There's so many reasons to take pride in Clyde

RONALD McDonald, Pudsey Bear and Hampden Roary...the list of weird and wonderful mascots out there is endless.

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But have any of them struck a lightning pose with Usain Bolt, patted Kate Middleton's baby bump and had dozens of statues erected in their honour? No they have not.

When it comes to mascots there's only one giant cuddly thistle in our hearts.

This week we reported how a petition had been launched to keep Glasgow 2014 icon Clyde in the spotlight. Such is the demand for the purple haired fella that more than 1600 signatures have been gathered to make him the city's permanent mascot.

You could argue there are more important issues going on in the world and you'd be right. But the power of a mascot can't be underestimated. I still have my childhood Angus the Bull - proud mascot of Aberdeen FC - soft toy and wouldn't dream of throwing him out.

If the marketing teams get it right, like they have with Clyde, mascots can appeal to all generations. The fact that Clyde was designed by schoolgirl Beth Gilmour adds to his appeal.

I do have a wee confession about Clyde, though.

When he was first unveiled two years ago I just didn't understand his purpose. I met him way back at the start and found his big eyes, sprouting hair and plant-based hands kind of creepy. Even backstage at events people would pander to him so I decided Clyde was a diva.

But, you know, it does take a while for a symbol to become accepted. And Clyde really did earn his place. The moment huge floral hedges of Clyde appeared outside Kelvingrove Museum and in Glasgow Green, my fondness of the thistle began to rise.

It looked like Edward Scissorhands was having a field day and I couldn't wait to see what was next.

I wasn't disappointed - because a series of Clydes wearing different outfits (I liked the Unicef one best) were dotted around the city to form a trail.

People have bought into the mascot too. He became a sell-out after all the cuddly Clydes, except a few of the 1m tall models sold out. More than 46,000 fans bought Clyde toys since the beginning of July, generating £675,000. Catherine Yuill, who is behind the petition urging officials to let Clyde stay, says he was the highlight of the Commonwealth Games.

That's maybe a bit much - surely the athletes like Erraid Davies, Lynsey Sharp and Micky Yule were the real stars?

But Clyde did have a certain je ne sais quoi and it would be nice to have him around a while longer.

If only to lighten up things as we enter the final sprint to the referendum.

I'd take Clyde the friendly thistle over the ducking and diving Alistair Darlings and Alex Salmonds of the world any day.

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