Sammy Smyth

Sammy Smyth


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Samuel (Sammy) Smyth was born in Belfast on 25th February 1925. An inside-forward, he played for Linfield and Dunela before being signed by Ted Vizard, the manager of Wolverhampton Wanderers in July 1947 for a fee of £1,100. He joined a team that included Johnny Hancocks, Dennis Westcott, Jesse Pye, Jimmy Dunn, Jimmy Mullen, Billy Crook, Roy Pritchard, Billy Wright, Bert Williams, Bill Shorthouse and Terry Springthorpe.

Despite taking Wolves to third place in the 1946-47 season Ted Vizard was replaced by his assistant Stan Cullis in June 1948. The following year Cullis led Wolves to the FA Cup final against Leicester City. Wolves won the game 3-1 with Jesse Pye scoring two goals in the first-half and Smyth netting another in the 68th minute.

The following season Wolves finished in 2nd place in the First Division. However, Smyth was sold to Stoke City in September 1951 for a fee of £25,000. He had scored 43 goals in 116 cup and league appearances for Wolves. Smyth only stayed with his new club for one season. In January 1951 he was sold to Liverpool for £12,000.

Smyth made his debut for his new club against Stoke City in January 1953. The following month he scored the first of his 20 goals for the club against Middlesbrough. He was sold to Bangor for £2,000 in January 1955. He retired from football at the end of the 1954-55 season.

Smyth returned to Belfast where he worked as a bookmaker. Later he opened his own sports shop business.


Sammy Smyth

Samuel Smyth was a Northern Irish footballer who played in the Football League for Wolverhampton Wanderers, Stoke City and Liverpool.

1. Career
Smyth was born in Belfast in 1925 and played for local clubs Distillery, Linfield and Dundela in the Irish League before being signed by English Football League side Wolverhampton Wanderers in July 1947 for a fee of £1.100. Despite taking Wolves to third place in the 1946–47 season manager Ted Vizard was replaced by his assistant Stan Cullis in June 1948. The following year Cullis led Wolves to the FA Cup final against Leicester City, Jesse Pye scoring two goals in the first half and Smyth netting another in the 68th minute. The following season Wolves finished in 2nd place in the First Division. He had scored 43 goals in 116 cup and league appearances for Wolves.
In September 1951 Stoke City paid a club record fee of £25.000 to Wolves for Smyth in a bid to help them avoid relegation after an awful start to the 1951–52 season. Smyth had the desired impact at the Victoria Ground as he scored 12 vital goals as Stoke escaped the drop by three points. He scored five goals in 14 matches in 1952–53 before being sold to Liverpool in January 1953 for a fee of £12.000. Smyth made his debut for his new club against the side he just departed, Stoke just days later. He spent two seasons at Anfield scoring 20 goals in 44 appearances.

2. After football
Smyth returned to Belfast where he played for Bangor and also worked as a bookmaker. He later opened his own sports distribution business which sold sports equipment throughout Ireland. He and his wife Enid regularly traveled to the Caribbean to visit their daughter and after his wifes passing in 2002 he later moved to live with his daughter. He died on 19 October 2016 at the age of 91 and was the last surviving player from the 1949 FA Cup winning team and the Stoke City team.


Sammy Smyth transferred to Stoke City

September 28, 1951
Stoke City are expected to complete negotiations today for the transfer of Sammy Smyth, Wolverhampton’s Irish international inside forward. Last night Stoke reached agreement with the Wolves on the transfer fee – which is in the region of £20,000 – a record sum for the Potteries club to pay.

Earlier in the day Stoke’s manager, Mr. Bob McGrory, had settled terms with Smyth. Manager McGrory is due at Wolverhampton at mid-day today to complete the transfer deal. If it goes through according to plan, Smyth will be at inside forward in the Stoke team at home to Burnley.

This is the third transfer buy by the injury-hit City club in four weeks. Willie McIntosh was secured from Blackpool for £9,000 and Alan Martin from Port Vale for £14,000 – a then club record fee – plus the player-exchange of Albert Mullard.

Smyth, aged 26, joined Wolves from Linfield, the Irish League club four seasons ago and was in Wolves’ FA Cup winning team.
(Birmingham Daily Gazette: September 28, 1951 via http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk) © 2018 Findmypast Newspaper Archive Limited)

Watched by Stoke City’s veteran manager, Mr. Bob McGrory, £20,000 Sammy Smyth signs for the Potteries club at Molineux yesterday.

(Birmingham Daily Gazette: September 29, 1951)


Sammy Smyth - History

Wolves’ history is littered with players who arrived in these parts from different corners of the UK, married local girls and stayed in the area Liverpudlian Jimmy Dunn, for example.

Sammy Smyth, who outlived his fellow inside-forward by almost two years in becoming the last survivor of the first post-war Wolves team to win the FA Cup, was one of those of whom we saw much less.

Although he, too, wed a Wolverhampton lass and returned here from time to time even into his 80s, he was very much drawn back to his native Northern Ireland and was there around a decade ago when I interviewed him for the only time.

I recall a deep voice, a very strong accent and a dry sense of humour……distinctive qualities that marked him out and made you wish you could have seen and heard much more of him. No wonder he has been described by family members this week as having had great character and a twinkle in his eye.

“It is pronounced Smith, not Smythe,” he told me, putting one common misconception to flight. But didn’t the man with the plummy voice on those Pathe News reels call him the latter? “I gave up trying to tell people in the end!” he added.

You Tube apparently does only partial justice to the most famous of the 43 goals he scored for Wolves. ‘One of the best ever seen at Wembley’ is a compliment conferred on it by those lucky enough to have been present at the 1949 Cup final victory over Leicester but the surviving footage just shows some of the early build-up and then, after some clumsy editing, Smyth’s clinical left-foot finish across the keeper.

How vital he was in that historic run. He netted twice in the 6-0 third-round thrashing of Chesterfield, once in the fifth-round conquest at home to Liverpool and then the close-range headed winner at Goodison Park in the semi-final replay against Manchester United, who had also had their defence breached by him in the original meeting at Hillsborough a week earlier.

The facts and figures are impressive, debut day having come in a 4-3 defeat at Manchester City on the opening day of 1947-48 towards the end of a summer in which Wolves manager Ted Vizard paid Dundella £1,100 for him.

Already an Irish amateur international from his time with Distillery, Smyth hit a brace in an 8-1 rout of Grimsby on his home bow in the following midweek and struck again when Blackburn were thumped 5-1 only three days later.

The inside-forward challenges in a game at Middlesbrough in 1950.

He levelled off following this dizzying introduction to League football but contributed five more goals in the campaign, all while wearing the no 10 jersey, and became even more established in the Cup-winning season by finishing as the club’s leading marksman with 22 from a total of 46 Division One and FA Cup games.

He and Dunn, who each lived to the age of 91, switched inside-forward roles either side of centre-forward Jesse Pye and needed to maintain high standards. The young Dennis Wilshaw scored ten times in only seven appearances immediately prior to Wembley, so there was a fierce clamour for places on the biggest stage.

Cullis stayed loyal to his Cup fighters, though, by naming the forward line that had played throughout the previous six matches in the run and Smyth delivered the killer third goal at the twin towers after Second Division hopefuls Leicester had pulled one back and had what would have been an equaliser disallowed for offside.

Sammy is not prominent among the players ‘chairing’ Billy Wright on many of the post-match celebration photos and the Bills – Wright, Crook and Shorthouse – were infiltrated only by the two-goal Pye at the head of the queue when the players went up to receive their silverware and medals from the young lady still known as Princess Elizabeth. But he was pictured pouring champagne into the Cup afterwards.

International recognition had by now come Smyth’s way, with his debut against Scotland in his native Belfast being marked by a 2-0 victory in which he scored both goals. His second game was a draw at Goodison Park against an England side inevitably containing his club captain.

Eight of the nine full caps (with five goals) this former Irish League representative and Linfield man won came while he was at Wolves, the last one following a few weeks after Stoke had signed him for a club record £25,000 in September, 1951.

His Molineux stay ultimately stretched to 116 League and Cup matches, his goals therefore coming at the rate of well over one every three games in a team who tailed off for a couple of years after being pipped to the League title on goal average by Portsmouth in 1949-50.

The presence of Roy Swinbourne and Johnny Walker weakened Smyth’s hold on a place and Cullis had presumably seen enough of Peter Broadbent’s prodigious talent to convince him he should clear the decks a little. Before departing, Smyth made only one Wolves appearance in the 1951-52 campaign and marked the occasion with a goal at Blackpool.

How the Stoke Sentinel reflected on his life and career this week…..

Despite playing largely in relegation-threatened teams, he chipped in with 19 goals from 44 appearances in the Potteries and, from January, 1953 after being sold by the former Wolves full-back Frank Taylor, 20 times from 44 outings for Liverpool.

The Stoke Sentinel reports that Smyth produced a man of the match performance on his debut in a win at home to Burnley and even caught and carried to safety a fox terrier that had invaded the pitch. He remained the Potters’ costliest buy for more than a decade until the arrival of former Wanderers wing-half Eddie Clamp from Arsenal and was both their and Wolves’ oldest surviving player come the time of the news that has had flags flying at half mast at Molineux this week.

Liverpudlian life offered Smyth an easier route home and he played across the Irish Sea for Bangor while and before settling into a successful post-football career that took in spells as a bookmaker, a shopkeeper and, for many years, a wholesaler and distributor of sports equipment, working with major companies like Puma, Peter Storm and Slazenger.

Home for several decades was Holywood in County Down but, following the death of his wife Enid in 2002, he used to go to stay for the winter with his daughter Sheena in Georgetown in the Cayman Islands each year. We trust it is no coincidence that his return used to be planned for the beginning of March just before for the Cheltenham Festival.

It became clear several years ago that Sammy would not be coming back any more as he was suffering badly with Alzheimer’s – news that made those occasional earlier visits here, including for the launch of the Forever Wolves book in 2002, something to be cherished even more.

A much more recent photo of Sammy.

He leaves behind a son Ian, 61, as well as the 58-year-old Sheena, plus grandchildren, Jennie, Lauren, and Lara.

Smyth’s family are holding a funeral a week on Saturday in the Cayman Islands before returning his ashes to his church in Glencraig, County Down.


Later activity

Smyth was interviewed by The News Letter in 1976 and he discussed the formation and development of the then legal UDA in some detail with the paper. [18] Around the same time he gave an interview to The Gown in which he endorsed sectarian killings, arguing that "war exists in Northern Ireland and in a war situation there are no innocent people" before adding that "there will be no room for R.C.s [Roman Catholics] in a new state". [19] Despite these pronouncements Smyth had returned to his earlier interests in housing advocacy and was again working on behalf of some Catholics. [7] He was a regular visitor to the staunchly republican New Lodge area where he was involved in housing issues. [4] For his own part Smyth had moved to Downshire Park East in the Cregagh area of east Belfast. [4]

In 1976, Smyth was caught in the crossfire of a loyalist feud between the UDA and the UVF which had its roots in the UWC strike and which had continued on and off ever since. In early 1976 Smyth, who was still acting as spokesman for the UDA on an occasional basis, was attacked at his home by members of the UVF and, whilst he was able to prevent them from entering the house, he still suffered minor injuries in the attack. [20]

On 10 March 1976, Smyth was shot and killed by the IRA whilst he visited his sister on Alliance Avenue in Ardoyne. He was 46 years old. [21]


Behind The Song: “Sometimes Love Just Ain’t Enough” by Patty Smyth with Don Henley

Patty Smyth and Glen Burtnik knew they had a powerful song when they co-wrote “Sometimes Love Just Ain’t Enough,” with Smyth even weeping after writing an emotional bridge section. But it took some reassuring from close friends and several valiant attempts tracking the song to finally get to the released version that wound up on Smyth’s 1992 self-titled release. In fact, Eddie Van Halen laid down guitar parts on an early version, a second version was recorded in Nashville, and Don Henley, Sheryl Crow and E Street Band member Roy Bittan (who produced the record) perform on the final, released recording of the 1992 Grammy-nominated song. “Sometimes Love Just Ain’t Enough” is testament to persisting at your craft when you know you have a great song that conveys a universal sentiment of love lost through no specific fault of either person.

But there’s a danger in loving somebody too much
And it’s sad when you know it’s your heart you can’t trust
There’s a reason why people don’t stay where they are
Baby, sometimes love just ain’t enough

The late 1980s was a whirlwind time of change for Smyth. Her band Scandal had broken up, and she was not happy with the production and song arrangements on her then-recently released record, 1987’s Never Enough, a solo record in name only in her eyes. “That record ran away from me. It was supposed to be a Scandal record, and I did not want it put out as a solo record. I didn’t feel like it was one.”

On the personal level, Smyth had an 18-month old baby and her two-year marriage to innovative punk singer Richard Hell was ending. All this and more was wearing on her psyche when she met up with New Jersey songwriter Glen Burtnik for a writing session.

“I had this profound thought that what happens when you love someone so much that it’s so scary it’s dangerous?” Smyth told American Songwriter. “That idea- there’s a danger in loving somebody so much- kept rolling around in my head. When Glen sat down at the piano that was the first place I went because it was the seed I was working on. There was so much going on. I was getting divorced, it was about my baby, dad, you name it, everyone.”

Burtnik, who was basking in the success of a few critically acclaimed solo albums, was in a completely different headspace when they first got together to write. “I remember it well. We were in my manager’s studio. We were trying to write another rock hit for her. I had ‘The Warrior’ in my mind. We had some ideas. Suddenly, my manager’s staff broke into the room with a cake because it was my birthday, which of course interrupted our writing. After we blew out the candles and that was over, I sat down at the piano and I started to play the verse idea for what became the song.”

Smyth started singing words to Burtnik’s chords right away. “I believe I wrote the first verse and chorus that day. Then I had to figure out the second section and the B section. I remember writing the bridge in my apartment in New York on 5 th Avenue and 10 th Street, weeping while I wrote it. It was weird that I choked myself up because that never happens.”

When it came time for the chorus, Burtnik used an idea he had written in high school. “Musically, I had all the ingredients there. There’s a couple play on words. We worked on the song on and off over the phone. It wasn’t a one day write but lyrically, Patty took over.”

Glen Burtnik performs at Lakehouse Studios in Asbury Park, NJ

Smyth knew she had the makings of a good song. “I knew it came from somewhere because it just fell out of me. Glen knew too, but when I sang it to him, he said it was too dark.”

Burtnik concurs with Smyth’s recollection. “I argued with her about the title a lot. I thought it was a really long title. I questioned if that was a good idea for a single, something that had such a dark, negative title. But there you go, what do I know.”

As Smyth recalls, it took a phone call to a rock legend to convince the pair not only that was it a good song, but that he would sing it on himself. “I sang backup on a couple Don Henley records, so I called Don up and sang it to him and asked if he would sing on it. He agreed and said, ‘Man it’s really beautiful. It’s great.’ I told Don that Glen thought the lyrics were too dark. And Don said, ‘Tell him to wake up and smell the fuckin’ coffee. The world is dark!’ I never forgot that!”

Though Burtnik was unsure of the title as a potential lead single, he was convinced of the song’s power. “There’s a harmony part I sang, and when she sang it to Don before recording it, he reacted in a real positive way and said it was a great song. At the time, Don was on top of the world. That was the vote of confidence we needed to confirm that it would be a single.”

CD Single cover of Patty Smyth’s Sometimes Love Just Ain’t Enough

The first attempt at recording “Sometimes Love Just Ain’t Enough” took place in Los Angeles sometime in 1988, and Smyth has mixed feelings about the entire session, specifically the producer’s behavior. “I recorded it in Los Angeles with a big producer in LA and had Eddie Van Halen on it and Henley sang on it. Eddie’s a wonderful person and awesome guy. But the producer, who will remain nameless, was rude to Don.”

Smyth had appeared on several of Henley’s records, most notably singing backup vocals on his 1984 hit “Sunset Grill.” “You can pick her voice out in the choruses,” Burtnik notes. “She has a great voice with that rasp that Henley has. I think of her as the female Don Henley.”

“Don would have sung on as much as needed,” Smyth adds. “The coolest part is that he sang a harmony over me on the second B section. People who have played with me for years have fought with me saying it was me that sang the high harmony over me in that second B section. Don sounds like me up there and I sound like him. But it was him. I’ve had multiple showdowns with people, and I have to say, ‘It’s him, not me.’”

For the guitar parts, Smyth recalls, “Eddie played these real curly, swirling parts that are really nice. I’d have to find the original demo, I’m not even sure where it is now. He played on a couple of things. He was amazing and wonderful and played on everything I threw at him.”

Several years prior, in fact, Smyth had been rumored to be a potential new singer in Van Halen, prior to Sammy Hagar joining. For the record, Smyth has nothing but wonderful things to say about her friendship with Van Halen. “It really bugs me in all these articles about me turning down Van Halen. They say I said it’s because they were drinking. That wasn’t what I said. There were multiple things. I was eight months pregnant and that was the number one reason. It wasn’t because they were drunk. They were raucous brothers who fought a lot. Like I said, I wish he had asked me to make a record with him. If he did, we would have done that. And moving my whole life to Los Angeles was too big of an ask at that point. But it all turned out well. Sammy did a great job and made a great record with them.” (Editor’s note: this interview took place prior to Van Halen’s passing and was scheduled to post today).

Smyth was signed to Columbia Records at the time, who, amazingly, passed on the record. “The song sounded very similar to how we know it now,” Burtnik recalls. “She gave it to Columbia, and they said they didn’t hear any singles and dropped her.” Smyth went to Nashville and tracked the song again with producer Barry Beckett at the helm, using different players, Memphis horns and a more R&B feel. Still, she found little support in the song. “I knew at that point in time it wasn’t right for what I was doing. I had to make that painful decision to scrap those sessions.”

The third time proved to be the charm for Smyth, who found a kinder, more sympathetic producer in Roy Bittan, keyboardist for Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, who had relocated to Los Angeles from New Jersey, working with Springsteen on what became his Human Touch and Lucky Town records.

“Roy put the band and team together and he did a great job- Tim Pierce on guitar, Kenny Aronoff on drum, Nick DiDia engineering.” Even Dann Huff, who produced her new record It’s About Time, which is officially released this week, was part of the session.

Henley was also back on board for another pass at vocals, and wound up singing more, thanks to Bittan’s encouragement. “He was just supposed to sing the choruses. Roy got me to get him to sing the other part,” Smyth revealed. “I am not a duet fan. I love singing with Don and he’s probably the only person on the planet I would sing one with them.”

Bittan’s keyboard expertise and production sensibilities also played a part in the song’s instrumental melody, according to Burtnik. “He added that instrumental line at the top of the song and we loved it.”

Sheryl Crow was in the beginnings of her career and working in the studio next door when she was recruited to sing backups on Smyth’s recording. “I knew Sheryl because she sang backgrounds with Don. She was working with Hugh Padgham before she came out with Tuesday Night Music Club.” It was a case of being in the right place at the right time. “She was there, and I asked her to come sing.”

Smyth recalls the whole experience recording what she considers to be her first true solo album as a wonderful time. “That was unbelievable, maybe the best time I’ve had in the studio. It was insanely fun. I started doing theme days- pajama days and Nick drove to work on his motorcycle in his pajamas. Then a Hollywood day where we all had to be glamorous. We were laughing and it was so much fun. And they were such a good band. They were great, fun guys who were into doing whatever and I know they enjoyed coming to work.”

Interestingly, in the period between the writing of the song and its eventual release in 1992, Henley wrote and released his massive song “The Heart Of The Matter,” a song which has a similar lyrical theme and appeared on his 1989 album The End Of The Innocence. “I really feel there’s a connection! That song was not written yet. He was working on that album. There’s a similar essence. I love that song, possibly more than mine. There’s something in there, where you’re coming from and how it’s not anybody’s fault.”

“Sometimes Love Just Ain’t Enough” and Smyth found a home with MCA Records, who signed her and took the song to the top of the Billboard Mainstream and Contemporary charts and #2 on the Top 100 in 1992. Burtnik, who has also written hits for Randy Travis, Styx and currently fronts the retro-power pop band The Weeklings, always felt the song would make an impact, calling the song a “lovely ballad.”

“That convinced me of something I always thought about music. You can have a great song, but if it’s not in the right hands, it’s not going to be recognized by the world.”


Contents

Smyth was born in Belfast in 1925 Ώ] and played for local clubs Distillery, Linfield and Dundela in the Irish League before being signed by English Football League side Wolverhampton Wanderers in July 1947 for a fee of £1,100. Ώ] Despite taking Wolves to third place in the 1946–47 season manager Ted Vizard was replaced by his assistant Stan Cullis in June 1948. The following year Cullis led Wolves to the FA Cup final against Leicester City, Jesse Pye scoring two goals in the first half and Smyth netting another in the 68th minute. Ώ] Smyth had scored both Wolves goals in the two semi-final games against Manchester Utd. The following season Wolves finished in 2nd place in the First Division. He had scored 43 goals in 116 cup and league appearances for Wolves. Ώ]

In September 1951 Stoke City paid a club record fee of £25,000 to Wolves for Smyth in a bid to help them avoid relegation after an awful start to the 1951–52 season. Ώ] Smyth had the desired impact at the Victoria Ground as he scored 12 vital goals as Stoke escaped the drop by three points. Ώ] He scored five goals in 14 matches in 1952–53 before being sold to Liverpool in January 1953 for a fee of £12,000. Ώ] Smyth made his debut for his new club against the side he just departed, Stoke just days later. He spent two seasons at Anfield scoring 20 goals in 44 appearances. Ώ]


Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Carrick Rangers FC

Founded: 1939
Names: Carrick Rangers FC
Ground History: Taylors Avenue, Carrickfergus
Main Colours: Amber and Black
Club Website: http://www.carrickrangers.co.uk/

Managerial History: (work in progress)
Jim Brown, Jimmy Hill (Nov '88-Feb '91), Robert Barr ('91-), Kenny Shiels (Feb '92-Dec '94), Colin Crawford (Dec '94-), Graham McConnell(-Apr '06), Stephen Small (Apr '06-date)

League History:
Northern Amateur League, Irish League B Division, Irish League 1983/84-1994/95, First Division 1995/96-2007/08, IFA Championship 2008/09-date.

Club Honours:
(Senior)
Irish League (I) best season 8th (1988/89)
Irish Cup Winners (1) 1975/76, Runners-Up (2) 1983/84, 1994/95
Co. Antrim Shield Winners (1) 1992/93
Soccer Sixes Winners (1) 1991
(Intermediate)
Intermediate Cup Winners (2) 1975/76, 1976/77
Steel & Sons Cup Winners (2) 1961/62, 1967/68, Runners-Up (2) 1955/56, 2008/09
Intermediate League Cup Winners (1) 2003/04

European History:
Cup Winners' Cup 1976/77 (Second Round)

Notable Players: (work in progress)
Gary Blackledge
Eric Bowyer
Paul Kee
Davy Larmour
Jimmy Hill
Michael Hughes
Sammy Hughes
John McClelland
Alan Mannus (l)
William Murphy
Tom Sloan


Contents

Smyth was born in Belfast in 1925 Ώ] and played for local clubs Distillery, Linfield and Dundela in the Irish League before being signed by English Football League side Wolverhampton Wanderers in July 1947 for a fee of £1,100. Ώ] Despite taking Wolves to third place in the 1946–47 season manager Ted Vizard was replaced by his assistant Stan Cullis in June 1948. The following year Cullis led Wolves to the FA Cup final against Leicester City, Jesse Pye scoring two goals in the first half and Smyth netting another in the 68th minute. Ώ] Smyth had scored both Wolves goals in the two semi-final games against Manchester Utd. The following season Wolves finished in 2nd place in the First Division. He had scored 43 goals in 116 cup and league appearances for Wolves. Ώ]

In September 1951 Stoke City paid a club record fee of £25,000 to Wolves for Smyth in a bid to help them avoid relegation after an awful start to the 1951–52 season. Ώ] Smyth had the desired impact at the Victoria Ground as he scored 12 vital goals as Stoke escaped the drop by three points. Ώ] He scored five goals in 14 matches in 1952–53 before being sold to Liverpool in January 1953 for a fee of £12,000. Ώ] Smyth made his debut for his new club against the side he just departed, Stoke just days later. He spent two seasons at Anfield scoring 20 goals in 44 appearances. Ώ]


Santa Clarita uses creative mascot to engage youth and instill city knowledge and pride

The city of Santa Clarita won the 2020 Helen Putnam Ruth Vreeland Award for Engaging Youth in City Government. For more information about the award program, visit www.helenputnam.org.

For many years, residents living in the communities of Canyon Country, Saugus, Valencia, and Newhall fought for incorporation because they wanted local control. They wanted to form the city of Santa Clarita so local officials would be more accessible and better able to meet the needs of residents through self-governance and public responsiveness. In 1987, the dream became a reality, and covering 39 square miles, the city of Santa Clarita became the largest area to ever incorporate in California.

Today, Santa Clarita is the third largest city in Los Angeles County and is home to 225,000 residents. A new generation is growing up and enjoying the high-quality of life that their grandparents fought to make a reality.

In 2017, as Santa Clarita celebrated 30 years of cityhood, city officials wanted to ensure they were instilling the same knowledge, pride, and value of local governance in the younger generation.

Open house celebrations at city hall, documentary-style videos, and articles about what it took to become a city appealed to adult residents. At the same time, a small, stuffed horse named Sammy Clarita quickly became the city’s unofficial mascot and messenger to engage the city’s younger residents.

Santa Clarita is known for its rich Western film history and beautiful open spaces featuring multi-use trails, so a horse mascot was the perfect fit. The “I Found Sammy Clarita” campaign was inspired by the popular Pokemon Go phenomenon. By combining the augmented reality video game with a real-life scavenger hunt, the toy horse shared the message of what makes Santa Clarita great.

City staff placed Sammy at various locations throughout the city as a means of introducing younger residents to city projects, programs, initiatives, and events. Sammy Clarita visited the Veteran’s Historical Plaza and the City Sports Complex, libraries, parks, the Business Incubator, and city trails, to name a few. Staff would then post photos of Sammy at these locations on Instagram and share why he was there. They created a scavenger hunt and the person who found Sammy got to keep him, as a permanent reminder of what makes Santa Clarita such an amazing city.

“When we launched our city’s 30th anniversary celebration, we wanted to engage residents of all ages,” said Santa Clarita Council Member Cameron Smyth. “Sammy Clarita, and the scavenger hunt to find him, captured the hearts and minds of families. It gave them a fun, positive activity to do together while allowing the city to share information about the history of the community and current projects and services we provide to our residents.”

After a positive response in 2017, Sammy Clarita got a new outfit in 2018 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival. Donning a red tee and brown bandana, Sammy spent time promoting the event, telling the story of the city’s Wild West past, and shared in the excitement of the festival with patrons.

“It was exciting to see how fast the community embraced Sammy Clarita,” said Communications Manager Carrie Lujan. “One afternoon, I placed a Sammy next to flyers at City Hall, and within 10 minutes of posting on Instagram, a mom and her 5-year-old daughter came sprinting into the building, erupting into squeals of joy to find their own Sammy.”

In 2019, building on Sammy Clarita’s popularity, a children’s book titled “Meet Sammy Clarita” was released to all three public library branches, and a copy was gifted to each third-grade classroom in the city. The book introduces Santa Clarita to young readers through the loveable character. The book describes the process of incorporation, what being a city means for residents, and highlights city events in a fun, engaging way complete with custom, hand-drawn illustrations.

“I love that Sammy Clarita gets to promote causes that are important to our city, like recycling or various jobs that are available through our city,” said fourth-grade teacher Angelica Huato-Nelson. “As a teacher, having him in my classroom is fun because it’s like having a little piece of our city at children’s fingertips.”

To go along with his book, a new batch of Sammy Clarita stuffed horses were purchased sporting Santa Clarita Public Library vests and wire-rim glasses. Photos of the new Sammys were posted on social media, and library patrons had the opportunity to find their very own librarian Sammy Clarita.

Other local organizations also embraced the new city mascot. Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital requested their own special batch of Sammy Claritas to gift all of their Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) graduates.

“Each year, we hold a special reunion celebration for our NICU graduates,” said Director of Maternal and Child Health Services at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital Lori Matzner. “Each graduate gets to take home a special goodie bag. After seeing Sammy Clarita at the Cowboy Festival, we knew he would be the perfect addition to the celebration and a reminder to graduates that their city is supporting and cheering them on!”

Within the first three months of the “I Found Sammy Clarita” campaign, the city’s Instagram account saw a 23% increase in followers and after three years the increase was more than 250%. More than 2,600 Sammy Claritas were discovered throughout the city, serving as tangible reminders that the city works on behalf of residents of all ages.

The annual budget for Sammy Clarita plushes is $2,441.86 for 500, and the production of the books (all writing and design were done in-house) costs $1,952.39 for 525 copies.

The “I Found Sammy Clarita” campaign is a successful way to introduce the next generation of residents to their local government and teach them the importance of being an engaged resident. This fun and engaging initiative continues to be a great way to cultivate community pride and celebrate the city’s achievements.


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