Wagin’s supporters dyed in the wool

Cally DupeThe West Australian
AWI woolgrower services manager Graham Curry, ICON Agriculture Andrew Ritchie, Wagin Football Club coach Paul Duffield, and Wagin Woolorama Merino steward Peter Foley.
Camera IconAWI woolgrower services manager Graham Curry, ICON Agriculture Andrew Ritchie, Wagin Football Club coach Paul Duffield, and Wagin Woolorama Merino steward Peter Foley. Credit: Countryman, Cally Dupe

The Wagin Football Club could be in for a sporting resurgence with new wool guernseys and the coaching skills of a former Fremantle Docker.

The Upper Great Southern Football League team will become the first country football team in Australia to don the wool-synthetic blend jumpers this playing season.

At the helm of the club is new coach and former Dockers defender Paul Duffield, who left the big smoke three years ago to return to his farming roots.

The Darkan wool producer said he was elated Australian Wool Innovation had seen potential in an idea spruiked by two local agronomists.

“For a lot of people in this area, producing wool is what we do,” Duffield 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 funded the guernseys, made from a blend of wool and synthetic fibres, which are expected to arrive in Wagin in coming weeks.

The collaboration came about after Icon Agriculture consultants Andrew Ritchie and Mark Allington attended an AWI network 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.

“We were in the right place, at the right time and asked the right cheeky question,” Mr Ritchie said.

“There certainly is an element of paving the way, for other football jumpers to be made of wool as they were back in the day.

“Back then, it was very broad wool and when it got wet, they weighed a ton and became saggy.”

Previously, the campaign had involved 100 per cent Australian Merino wool football jumpers, scarves, beanies, gloves and knitting kits, which were sold through AFL club stores and websites.

It also involved football stars including Bernie Vince, Tom Hawkins, Nat Fyfe and Luke Breust sharing their stories of how growing up in the country helped make them who they are today.

Duffield said wool guernseys were a fitting outfit for players representing a town, which hosts WA’s biggest celebration of wool — Wagin Woolorama.

Duffield grew up in Darkan and spent his junior years playing football for the former West Arthur team before moving to Perth.

“I just think if you are lucky enough to have a good football club in your area, it is such an advantage for your community,” he said.

“I think Wagin has struggled a little bit the last couple of years, so I am looking forward to being involved and improving the competitiveness across the board.”

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