Grand Final Nirvana – Celebrity Skin

With Grand Final week looming large, ready yourself for the celebrity footy supporter to come out of hibernation. You know the type. Those that are prominently positioned at one of the front tables at the Grand Final breakfast; proudly garbed-out in their “never soiled by dripping sauce from a Four ‘N’ Twenty” scarf – still furrowed with the creases from the merchandise van’s plastic bag folds.

Don’t get me wrong – a dash of celebrity-skin adds to the colour and oomph of Grand Final week; an imperative for those wacky little magazine pieces by Neil Kearney, Mark Howard and the like. Not to mention the gratuitous crowd-shot of post-goal celebrations by the celebrity and their hangers-on. But are they real footy supporters? Predominantly, no.

Alas, it hasn’t always been this way. Once was a time when the celebrity was a true footy supporter and was happy to mix it in the outer with run-of-the-mill supporters. I regularly wandered by Stephen Cummings on the terraces; passing like strangers on the train. Perhaps belting out the theme song (on the rare occasion) was just what he needed to loosen his vocal chords for the coming night’s gig. And a Saturday night in front of the box would always behold some good-humoured banter between Darryl Somers (Geelong) and John Blackman (Fitzroy), accompanied by Molly Meldrum spruiking on behalf of his beloved Saints. Ernie Sigley (Footscray) was another of that era that was a passionate supporter. Granted, I am not tossing up world leaders, Academy Award winners or even those on the beautiful people A-List, but the world was a simpler place back then.

This was, of course, prior to the days of the Corporate Box, a wonderful revenue raiser for AFL Inc. and others. The Corporate Box has been a boon for the celebrity supporter; providing that much needed distance from the general public, an ideal environment for schmoozing, and ensuring that the TV cameras have clear vision. The idea of Susan Sarandon or Rob Lowe as Collingwood supporters or Condoleezza Rice as an Adelaide fan would be music to the collective ears of the AFL’s international expansionists, but certainly not what you would call hard-core support.

Then there are the celebrity supporters who provide their clubs a special set of skills or influence. Or putting a finer point on it, access to cash. Think here of Joe Gutnick, Jeff Kennett, Eddie McGuire, Lindsay Fox, John Elliott, Richard Pratt, Geoffrey Eddleston, Allan Scott. The list goes on. In the main, this type is perhaps better described as “high profile” or “influential”, rather than celebrity. However, most of them tend to use this influence combined with the platform offered by their AFL club to attempt to position themselves as celebrities in a sense – the old “famous by association” principle. Even within this group, there appears to be some who are more hard-core footy lovers than others.

And what could possibly be better for a politician than footage of them kissing a baby? Perhaps establishing their grass-roots cred at a game of footy; all suited-up, casually chatting away with Mike Fitzpatrick or Andrew Demetriou – just like we all do. Essendon in particular seem to have had more than their fair share: Andrew Peacock, John Hewson, Peter Costello and (from the other side of the fence) Lindsay Tanner come to mind without turning the clock back too far.

And how about the celebrity (of sorts) that can potentially pull off a bit of Devine Intervention? Perhaps through their access to higher places (even beyond Demetriou Himself), they may be able to call upon some additional assistance deep into the final quarter of a tight game. Surely the support of the Dalai Lama (Sydney), Father Bob Maguire (Collingwood) or Cardinal George Pell (Richmond) would be quite handy in a cliff-hanger.

Here’s another thought. It has often been said that owners look like their dogs or vice versa perhaps. On closer inspection, I believe that this well researched hypothesis can be extended to footy clubs and their celebrity supporters. Hard-working, no frills tennis player Wayne Arthurs is a North Melbourne supporter – that’s one vote for the extension of the dog and owner hypothesis. The much-maligned Alexander Downer is an Adelaide fan – tick. Shane Warne is a StKilda supporter – another tick. Rob Sitch sits very comfortably with the smarmy Melbourne supporting type. And if any icing was required for this very well baked cake, Chopper Reed ….. yes, you guessed it, Collingwood.

Have you ever queued for an eternity outside the latest überchic bar whilst the celebs saunter up to the front and stroll straight in?  No? Well, I have. And it’s time for us to fight back I say. With the increasing scarcity of Grand Final tickets available to the average punter, there should be no better time to rise up. I am suggesting every person of public profile is required to take a test before being granted access to the MCG on the big day; just to sort out your hard-core from your fly-by-night celebrity supporter. I’m thinking here of questions like, “Explain in 25 words or less when and why you would yell out ‘Put him on the angle’.” Or perhaps, “What is a white maggot, and when would you expect it not to be white?”

Whilst I suspect that there will be the customary plethora of celebrity supporters on exhibition in the coming weeks, fortunately we won’t have to endure a footy scarf clad performance from the Australian Idol top 10 this year. In their place – Geelong supporting Australia’s Got Talent father and son duo. Great! Personally, I would prefer to see Watermelon Man shoving his scone through a Sherrin.

Adelaide:  Little Lleyton
Brisbane:  Greg Norman
Carlton: John Elliott
Collingwood: Peter Brock
Essendon: Andrew Peacock
Fitzroy: Bert Newton
Fremantle: Rove McManus
Geelong: Darryl Somers
Hawthorn: Pat Cash
Melbourne: Joe Gutnick
North Melbourne: Ricky Ponting
Port Adelaide: Mike Rann
Richmond: Mick Molloy
StKilda: Ian Molly Meldrum
Sydney: David Williamson
West Coast: Justin Langer
Western Bulldogs:  Julia Gillard

That is all

About Arma

Much-maligned footy banterer


  1. Arma

    For the Blues, you could add Olivia Newton-John.

  2. Arma. Great piece as usual. Again you put a well constructed article regarding the ever increasing and prevading presence of the faux supporters

    I didnt know Livie was bluebagger. That something to ponder when the renewel come in the post.

  3. Like the Blues claim to fame ONJ is fairly chronologically challenged (out dated) these days.

    Cats have Barry Crocker. Now there’s an icon.

  4. Happy Hammond (dec) in a crazy coat happily leading (frolicking) the Geelong players out for the 1963 GF.

  5. I’m pleased that Tim Winton supports Freo, as well as Luc Longley – I once was able to sit in his corporate box at Subi, when he’d lent it to my Melbourne supporting brother for a Freo-Demons game.

    Once heard of former Premier Alan Carpenter shouting some drinks at a Melbourne Pub after a Dockers win in 2006.

  6. Craig Parry, battler, is a Doggy.
    Geoff Ogilvie, sublime striker, a Saint.

  7. Rob Clarkson says

    The Age give Nick Cave a six-page biographical piece every 12 months and not once have I seen it reported who he barracks for.

    Honestly, I always skim the article to see if he’s finally been asked.

  8. Rob

    I think he barracks for Wang Rovers.

  9. Thanks for all the feedback team.

    Just a quick one on Nick Cave (former Caulfield Grammarian), AF did suggest that he saw him in a StKilda scarf ……

    ….. however, he did think it was Tim Rogers initially ………. so may not be a totally reliable source.

    That is all

  10. #7 – I still want to know what he’s ever done!

  11. Rob Clarkson says

    Ah, thanks John, an answer at last.

    Incidentally, do you know why John Lennon always wanted to play in a key position down the spine?

    Because (excuse me as I draw breath) he hated Wings.

  12. Arma,
    Malcom Fraser would sit in the same area of the members stand at the western oval whenever his Blues came to play the Doggies throughout the seventies & eighties, he always absorbed the comments from the terrace below with grace, probably made easy by the fact that the Dogs didn’t beat them many times in that period.

  13. I’ve heard tell David Hicks is a Crows man.

  14. Ugly Dave Gray was a Kangaroos man.

  15. Jesus barracks for Geelong. When he said “blessed are the cheese makers” he was referring to the manufacturers of all dairy products, many of whom live in Victoria’s western districts just beyond Corio Bay.

  16. But God barracks for Carlton. He told me.

  17. Dips, what a friend we have in cheeses.

  18. David Downer says

    Incisive again Arma.

    Some celebrity, and “alleged celebrity” musings that come to mind are…

    – John Farnham a Roos fan – although for many years the Coodabeens, via “Tony’s Talkback”, took sufficient piss out of his knowledge (lack thereof) of the team’s fortunes

    – The celebrity models who breeze in for a photo op in club jumper. Elle MacPherson did so at Moorabbin in the early 90’s – I think David Grant was the lucky player alongside. I recall Miranda Kerr did so at Collingwood this year? – and despite this, would lose no fans.

    – Elton John is a Sainter – link via Molly? …er er er. Along the music/Saints theme, Ross Wilson of Daddy Cool is also a Saint. When U2 arrive here in December I’m happy for Bono to don a “freshly unwrapped” St Kilda scarf when cranking “The Saints are Coming”.

    – The insincere politicians (oxymoron alert) are particularly embarrassing. More recently, Tony Abbott trying to run and bounce in the rooms at Windy Hill – ball of course bounces away. Kevin Rudd in Lions scarf, can you imagine Gillard’s contempt sitting next to him in week 2 of the finals last year? – I guess she’s had many laughs over him since. Paul Keating in his (someone else’s) Collingwood scarf. When you walk in the front door at Chez Keating I doubt his Pies scarf is draped over the jacket hook.

    – The current Victorian government and opposition seem dominated by Cats and Pies …hmm, much like the Almanac. Cue it, cue it, here it comes …LOL

    – Does Delta Goodrem get to many Swannies games now?

    – Kochie’s Port Adelaide?

    – More disturbing is the reverse situation – supporters who become celebrities. Like J.Corfe. To a much, much lesser extent, “Barb from Carlton”.

    – Peter Flynn is a Cats supporter


  19. Impressive work DD,

    Thanks for a potential Arma Disquisition, “AFL supporters who become ‘celebrities'”.
    I think that piece could also include Kenny Williams, the white haired bloke who is positioned behind the goals at the SCG and is in the rooms for the song, etc.

    PS: Don’t see Delta a lot these days …… has pulled on the boots for a charity game at one stage, I think.

    Also enjoyed your tautology alert. Tony Abbott’s footy bouncing was right up there with Little Johnny Howard’s bowling.

    As Muzz (#12) points out there are pollies who are your genuine supporters who actually get along to the games and those for whom the link with the code is merely opportunistic.

    My favourite post in response, goes to Crio (#6) who added to the insurmountable case of the AFL’s very own “dog and owner” hypothesis.

    That is all

  20. Alan Bond!

  21. Bondy probably can’t remember who he barracks for.

  22. David Downer says

    From today’s Age… subject – Molly

    He lunched with Bruce Springsteen in Toronto last week and claims he is “absolutely” behind the Saints. Madonna also possesses a St Kilda jumper courtesy of Meldrum, and Elton John is on board. “Elton is aware of it now and we presented him with an honorary membership many years ago,” he said.

    Even Michael Jackson got a guernsey before his untimely demise. “I gave one to Michael Jackson so maybe he can talk to the saints up in heaven,” Meldrum said.

  23. Beautiful work DD. This is exactly what I was expecting this week.

    Good to know that you and your celebrity mates are right on the Saints this week.

    That is all

  24. Ugly Dave Gray was a Kangaroos man.

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