Wagin Football Club will don a first-of-its-kind high-tech woollen guernsey, a fitting Australian-first for a town with a proud wool history. Pictured are Wagin Football Club players Paul South, James Campbell, Mark Allington and Jake Putland.
It is home to a sky-high ram statue and WA’s biggest celebration of sheep.
And now the State’s wool-producing heartland of Wagin, 220km south-east of Perth, boasts an Australian-first design of football guernseys made from a high-tech blend of wool and synthetic fibres.
The innovative new guernseys are a far cry from the heavy, itchy woollen football uniforms of the past.
Wagin Football Club backman Mark Allington said it was fitting the club was the first in the country to wear the new guernseys, given many of its players were sheep farmers. “It’s fitting the wool has come to our team, a lot of us are wool producers so it’s good to see the end product,” he said. “They are a lot softer and lighter than the jumpers worn in the 80s, and the synthetic ones we had before.”
Allington said the partnership with the nation’s peak wool body, Australian Wool Innovation, came about after he and fellow Icon Agriculture consultant Andrew Ritchie attended an industry meeting in Sydney.
After an AWI presentation about the Fibre of Football campaign – aimed at celebrating the rich heritage connecting the wool industry and Australian Rules, the pair asked whether their local football club could have a set of jumpers.
AWI and Wagin Football Club jointly funded the jumpers, which were made at JS Sports in South Australia.
Among the local farmers involved with the Wagin Football Club is new coach Paul Duffield — a former Fremantle Docker who played 171 games over 12 seasons in the AFL.
Duffield grew up in Darkan and spent his junior years playing football for the former West Arthur team before moving to Perth. He returned to the farm three years ago.
“For a lot of people in this area, producing wool is what we do,” he said.
“To see our product come back to the club as something everyone is passionate about — football — is fantastic.
“I think it is also alluding to how superior wool is as a product.
“We are finding more out about this as we go.”
AWI chief executive Stuart McCullough said the polyesterwool blend had proved to be lightweight and comfortable.
“Wagin is the first WA country footy team to wear these lighter, intimate blend jumpers,” he said.
“The next step is to get some meaningful feedback from the players about how the fabric performs and then to potentially offer it to other clubs nationally.”
A slightly heavier blend of fabric has also been trialled at country football teams in Victoria, with a polyester exterior and woollen interior.
It’s fitting the wool has come to our team, a lot of us are wool producers so it’s good to see the end product. Mark Allington
Wagin Football Club players Paul South, James Campbell, Mark Allington and Jake Putland in their new jumpers.