclamations could be auctioned off for the Union foundation.

Maybe the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce could assist the Union or the Sons of Ben with locating and or paying for the actor. The Chamber could use the footage of the celebration in commercials promoting the tourist industry.

In the past, it has sometimes felt as if the Union marketing department and/or front office have tried to “force” traditions on the fan base. For example, the Four-Leaf Clover song at the 20:10 mark of games has long been a Sons of Ben tradition in the River End but attempts last season to make it a stadium wide tradition failed. Most fans don’t like the force feeding of traditions, which may explain a lot of the apprehension of the fans to the idea of a mascot. My brother would not enjoy the idea of a cheerleader squad, or a Phillie Phanatic type mascot.

But this would be different: A tradition that started with an idea from the wider Union fan base.

Do you think this is a good idea? Should this idea become reality?

Then tell the Union and the Sons of Ben. I have spoken to the Sons of Ben president and the Union marketing department, and both have reacted positively to the idea. Thank you for the opportunity to post this. I hope it can inspire consideration and debate of the merit of my brother’s idea.


  1. Pork Sandwich says:

    I’m available….

  2. So Timber Franklin?

    • UPVOTE!

    • james lockerbie says:

      Yes, my brother shared your concern about the similarities between his idea and the lumberjack. However since the supporter’s group is named in Ben’s honor. I was hoping that would be enough to justify our celebration as our own. Thanks for your comment. This is the kinda of debate I was hoping for.

  3. Ben Franklin and The Legends of Lockerbie. Story in the making…

  4. Well, that would certainly beat having some cartoonish, plush-looking snake thingy with a name like “Sir Hiss.”

    • Are you sure? Think about what you just said, that could be amazing.

    • This sir, is a gold mine in the eyes of the Union. I would not be surprised if you saw this one day. Although, I would have to call him “Sir Hiss-a-Lot” and he would dance to “I like big butts” before every game.

  5. Harumph! Harumph! Harumph!

  6. I somehow ended up on the dude who plays Franklin in Old City’s mailing list… seems he’s always gunning for work (yes, even Bar Mitzvahs and weddings apparently) — I have a feeling the team could snag him on the cheap.

  7. I like the idea personally – especially because it came from a fan. Very sorry for your loss by the way, James. The signed proclamations would be a valuable auction item for the Foundation.

  8. my idea for a Union mascot is a nondescript black squiggle called ennui

  9. Your brother had a great idea! This needs to happen. Yes, there probably will be a “sir hiss a lot” for the kids, so I think the adults should have something fun also.

    • James lockerbie says:

      Thank you, for your comment. I hope this does happen looking forward to taking my two nephews and
      my son to a game. Of course, I will still take them to a game even if this does not become a reality

  10. OneManWolfpack says:

    Very similar to Portland, but I really like the idea. WAY better than a dancing bear or some $hit… then again, if fans like this, we’ll have a dancing bear shoved down our throats.
    All in all, I like the idea a lot. I think the SOBs should start doing it. That would definitely catch on

  11. james lockerbie says:

    Thank you Philly Soccer Page for sharing this story. Keep those comments coming. Thank you everyone for sharing your thoughts

  12. Although the comparison to Timber Joey did come to mind, I also see this akin to the musketeers (?) who shoot their – wait for it – muskets after every Revs goal.
    I could see the FO taking this to the extreme, however. Imagine this on the jumbotron:
    All levity aside, so sorry for your loss, James.

  13. Soccer is not the type of sport that lends itself to requiring a mascot or some other form of “entertainment” between multiple and lengthy and mind-numbing breaks (i.e., baseball, basketball and american football). Quite frankly, I think a mascot cheapens and “cheese-i-fies” the experience. I don’t mean this to be an attack on this writer’s particular idea (which, if forced to endure a “mascot”, is not an awful idea), but the concept of a mascot for this team overall.

  14. Love this idea!

  15. Atomic spartan says:

    Not a big fan of mascots in soccer either, but this has merit. Possible tie in with Franklin Institute, simulated lightning, even an annual SOB souvenir Almanack maybe. The Proclamations would be an unusually genteel touch for a sports team. The low key approach might end up being less offensive to us purists.

  16. HuskerPrincess says:

    We have the Bimbo bear, that’s mascot-y enought for fans to experience. And then the game starts. So a Ben Franklin character that has a righteous historic attitude sounds really cool. And it would be enough for the kids too. Perhaps ‘tryouts’ should be held – a new Ben every game or take care of it at a special event. I think it should be a volunteer position (with expenses covered). Hey, someone’s going to get free admission to all home games, right? The SOBs do enough cheering and rabble rousing for the entire stadium. James, you and your dear brother obviously know what Philly soccer is about. Let’s continue to be unique. Hey, if the team wins, we’ll give Ben the credit. If the season goes the other way… Can’t wait until March!!

    • James lockerbie says:

      That’s not a bad idea a ben look a like competition
      starting with sob members or it could be an open casting call like an audition. I would say that would be a decision for the SoB leadership or the union marketing dept,but I like the way your thinking thanks for the comment

      • I say we should all go out and get powdered wigs and colonial style outfits and all dress up. The River End would look like the End of a Thousand Bens.

  17. Honestly the last thing this dog and pony show needs is a mascot. It goes along with the U17 mentality of this organization. Put a quality team on the pitch and then talk about mascots. This all just completes the picture “Bimbo” on the kits and a mascot. I just want a team that competes at the highest level and represents this soccer region the way it should.

  18. I like this idea, James. It has a lot of great elements to it: it ties terrifically to our city and the SoB section; it’s not an “in your face” mascot like a typical US team mascot (I love the Phillie Phanatic, but I don’t want him or anything like him at PPL); it presents a player with a cool momento – sort of like in baseball when they save the ball from a player’s first hit; it has the chance to be a fantastic charitable event as well, tying in nicely with the Foundation.
    Union FO – make it happen!
    And please accept my condolences for Rob’s passing. As much of a pain in the ass as he can be sometimes, I can’t imagine life without my brother. Best wishes to you and your family as you search for your peace.

  19. Maybe a Sons of Ben member can correct me if I am wrong but I feel like I remember the Union agreeing to never have a mascot back when the SOB’s were campaigning for a team to come to Philly.

    • James lockerbie says:

      Jason, I do believe my brother mentioned something like,that about five years ago. I think now, would be a good time to reconsider this line of thought.

      My family and I went to the game in may it was star wars theme day. My son had a great time and like all 10 year olds he was more interested in the popcorn. Until cruz scored his two goals The whole family went crazy. While I stood there in shock. The crowd went nuts and the Doop song was as awesome as it was the first game. Now imagine continuing that excitement as the crowd reacts to Benjamin Franklin holding out the proclamation towards each section of the stadium.

  20. We could call him Allocation and have him dress in a dollar suit…I like the idea of Ben Franklin. But if he has a gaint head I will drop kick him into the Delaware.

  21. This is all bread and circus from Union FO. Stop supporting this. FO should take of the product between the touch lines and not this nonsense.

  22. Should have said FO should take “care” of the product between the touch lines and not this nonsense.

    • James lockerbie says:


      This is not an F.O. Circus. This was a conversation between two brothers while watching a soccer game. Neither one of us knowing we only had a few weeks left to have this kind of chat. I have been asking everyone to express their opinion pro/con to the Sons of Ben or Union F. O. in the hopes that this goal celebration could be a really cool legacy left by my brother for his two sons and the Union family to enjoy. I also hope that the Union can get the pieces they need to get them into the playoffs!

  23. I am all compassion and sympathy for the story behind this, losing a sibling has to be very hard.
    All respect to your brother, but N-O-B-O-D-Y likes paperwork…It’s even worse to watch someone else do it in front of you.
    I don’t see how this idea generates any excitement on it’s own, much less INCREASES or EXTENDS the level of excitement in the stadium after a goal. The “DOOP” is pretty awesome all by itself (If EVERYONE is psyched to join in, it’s a pretty good idea).
    “Four Leaf Clover” at the 20 minute mark (WHY???) is already pathetic enough (Jesus, if the SOBs can’t let go of that once and for all, at least sing it when the team comes out of the tunnel like most supports groups do…At least there would be a CHANCE some of the “other 14,000 fans who love the Union” would hear it and want to sing along.)
    If it doesn’t have the same appeal and impact that “Fly Eagles Fly” has had after a touchdown in Philly, then I think it’s a pretty bad idea.
    Not trying to be mean here or anything, but if you’re going to float an idea like that out, I think it’s best you get honest feedback both for or against. The worst thing that could happen here is for you to get the idea that this is widely and enthusiastically supported just because you didn’t see (or simply ignored) anyone who didn’t this was a great idea. I’m pretty certain, based on conversations and message exchanges I’ve had, that there are a a pretty significant number of supporters out there that feel the same way, but aren’t going to say it, because it would seem “insensitive”. Well, I don’t believe emotion should be a factor in deciding whether something is a good or bad idea.
    I’m pretty sure if Eric Shertz, (and a LOT of people LOVED Eric), had floated the idea that someone should jump the fence and lap the pitch buck naked after every every goal it probably would have had SOME support, but most would have said “Maybe…not. But, we will still raise a toast to you Eric!”.
    Now mind you, if this actually happens in the stadium, it won’t be anything I would “protest”, as long as you’re having your fun in a way that doesn’t ruin everyone else’s fun (should probably think about that when you’re “workin’ blue” SOBs, could be the very reason 14,000 people aren’t too interested in following your “lead”). I’m just saying don’t be shocked when this attention stealing stunt epically fails to do just that.
    “You can always tell your friends from you enemies, your friends will stab you in the front.”

  24. James Lockerbie says:


    I truly hope the positive responses to this article were from readers that really enjoy the idea. On March 20th the 1st home game of this new season Ben Franklin will be in the River End. Ben will have an opportunity to present a goal proclamation(s) to the Union Player(S) that scored a goal during the game.

    This very well maybe the first and only time this occurs, if so I will be extremely happy, that Rob’s idea came to life. I thank you for sharing your opinion. I think the gentleman, I found to play the role of Ben Franklin just may win the fans over and You may feel differently once you see him in action.

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