Blue Peter, The Football Association and BBC Sport teamed up on 12 February 2015 to launch a competition; CBBC Blue Peter viewers aged 6-15 years were invited to design a new FA Cup Mascot for this year’s Cup Final. Hundreds of children entered the competition, sending in their design submission, mascot name and the idea behind their entry to Blue Peter.
As part of the process to identify the winning entry, Rainbow Productions was invited to Media City, Salford to assist judges Phil Neville, Lucy Roberts-Hartley (The FA), Pete Andrews (BBC Sport) and Radzi Chinyanganya (Blue Peter Presenter), in selecting the winning design.
The judges decided on the entry from 12 year old Sandy from Fife: Billie the Horse. Sandy’s inspiration came from the story of the 1923 FA Cup Final match between Bolton Wanderers and West Ham United, where large crowds flooded the pitch ahead of the game, before order was restored by policemen on horses – notably a white horse named Billie who stood out amongst the sea of people, causing the match to be known as “The White Horse Final”.
With the competition winning design chosen, the project moved into the production phase. Sandy, Sandy’s Dad, Radzi and a Blue Peter camera crew visited Rainbow Productions’ studio in South London, to see developments after the company had been tasked with bringing Billie to life. Competition winner Sandy played a key role in the production process, choosing fabrics most aligned to transforming his design into the official FA Cup Walkabout Mascot.
Billie the Horse was finally revealed to Sandy – and c. 90,000 fans – on the pitch during the 2015 FA Cup Final on Saturday 30 May. Sandy’s prize also enabled him to watch the Arsenal vs. Aston Villa match, which saw Arsenal go on to win their record 12th FA Cup Final. Sandy also enjoyed a behind-the-scenes tour of Wembley Stadium and the BBC Sport studio, where he met sporting stars Gary Linekar and Phil Neville.
See Billie the Horse here during the Wembley unveiling.
Blue Peter is scheduled to air behind-the-scenes footage of Billie the Horse’s debut at the 2015 FA Cup Final, on CBBC on 4 June 2015.