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  • Rikki Lambert

Charlton rejects Wycheproof plea to merge

Members of the Wycheproof-Narraport Demons have been left without a merger suitor for the second time in 3 years.

Demons football, netball and hockey club members voted on Wednesday to approach the Charlton Blues football netball and hockey club for a merger, but it emerged on Thursday afternoon that Charlton members had rejected the request.

The second failed merger attempt follows previous discussions between the clubs and Wycheproof-Narraport's 2019 vote to explore amalgamating with Nullawil. The Maroons are now dominating in the cross-border Golden Rivers league and in 2019 the possible merger did not receive the necessary support from both clubs.

The decision to merge has been a difficult one for both iconic towns based in the Buloke Shire region of North Central and Mallee Victoria.

FlowNews24 understand that Wycheproof has 14 junior football players taking the field each week for Charlton in under 16 and under 13 competitions.

Wycheproof has struggled to field junior football sides for the past 8 years.

Demons president Mark McLennan told FlowNews24 there was no crisis at the club:

"This wasn't a crisis situation but a move for the future.
"We will be continuing for some time yet but will actively pursue all avenues for the long term future."

The merger rejection raises the question of the long-term direction for the club, and whether it now approaches other prospective partners such as North Central rivals Quambatook or Boort, or returning to the negotiation table with Golden Rivers' Nullawil.

Charlton could also see future junior numbers decline as local school enrolments dwindle. In 2020, there was 140 reception to year 12 students at Charlton, while Wycheproof had dropped to 96.

Charlton’s 2016 town population had dropped to 961 people, while Wycheproof’s town population was 588.

Both clubs have fielded most sides in Netball and Hockey but football numbers in the younger age groups are clearly the motivating factor for the amalgamation.

The wider North Central League has clubs at Boort, Wedderburn, St Arnaud, Donald, Birchip-Watchem and Sea Lake – Nandaly.

Nearby Nullawil and Quambatook are playing in the Golden Rivers League.

Charlton, currently sits 5th on the North Central Football ladder with 3 wins from 6 games while Wycheproof has dropped to second last with just the single win.

Wycheproof were scheduled to host Charlton at Wycheproof on 5 June, subject to Victoria's restrictions also announced on Thursday.

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