Main Image: Jason Castagna (left) and Oleg Markov of Richmond train at Metricon Stadium ahead of The Gabba Grand Final with Sherrin in hand (Michael Willson/AFL Photos).
This footy season has been like no other, with entire teams being forced to relocate to keep the competition alive.
At the start of the season the very idea of any city other than Melbourne playing host to a Grand Final would have been laughable, but this Saturday evening will see Richmond and Geelong battle it out at The Gabba in Brisbane.
It’s the first time that the final will be played under lights and ironically, it will be the first all Victorian grand final since 2011, which is also when Geelong last hoisted the silverware.
And although the Lions couldn’t quite make it through to the season decider, there will still be a bit of Brisbane on show in the big game.
Andrew Luke is the Technical Director at Packer Leather and told 96five that the company were excited to see their product on display in the Brisbane Grand Final.
“The 110 people who work here are really buzzing to see the final in our own backyard. Sherrin have also been very supportive of the fact that the final is up here this year, and are really happy we get to see those Grand Final balls being used on our own turf.”
Unlike both rugby codes who moved to using synthetic balls long ago, the AFL still utilises a leather ball with the iconic Sherrin footy staying true to its heritage.
“It’s a real credit to the AFL for keeping that history alive and retaining leather in the ball – the AFL is now only one of two codes in the world that still use a leather ball.”
While the source and manufacturing process is a tightly guarded secret, Andrew said that Packer Leather go to great lengths to ensure only a premium product is delivered to Sherrin.
“We have a very tight tolerance on our sourcing requirements for the cattle hides that we use in this product. We only source from one abattoir and we only buy during the cooler months of the year to ensure that the selection of those hides is at a premium for Sherrin all year round.”
And the footys aren’t the only thing that have a connection to the Brisbane manufacturer, with many of the player’s boots beginning their life in the Narangba factory.
“All the brands that make high specification football boots use our leather, these are Asics, Nike, Adidas and Mizuno. Most of the players in the grand final will be running around in boots that contain our leather.”
Footy aside, the company has also supplied to such iconic Australian brands as Akubra and R.M.Williams, and worked for many years with Kookaburra to develop the pink cricket ball which has enabled Test matches to embrace a day-night format.
To celebrate the Grand Final at The Gabba, Packer Leather and 96five have been giving away official Sherrin AFL Game Balls valued at $200. Listen to the Brissy Brekky with Ken & Nicky or The Big Fun Radio Show with Steve for your chance to win.