Jason Bailey loved going to soccer matches with his father. This became a little tricky after his dad died in 1999 – but that hasn’t stopped the fan of English club Walsall from trying.
Bailey takes along his dad’s false teeth to big Walsall matches as a lucky charm and a conduit to the spirit world, from where his father inspires The Saddlers to victory. Although clearly not that often, as they’re fifteenth in League One.
“He was a big practical joker, he was always playing jokes with his false teeth, dropping them into pints and various pranks,” Bailey told the Mirror. “They always brought happy memories for me.”
The clincher for him came during a promotion play-off against Reading in 2001. “We was losing 2-1 and I took the teeth out of my pocket, spoke to my dad for some inspiration for the team, gave the teeth a kiss and a hug, said a little prayer and we came back from losing 2-1 and won the match 3-2 so it’s sort of like a lucky emblem and all the big, important games I’ve started taking the teeth with me,” he said.
Now, with Walsall facing Bristol City at Wembley on Sunday in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy final (like a Europa League for small English clubs, with all the profile that implies), the dentures will be deployed again.
“Me and the teeth will be having another little journey, off to Wembley to see the final,” said Bailey, who stores them in his wife’s jewelry box at home.
As bizarre sports superstitions go, it’s not quite the Detroit Red Wings throwing octopuses on to the ice, or Kazakhstan’s Shakhter Karagandy being threatened with UEFA sanctions for ritually slaughtering a sheep before a Champions League game, but it’s pretty good.