After three tough seasons, 2014 could be the make or break year for Taranaki's grass roots rugby supporters group known as the Amber Army.
Founded in 2011 by Taranaki Daily News photographer Andy Jackson, the chanting group quickly became a noisy mainstay of the northeastern corner of Yarrow Stadium during the NPC season.
Similar in aspirations to the famous English cricket supporters group the Barmy Army and with more stringent membership expectations than Manawatu's bogan-like Bucketheads, numbers peaked at around 100 in 2012. But last year participation slumped with Jackson citing work commitments that put him on the sideline photographing the matches rather than leading his chanting group from the terraces as the reason.
"It was a lesson in leadership for me and I'll admit I dropped the ball. I'll be there as much as I can this year and I have faith supporters will come back and the army will be a real force again," he said.
The group does not require registration or compel those who do associate with it to join them at Taranaki's matches. As such, it is impossible to know just how many will turn up for each match, which Jackson concedes to be nerve-racking. With much of their support involving repetitive and often humorous chanting, a large number of people is best to ensure their voices can be heard around the stadium.
Jackson said 100 people plus their hangers-on would be ideal.
All chants are family-friendly and will be available on a song sheet for whoever wants to join in.
- Taranaki Daily News
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