In an unprecedented move on the eve of the AFL season, Collingwood Cheer Squad has had its banner making role removed as part of a club response to internal politics.
Club officials told squad members on Tuesday, February 18, that they would take over banner making and transport the run-through, flags and floggers to and from games.
These roles have been the cornerstone of cheer squads since they emerged in the 1960s and 1970s. Squad members were also told their reserved seats would be rotated.
A meeting attendee says the club was reacting to some who bickered and complained about seating. Something had to give but the reaction was over the top: “It’s like kindergarten. We will be like puppets.”
The biggest kick in the guts was losing banner making, which cheer squad members from all clubs treasure and use as a social occasion: “They’ve taken that away from us.”
AFLFA president Brian Clarke says some reform might have been needed if there were internal problems, but losing banner making strikes at the heart out of a cheer squad.
“That’s one of the reasons they get out of bed in the morning,” he said. “Cheer squads spend up to eight hours every week during the footy season making run-throughs.
“We’d also like to know how Collingwood is going to get other volunteers to do this laborious task, that until now all cheer squads have done voluntarily. And who is going to hold the banner up on match day? This is no easy task and requires experience.”
The move is not the first controversy for the Magpies’ cheer squad. In 2008 the cub sacked all members and made them reapply for their positions.
“Restricting membership to those who can afford to pay for reserved seats does not necessarily attract people wanting to help out and join in the chanting,” Mr Clarke says.
The AFLFA provides a voice for AFL fans across Australia on issues affecting them such as ticketing, rules, game times, commercialisation and memberships. AFLFA membership is free and anyone can join at www.aflfans.org.au.