World’s Strongest Man and the Crunch Bunch or ‘Are Strongmen Athletes?’

Nice muscles, what can you do with them? A common question and also the title for a series of YouTube challenges well worth watching.

The underlying point remains however. Are men and women of muscle athletes? Can they challenge others athletically or are they simply lumbering oafs? While anyone who watches World Strongest Man will testify to the athletic abilities of these men, the common man or woman may be dubious. Imagine then the wonder of 1988 when a rag tag bunch of strongmen donned American football uniforms and set off against the Glasgow Diamonds. The ‘Crunch Bunch’ as they were termed compromised some of the world’s strongest men, and undoubtedly the scariest defensive line in recent memory. This is their story.

Who were the Crunch Bunch?

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A collection of the World’s strongest men that’s who. Organised in part by David Webster, who discusses the game in detail in the now rare Sons of Samson book, the Crunch Bunch pictured above comprised of the following Goliaths: Peter Tregloan, Jamie Reeves, Mark Higgins, Tjalling van den Bosch, Jon Pall Sigmarsson, Ab Wolders; and Iain Murray, Bill Kazmaier, Hjalti Arnason, Basil Francis, Tom Hawk. In terms of the titles, the Glasgow Diamonds were facing several World’s Strongest men, Britain’s strongest man, Scotland’s Strongest man, a Mr Universe,a British Powerlifting Champion and Hollands Strongest Man. One word…. Yikes!

Named after the famed NFL ‘Crunch Bunch’ which operated during the early 1980s for the New York Giants, this new iteration undoubtedly packed a punch.

Who were the Glasgow DiamondBacks?

The Diamonds were a Glasgow based Scottish Football team. That is to say, they were an American Football team based in Glasgow with possibly my favourite rap song of all time. Before we get into the quality of the team, this song needs to addressed

All jokes aside, in the context of 1980s music, this is actually a good song in my humble opinion. In fact, the song became so popular that CBS aired it during their 1987 Superbowl broadcast. So there!

In any case the Diamonds, who lived in the shadow of their rivals the Glasgow Lions, were actually a rather successful side. Only formed in 1985 after splitting away from the Lions, the Diamonds had risen quite quickly in terms of footballing stature. By the time they met the ‘Crunch Bunch’ the Diamonds had notched up eight straight victories in the Glasgow football league. Furthermore that season would see them win the Budweiser League Premier Division Scottish Conference so they were no pushovers.

The Game Itself 

Somewhat annoyingly, it has proven incredibly difficult to get a match report of the game. From memory, I believe David Webster noted that the Diamonds won the game despite being somewhat overawed by the Bunch’s athleticism. If anyone can fill in the gaps then please do!

In any case, we do have a brief snippet of what happened thanks to Samson Power and indeed this is the match report that tends to float about online:

This odd convention of the world’s strongest men happened in Glasgow in 1988 when the Crunch Bunch took on the Glasgow Diamonds playing American-style football. The Diamonds figured that the strongmen where too big and slow. To their surprise, the strongmen were not. The Crunch Bunch did bend the rules but not all of them were familiar with the rules of football because they came from all over Europe. Mr. Universe Basil Francis burned the corner backs all day long on offense, including a 50 yard touchdown. Hjalti Arnason converted the two points to put them in the lead. Mark Higgins who was six foot nine inches tall intercepted many passes. Ab Wolders just plugged up the holes on defense, making the Diamonds running backs bounce off him. Once when Bill Kazmaier was tackled by a much smaller opponent, Kaz picked him up overhead and bodyslammed him again and again. On offense, Kaz routinely crashed threw the Diamond’s line like it was a paper bag. Jaime Reeves picked up the Diamond’s fullback and ran with him and the ball all the way to the end zone for a Crunch Bunch touchdown.

Despite being relative novices to the sport, it appears that the ‘Crunch Bunch’ performed quite well in all actuality. What I want to know however is why this experiment has never been repeated!

Imagine what a team comprised of Eddie Hall, Brian Shaw et al. could achieve. At the very least it’d be worth the ticket price!

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