AFL holy grail kicks goals in regional Queensland

More than 100 footy fans turned out in Bundaberg to welcome the prestigious AFL premiership cup.

The so-called ‘holy grail’ is touring regional Queensland on its way to the Gabba for the historic 2020 grand final on October 24.

Barry Gibson is the AFL’s football operations manager in Queensland and he has the task of ensuring the cup has a safe journey.

He even sleeps with the cup.

“It was magnificent, and we didn’t expect to see that many people here at Buss Park in Bundaberg and to see the smiles and joy on faces was amazing.”

a woman wearing a hat and holding a flaga woman wearing a hat and holding a flag
AFL fans turn out to Buss Park in Bundaberg to see the premiership cup.(ABC Wide Bay: Ross Kay)

Bundaberg was a late inclusion for the tour after a written request to AFL boss Gillon McLachlan direct from Mayor Jack Dempsey asking for the rum city to be given a chance to host the cup.

Bundaberg is considered rugby league heartland, but the AFL hopes visits like this will lift grassroots participation in the game. Cr Dempsey is lobbying for better facilities.

“We are looking to improve infrastructure for AFL and cricket.”

A word from the maker

Vincent Formosa has personally handcrafted the premiership cup each year since 1986.

Each one takes up to 120 hours to make and the main component is brass.

“We try and make them the same, but they are never identical,” he said.

“We silver plate the outside and we put 24-carat gold plating on the inside and the oak leaves are also made of gold.”

a close up of the AFL premiership cupa close up of the AFL premiership cup
The AFL Premiership cup features 24- carat gold plating on the inside and the oak leaves on the outside.(ABC Wide Bay: Ross Kay)

Mr Formosa, a Melbourne resident, said he was thankful that the AFL season was resurrected after the coronavirus shutdown and that Queensland secured the grand final.

“We are in lockdown and if it wasn’t for the AFL and the Queensland Government it would be so frustrating. The game is keeping us going to be honest.”

The first-ever cup was presented to Demons captain Ron Barassi in 1959. Previously teams had been awarded flags.

Molly the kangaroo picks Geelong

While the cup visited the beach at Cape Hillsborough near Mackay earlier this week, a kangaroo named Molly was presented with four jerseys. The one it hopped towards was Geelong Cats.

Only time will tell if the roo has correctly predicted the premiership winning team for 2020.

Next stops for the cup will be Toowoomba, Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast before grand final week begins in Brisbane.

A kangaroo standing next to the premiership cup on a beachA kangaroo standing next to the premiership cup on a beach
“Molly” the kangaroo predicts Geelong to win the cup in 2020.(Supplied: AFL)