By: Daniel Kelly (@UKurrie)

The famous PFC jumpers are back!

 

In its 140th year, the Northern Bullants will wear the iconic jumper for home games against Port Melbourne (15th May, 1.05pm), Williamstown (2nd July) and Box Hill (23rd July), with more opportunities to see the PFC jumper to be announced soon.

The prominent PFC monogram on the famous red and white jumper will bring back memories of the halcyon days of the Bullants at Cramer Street when it was not uncommon for 10,000 fans to watch the Ants battle some of their longtime VFA foes.

The historic jumper will be re-launched to the current team on the 10th May at Preston City Oval by former players who were proud to wear the PFC.

A past players lunch will be held on the 15th May before the clash with standalone rivals Port Melbourne, as the PFC returns to regular season match action for the first time since 1999.

The Ants would like to invite past players and members to a pre-event function on the 15th May to help celebrate. Please RSVP to Gordon Towan 0411 250 983.

The PFC was instantly recognisable to all football fans across much of Preston’s proud footballing history, which dates back to 1882.

The Bullants are VFA royalty having won four premierships (1968, 1969, 1983, 1984) from ten Grand Final attempts, and two VFA division 2 premierships (1963, 1965).

Preston still holds the record for the most players adjudged the league’s best player with 12 Ants being awarded the J.J. Liston Trophy or its predecessor, the Recorder Cup.

Prior to joining the VFA, Preston was amongst the first clubs to be asked to join Australia’s first organised Australian rules football competition in 1890 – the Victorian Junior Football Association (VJFA). They duly won three premierships in a row (1900, 1901, 1902).

 

In 1903 they joined the VFA but struggled with on field success and returned to the VJFA in 1913.  Preston started the build to two more VJFA premierships in 1921 and 1923 before re-joining the VFA in 1926.

 

Preston had played in a blue jumper with a yellow sash up until joining the VFA in 1903. This presented a clash with Williamstown and they duly changed to a maroon strip.

 

The red and white jumper would be adopted during Preston’s second stint in the VJFA and was carried into their re-entry into the VFA in 1926.

 

The first published reference to Preston being given the moniker ‘the Bullants’ occurred in 1938 in the Herald newspaper when VFA clubs began to adopt nicknames.

‘Preston will be known as the Bullants,’ it noted, ‘because they can sting’.

The Bullants name was also popularised on radio commentary around the same time when, in their bright red and white jumpers, they were described as ‘like a swarm of bullants’.

After a hiatus for World War II, the VFA returned in 1945 and so did the Bullants – now with the PFC monogram squarely in the middle of its jumper.

Past players and coaches include Alan Joyce (who led the team to premierships in 1968 and 1969), Ray Shaw (captain coach of the 1983 and 1984 premiership teams), Roy Cazaly, Browlow medallist Bert Deacon and other Australian football legends.

 

The Bullants also have plenty of other fan favourites too like Harold Martin – player coach in the late 70’s just before the Ants second golden age. Martin, uncompromising and passionate, took on Prahran hard man Sam Kekovich in a personal duel during the 1978 Grand Final which has gone down in VFA folklore.

 

After Preston, Martin would go on to coach Coburg and the player judged best afield between the two Bell St rivals is now awarded the Harold Martin Medal for their efforts – Daniel Hughes the recipient last year after the Ants epic one point win.

 

The Ants have been involved in some iconic moments in VFA history.

 

Roy Cazaly, the protagonist in Mike Williamson’s legendary song, decided to sack half his team at the mid-point of the 1931 season needing a miracle to make the finals. Kevin Sheedy may claim have made the ‘Baby Bombers’ famous in 1993 but Cazaly almost did it sixty years prior.

 

Cazaly promoted all of his young players and Preston won 11 and drew one match from the final 12 games of the season to sneak into the finals. Injuries caught up with the brave Preston side and they fell short in the preliminary final.

 

Likely the most controversial moment of Bullants history came during the 1971 Grand Final.

 

Or did it truly occur during the game? That’s the point of conjecture ever since.

 

Prior to first whistle and siren sounding to start the premiership match between Preston and Dandenong, the umpire awarded a free kick to a Dandenong forward for an Ants indiscretion.

 

The forward kicked the goal and the Ants would go on to lose by six points at the end of the day.

 

The debate raged for many days after the match as to whether the umpire could award a free kick before he had indicated the game had commenced. The whistle, and siren, to start the match only sounded as the Dandenong forward lined up for goal.

 

The Bullants would take the issue to the VFA and, despite having support from the legal community, the VFA upheld the decision as opposed to ordering a replay and Dandenong remain the premiership team in 1971.

 

Throughout the years, in good times and when the club needed help, the supporters and volunteers have been intrinsically linked to the club – celebrating, supporting, helping – but, above all else; loyal, and showing that famous Ants spirit.

 

More than ever, it’s important to support the club to create more iconic memories and build towards a successful team once again.

 

Memberships are still available  to see the PFC in action again in 2022.