This story first surfaced as a ‘diary job’ before the 2006 World Cup when the Chronicle got a call to say a local lad, Louis, had won the chance to be a mascot for, he thought, England.
Some weeks later I spoke to Louis’ dad for a follow-up and discovered that he wouldn’t be leading out England but would be Germany’s mascot because of a misunderstanding. Possibly due to the silly season before a World Cup, the story was picked up by the national press, Sky News and German media.
As a consulation, McDonalds offered Louis the chance to be a mascot at that year’s Charity Shield season opener, as well as tickets for an England group game at the tournament itself.
The good news: You’re a World Cup mascot-The bad news: You’re leading out the Germans
by Paul McMillan, Newcastle Evening Chronicle, June 6, 2006
Cheesed-off Louis Moffat was looking forward to leading out Sven’s men – but instead he’s a mascot to Jurgen’s Germans.
The six-year-old was delighted to beat 50,000 other youngsters across the country in a McDonald’s competition for what he believed was the chance to be a mascot at one of England’s World Cup group games.
To celebrate, Louis even met England’s 1966 hat-trick hero Sir Geoff Hurst, director of football for the fast food giant, at one of their North East restaurants.
Sir Geoff said it would be an experience the Low Fell under sevens player would never forget.
But Louis and dad Simon were miffed after learning the youngster from Kibblesworth, Gateshead, would be leading out Germany, managed by Jurgen Klinsmann, in the tournament’s opening game against Costa Rica in Munich on Friday.
He had been looking forward to meeting his footballing heroes Michael Owen, David Beckham and Steven Gerrard, but may need some help recognising the German side.
Louis said: “I would have liked an England game because I don’t know any of the German players. I have been telling everyone I would be mascot for England. I had been looking forward to meeting the team.”
When McDonald’s set up the meeting with Sir Geoff last month a company spokeswoman said it did not know at which match Louis would be a mascot.
But his dad, Simon, who is accompanying Louis on the trip, said the family had been given the impression the youngster would be involved in one of England’s fixtures against Paraguay, Trinidad and Tobago or Sweden.
He said: “It’s still a fantastic prize but I think to promise a kid something like that then not go through with it is very unprofessional.
“They were not sure which game it was but we were told it was one of the England games. They sent the tickets on Friday morning and it’s Germany vs Costa Rica. Louis had already told everybody we know. Everybody in the parks, the swimming baths, they were all going to be looking for him.
“A lot of people really did not believe he had actually won and said they would watch and see if he was there. I don’t think it’s been put together very well.”
A McDonald’s spokeswoman said it would be getting in touch with the family to clear up any misunderstanding.
She added: “If there has been any misunderstanding we completely apologise. It’s still absolutely fantastic that they are going to the opening game and the opening ceremony, which I am assured is going to be absolutely wonderful.
“The competition was for a variety of different matches – the opening, some of the group games and the later stages of the competition. It was for a variety of different player-escort places.”
Mascot finally sees his heroes
by Paul McMillan
A young World Cup mascot’s dreams of leading out some of his England heroes on to the pitch has finally come true.
Louis Moffat was among youngsters chosen to lead out the teams in yesterday’s Community Shield clash between Liverpool and Chelsea in Cardiff.
The day had been organised by McDonald’s after the six-year-old from Kibblesworth, Gateshead, missed out on meeting England during the tournament earlier this summer.
After seeing off competition from 50,000 youngsters, Louis had thought he would be leading out stars like John Terry, Frank Lampard and his hero Steven Gerrard by winning a Happy Meal competition. But, due to a mix-up, he was put into a different winners draw and instead led out the teams for the World Cup curtain raiser between Germany and Costa Rica.
After his story was featured in the Chronicle, red-faced restaurant bosses offered yesterday’s alternative, much to Louis’ delight. They had also offered to pay for Louis’ parents and brother Harrison, 17, to make the trip to Cardiff.
It was the second time McDonald’s had made up for the blunder after presenting Louis with a pair of tickets for England’s World Cup group game against Trinidad and Tobago.
Louis’s dad Simon Harris, 42, said: “I really don’t think it would have happened without the pressure of the Chronicle story.”
A spokeswoman for McDonald’s said it had spoken to Louis’s family and was offering the Community Shield spot as a gesture of goodwill.