WON­DER-WOOL

Narrogin Observer - - Front Page - Cally Dupe

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

Pic­ture: Ian Munro

Pic­ture: Ian Munro

Wa­gin Foot­ball Club play­ers Paul South, James Camp­bell, Mark Alling­ton and Jake Put­land in their new jumpers.

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