From Preston Leader
Reported by Sam Landsberger

ONLY 40 members turned up to a special meeting called to decide the future the Northern Bullants Football Club on Wednesday night. And of the 40 who attended, ‘‘ about 36’’ financial members voted, with ‘‘at least 75 per cent’’ backing the club’s plans to merge with Bullants AFL affiliate Carlton, said general manager Garry O’sullivan. O’sullivan said about 250 of the Ants’ 1900 members were invited to the meeting to vote on the club’s future. The club needed 75 per cent of those who voted to support its push to merge with the Blues, which it achieved.

‘‘The people at the meeting asked some terrific questions. There wasn’t any heckling or outright negativity,’’ O’sullivan said.

‘‘We’ll still be running the club, but we’re splitting some of the major properties. And we think that’s only fair enough. If it wasn’t for the Carlton Football Club, we wouldn’t be in existence.

‘‘We don’t want to join the 14 VFA clubs which are gone.’’

But Ants legend Ray Shaw said the club would no longer exist in the minds of the Preston Bullants’ faithful, saying next year it would simply be the Carlton reserves.

‘‘The history that Preston’s got, 99 per cent has gone,’’ he said.

‘‘Anyone that thinks this is still Preston has rocks in their head.’’

Shaw did not attend Wednesday’s meeting, saying he felt it would have been futile.
But had he gone he said he would have voted in favour of the club merging with Carlton.

‘‘I’m really disappointed, but I can understand. They’ve been a great club for 100 years but unfortunately the financial situation isn’t great,’’ he said.

In September, Leader reported a Bullants loyalist, Andrew Calleja, was planning a meeting of members after the VFL finals series to try and derail the club’s plans to merge with the Blues.

But Calleja recently said that meeting never eventuated as ‘‘the club just doesn’t have the strong supporter base culture like Williamstown or Sandringham to oppose this’’.

Calleja said the few remaining Bullants members had ‘‘taken the bait’’ and when the Ants started playing games at Carlton’s Visy Park it killed off remaining local support for the club.

But O’sullivan stressed the BluesBullants alignment was not a takeover but a merger, despite the 129-year-old club forfeiting naming rights, its jumper and a home game next season.

He added plans to keep the Bullants’ logo on a navy blue jumper had been scuttled, and the new-look outfit would strive to use Carlton’s logo, should the AFL allow it.

‘‘ We don’t have room on the jumper for both and the bullant hasn’t been around forever and a day,’’ he said.

O’sullivan said there would ‘‘never’’ be any less than three Bullants home games annually played at Preston and the initials PFC would remain on the back of the new jumper.