Sherrin was founded in 1880 by Thomas William Sherrin (the T.W Sherrin that is still present on the ball today). Thomas grew up as one of 9 children in a close family. He did not follow his father into carpentry, but decided to become a saddler, repairing and manufacturing horse saddles and other leather equipment. Tom got involved in a small football club called Britannia FC, and the Rugby balls they were using were sent to Tom to be repaired. While doing this he had an idea that would revolutionise the ball. Tom created a new shape that made the ball rounder at the points, so that it would bounce more evenly and made it easier to kick.
THE BEGINNING OF A LEGEND:
In 1879 Tom opened a factory at 32 Wellington Street in Collingwood and T.W Sherrin Pty Ltd was established. The new shaped ball was so quickly accepted that the National Football League of Australia eventually used the size and shape as standard. When Tom passed away in 1912, the business was left to Tom's nephew, John Sydney Sherrin who served his apprenticeship with the company as a teenager. ‘Syd’ operated the business until he passed away in 1941, and his son Tom took over the business until 1972. The Sherrin business was sold in 1972 to Spalding Australia, and in 2003 Spalding were acquired by Russell Corporation. Despite the business changing hands, Sherrin continues 133 years on to make footballs by hand in much the same manner from a factory in Scoresby, Victoria.
THE FOOTBALL MAKING PROCESS:
- There are 23 steps in the production process to develop the perfect Sherrin. The leather balls used for all AFL matches are still handcrafted.
- Over the years, the production of leather balls has only had subtle changes. These include machine stitching some of the panels, instead of hand-stitching and the leather laces have changed to nylon laces. These nylon laces are still hand-laced.
- It takes 22 minutes to produce a Sherrin from start to finish.
- Approx 500 balls are made per day.
- There are 27 Sherrin staff members in the factory making the footballs every day.
- The Sherrin production team today collectively have over 200 years experience and one staff member has been making balls for 36 years.
- Even today, Sherrin remains true to the brand values of high quality craftsmanship and passion for the game.
- The Sherrin has many nicknames such as The Pill, The Nut, The Tooty, The T.W, The Cherry, The Agat and The Pigskin.
- Sherrin is the official ball of the AFL- it is synonymous with the sport
- The Sherrin is an elite piece of leather
- Today there are over 200 different styles of Sherrin footballs in the range.
- Sherrin sponsors over 50 different football leagues across Australia from the AFL to grass roots. The growth in league requirements and increased demand for footballs has meant expanding the Sherrin operation is crucial to meet future expectations.
- Sherrin’s new manufacturing plant (launched in Feb 2012) allows Sherrin to increase capacity and produce more balls than ever before
- A new focus on screen printing as well as traditional foil stamping will improve efficiencies and capabilities.
- It it’s not a Sherrin, it’s just not football