Cock of the Walk: exclusive look inside Sir Big Spur's roost - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

Cock of the Walk: exclusive look inside Sir Big Spur's roost

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Sir Big Spur IV Sir Big Spur IV
AIKEN, SC (WIS) -

Ron Albertelli is no spring chicken, but for more than 15 years he's been the crew behind the crow.  But this is a love story.

Sir Big Spur IV is the University of South Carolina's unofficial mascot.

"He is something very unique in the country," Albertelli says. "He's a one-of-a-kind mascot."

You'll find him in Aiken along with 23 other family members.

Albertelli oversees it all, painstakingly caring for and training the bird for his role at athletic events.

"We have the Georgia Bulldog out for him to learn how to hate," says Albertelli, holding up one of several stuffed mascots from SEC schools.

On game day, Albertelli packs up the chicken, cage, remote control cart, Volkswagen and 24- foot trailer for trips to Columbia. He pays for all of it.

You would assume he started all this because he's a huge Gamecock fan. But, as you might've noticed by his accent, "He ain't from around these parts."

No, it's not for the love of the game. He does it for the love of Mary Snelling.
    
"I knew that she was an avid Gamecock fan, she went to the university. I'm a damn Yankee who came south and never went home," Albertelli says. "I'm a tinkerer. I like to do things with my hands."

So 28 years ago, when Snelling refused to say yes to Albertelli's first-date wedding proposal,
Albertelli started working.

In the late 90's,when Snelling received a pet Gamecock as a gift, they started taking it to baseball games.  Football, and Albertelli's remote control rooster rover, would come later.

"Not many transplanted northerners would've adopted the University of South Carolina like Ron did," says Snelling.

Not many would spend their free time building sanctuaries for birds, or even their wives.

"About 10 years ago he converted this from a hay loft," Snelling says. "Ron's very talented." .

And very persistent. In 2010, Snelling finally said "yes" to his proposal.

"I don't buy anything on the first look!" says Snelling.

"Married in the morning and made it to the baseball game that afternoon with the bird," says Albertelli.

"It's been at times frustrating, and expensive to a certain degree," he says. "All for the wife. Without a doubt."

So the next time you see Sir Big Spur on ESPN, remember the labor of love that got him there.

Now that they're finally married the Albertellis are looking to trade farm life for lake living. They're trying to talk USC into taking Sir Big Spur on officially so that someone else can help the tradition carry on.

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