With Carlton certain to pull the plug on the alignment, what are the options for the Northern Bullants in 2008. To me it would seem that the club is faced with the prospect of going stand-alone, a partial alignment with North Melbourne or the wild card of a full alignment with the Sydney Swans. For me an alignment needs to be geographical or have a past connection with the area. In the case of the Bullants, the only two clubs that fit this criteria are Carlton or Collingwood. Both AFL clubs have a strong supporter base in the Northern suburbs and had zones in the pre-draft era. As alignment options neither Carlton or Collingwood seem a realistic option so I think stand-alone is the go. My worry with a alignment with North Melbourne, is that for a handful of players, we would give up our standing as a Northern Suburbs club. Currently we do that, but Carlton's strong supporter base in the area makes up for what we lose. An alignment with North Melbourne effectively paints the club as being apart of North Melbourne and makes it hard to attract support from people in the Northern Suburbs who barrack for other AFL clubs. At the recent Bullants-Tasmainia game you could count the number of North Melbourne supporters on one hand. North Melbourne also don't have a great track record as an alignment partner. I'm prepared to overlook the Tassie alignment, players flying to another state every second week had little chance of working, but what about their relationship with Port Melbourne! Didn't work because North wanted total control of who played where, who coached Port etc. The same issues that have bugged the Bullants-Carlton alignment. I really think we should bite the bullet and go stand-alone. We have done everything to look after the interests of Carlton and still they're not satisfied. In short Carlton want the Bullants to play games at Carlton, choose the coach and some even want us to wear the Carlton jumper. I was no fan of Barry Mitchell in the first half of 2004, but to his credit he did help turn the club around, simply because he seemed to embrace that he was coaching the Bullants and not Carlton reserves. It would have been crazy to replace him, like Carlton wanted to, after taking the club to the finals in 2005 and the less said about the Pagan/Mitchell fiasco the better. In the five years of the alignment the Bullants have progressed to a professional VFL club while Carlton continue to run their club like a dog's breakfast. The fact that we don't control our own destiny has hurt us this year. Less than six weeks after a stirring win against North Ballarat the club has lost to Williamstown and Casey by over 80-points. As a stand-alone club we may lose the odd game by 80-points but at least supporters would come away knowing that everyone is on the same page.
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