Surely I am not the only person who has noticed that the cheer squad leaders for the AFL teams are invariably John Candy lookalikes. And I’m including the women, though usually it is a male who has managed to somehow squeeze his fleecy check shirt under an enormous club guernsey which proudly displays on its back the number of a player half his weight. These diligent souls who stay up half the night cutting crepe paper into banners with banal slogans and then strut around in the forward pocket ordering their minions about, often displaying a slice of huge crack as the banner is raised, are as unique to the game as our goal umpires.  But why are they all so enormous? They must sample their cholesterol to see how much blood is in it.  And by the way, I’m not fattist, as my own figure runs more to Friar Tuck than Robin Hood, but I am genuinely interested in answers.  

Here I feel is a question to tease the minds of our most brilliant scientists, why is it universally so? Is it genetic?  Is the gene that makes one an avid fan who likes to cut and stick, the same gene that boosts fat? If the curly-haired guy from Lost had been born in Australia is it inevitable he’d now be wearing a Richmond number 9 jumper and struggling over the spelling of “special” on a giant paper banner.   Or is it that retiring crew chiefs appoint in their place those who remind them of themselves?  A succession of large people who know that others their size will never be distracted by love, intellect or the search for fame, who understand that size is directly proportional to selfless dedication?  

On the other hand it could be environmental. 

Does Melbourne’s cold weather encourage the eating of doughnuts and pies as cheer squads slave through the night working on slogans like “you’re (sic) run will end coz we won’t bend”.  

I must admit I’ve not recently had a chance to check whether the Gold Coast or Giants squads mirror the endomorphism of their Victorian counterparts but years ago when calling the footy I was struck that even the WA and SA teams boasted crew chiefs who were candidates for Biggest Loser.  It was like it was part of the job requirement. 

Whatever the answer, I hope it doesn’t change. In this day of political correctness even in the food we consume, and of waif like bodies adorning every public forum, it is good to know that at least once a week in a forward pocket somewhere, big people are being given a chance to shine and prove that size does matter.


  1. Thinking back to the cheer squads of the 70s in their duffle coats there never seemed to be too many overly large people. Maybe it would help if these supporters actually got out on a ground and played a bit of sport rather than watching the game and living on a diet of pies and other crap. Then again it wouldn’t be right to be seen eating salad rolls at the footy would it. Go Hawks

  2. hahaha so true.. I’m a member of a cheer squad and carry a bit of extra padding and I always wonder if the criteria for being a member of the cheer squad is being super sized…. *breaks into song*… “Who ate all the pies, who ate all the pies? You fat bastard, you fat bastard, you ate all the pies!”

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