Bucketheads may be missing from stands
The Manawatu Bucketheads are in danger of becoming extinct.
At the Turbos' first home game against Auckland on Sunday, none of the adult variety were present.
There were only a few children wearing buckets instead of the usual noisy throng down in Cruden's Corner.
Phil Day was the Bucketheads leader for the past two years, but has retired, saying he doesn't want to wake up one morning and still be doing it when he is 40.
"I told them last year," he said. "I spoke to a few of the boys that I'm going to give it away."
Day hoped someone else would take it on, but said the responsibility now lay with "the people that turn up and support the Turbos".
There have been a couple of people who may take the top job, Day said, but they were yet to make themselves known.
Things will be a lot quieter if they go the way of the moa.
Their banter was lacking in Sunday's game. The designated bucket zone was empty.
Over the years they have received negative publicity through bad behaviour, although sometimes they weren't the guilty ones.
The buckets have become iconic Manawatu supporters, and have taken off with supporters of other sports.
A lull in the Bucketheads may be the cooling-off period Manawatu Rugby Union chief executive John Knowles was after.
"To be fair we've played that down," he said. "It was originally a student thing and then it got a bit hijacked by others that weren't part of the university at all."
Last year there was some negative feedback about their behaviour and a bus that went to the Manawatu Ranfurly Shield challenge in New Plymouth was damaged, which turned the Manawatu union off a bit.
"We decided as a union we needed to play that back a bit."
One of the other factors is that last year the union ran a student membership.
This year the union is doing it again but it is not allowed to advertise sport and alcohol together so is more limited as to what it can promote.
Even though the Bucketheads have been an autonomous outfit, Knowles said the union may try to resurrect them next year. But he didn't doubt they would come back under their own steam.
The Bucketheads were founded in 2006 by Dominic Moleta, who wore a green bucket to the Turbos' opening game and it didn't take long for others to join him.