Main content

Chronology of Australian Football

The 1800s

1858

Australian Football initiated by Thomas Wills.
First set of rules formulated.
July 10: Melbourne Football Club formed.
Aug 7: First recorded ‘match’: Scotch College v Melbourne Grammar School in Yarra Park, with no formal rules.
 

1859

May 17: Melbourne FC rules formulated.
July 18: Geelong Football Club formed.
 

1864

July: Carlton Football Club formed.
 

1869

North Melbourne Football Club formed.

1872

Field umpires introduced. Previously, rival captains had awarded free kicks.
Essendon Football Club formed.
 

1873

April 2: St Kilda Football Club formed.
Team uniforms introduced. Previously, caps had been the only distinguishing feature.
 

1874

May 12: New code of rules drawn up.
All players required to be registered with one club only.
June 19: South Melbourne Football Club formed (called Cecil FC, then changed to SMFC on July 15).
 

1875

All senior matches required to be started on time.
 

1876

Game established in New Zealand.
 

1877

April 30: South Australian Football Association established.
May 7: Victorian Football Association established.
Oval shaped playing areas generally replaced the rectangular versions.
 

1879

MCC finally allows football to be played regularly on the MCG.
July 1: First intercolonial representative match: Victoria v South Australia, played in Melbourne.
Aug 5: First match played at night using electric light: Collingwood Rifles and East Melbourne Artillery draw in front of 12,000.
 

1883

April 26: Footscray Football Club formed; Sept 26: Fitzroy Football Club formed.
 

1885

Feb 20: Richmond Football Club formed.
 

1891

Players on both sides required to take up their allotted positions on the field.
 

1892

Feb 12: Collingwood Football Club formed.
 

1893

Essendon claimed championship by winning all its matches.
 

1896

Oct 2: Delegates from Geelong, Essendon, Collingwood, Fitzroy, Melbourne & South Melbourne met to form the VFL as a break-away competition.
Oct 3: Collingwood defeated South Melbourne at the East Melbourne Cricket Ground in the first play-off match to decide premiership winner.
 

1897

VFA reduced teams from 20 to 18 players.
Feb 5: VFL headquarters established at Port Phillip Club Hotel, Flinders St.
May 8: First round of VFL matches played.
First organised finals system implemented.
 

1899

VFL reduced teams from 20 to 18 players.
Sept 9: St Kilda registered a VFL record low score of one point against Geelong at Corio Oval.
 

top

1900–1930

1900

Ban placed on players wearing hats or caps not in club colours.
May 5: St Kilda successfully protested against Melbourne to win its first VFL match after 48 straight losses.
 

1902

April 9: Hawthorn Football Club formed.
Carlton appoints Jack Worrall as first ever VFL coach.
 

1903

May 23/Aug 3: Two premiership matches played in Sydney. Fitzroy d Collingwood and Geelong d Carlton.
 

1904

May 28: One premiership match played in Sydney. Melbourne d Essendon.
 

1905

November: Australasian Football Council formed.
 

1908

Richmond and University Football Clubs admitted to the competition.
First Australasian Football Carnival held in Melbourne, won by Victoria. New Zealand participates.
July 24: VFL administrative headquarters transferred to the Block Arcade, Collins St.
 

1909

June 5: Geelong successfully protested against St Kilda for playing disqualified player. Boundary umpires first given power to report players.
 

1910

VFL conducted investigation regarding bribery scandal.
 

1911

VFL approved official player payments.
Second Australian Football Carnival held
in Adelaide, won by SA.
 

1912

 April 27: VFL players first wore guernsey numbers in all matches.
April 27: The Football Record first published.
 

1913

VFL Independent Tribunal instituted.
 

1914

Metropolitan zoning introduced.
Third Australian Football Carnival held in Sydney, won by Victoria.
Aug 29: University played its last VFL match.
 

1916

Only four VFL clubs, Carlton, Collingwood, Fitzroy and Richmond competed.
 

1917

Geelong and South Melbourne rejoined the competition.
 

1918

Essendon and St Kilda rejoined the competition.
Aug 24: South Melbourne v Carlton semi-final postponed seven days because of heavy rain.
 

1919

Melbourne returned to the competition.
Reserve Grade formed.
 

1921

Fourth Australian Football Carnival held at Perth, won by WA.
 

1923

VFL appointed Mr Jack Elder, former field umpire, as the first umpires’ instructor.
All VFL venues required to display quarter by quarter scores.
Oct 13: Grand Final postponed seven days because the MCG is flooded.
 

1924

Footscray, Hawthorn and North Melbourne Football Clubs admitted.
New rule: Home team – black knickers; away team – white knickers.
Brownlow Medal instituted. One vote allocated per home and away match.
Fifth Australian Football Carnival held in Hobart, won by Victoria.
 

1926

Club membership ticket holders no longer freely admitted to finals matches.
 

1927

Sixth Australian Football Carnival in Melbourne, won by Victoria.
Collingwood creates history by winning all three major awards: premiership, Brownlow Medal and leading goalkicker.
 

1929

Aug 16: VFL officially moved into Spring St headquarters and named it Harrison House.

1930

“Coulter Law” adopted, restricting payments to players.
Seventh Australian Football Carnival in Adelaide, won by Victoria.
Collingwood became the only VFL club to win four consecutive premierships.
 

top

1931–1960

1931

Brownlow Medal 3-2-1 voting system introduced.
McIntyre Final Four system introduced.
 

1933

June 17: Experimental siren used in Essendon v Geelong match at Windy Hill.
Eighth Australian Football Carnival held in Sydney, won by Victoria.
 

1934

South Melbourne’s Bob Pratt booted a record 150 goals in 21 matches.
 

1936

July 4: Round 10 matches postponed seven days because of flooded grounds.
 

1937

Ninth Australian Football Carnival held in Perth, won by Victoria.
Sept 25: Gordon Coventry (Coll) makes his farewell appearance after scoring a VFL record 1299 career goals.
 

1939

Aug 26: Round 18 matches postponed seven days because of flooded grounds.
 

1940

Payments to players and staff cut in half because of the war.
 

1942

Geelong does not compete due to World War II restrictions.
Payments to players limited to $3 per match.
Finals played at Princes Park while the MCG is used by defence forces.
 

1943

Geelong again does not participate.
Bottom club St Kilda ceases competition after Round 11 due to VFL ruling.
 

1946

Under-19s (thirds) competition starts.
 

1947

Players’ advocates first permitted to defend players at Tribunal hearings.
Tenth Australian National Football Carnival held in Hobart, won by Victoria.
Aug 30: Fred Fanning (Melb) scores VFL record 18 goals against St Kilda at the Junction Oval.
Eleventh Australian National Football Council Championships in Brisbane, won by Victoria.
 

1951

McClelland Trophy introduced for the club recording the most senior, reserves and under-19s match points.
 

1952

June 14-16: Nineteen home and away rounds played to include extra round in interstate and country centres.
June 16: First match played for premiership points at night – Essendon v Geelong at the Brisbane Exhibition Ground.
 

1953

Geelong wins a VFL record 23 consecutive matches spread over two seasons.
Twelfth ANFC Championships in Adelaide, won by Victoria.
 

1956

Thirteenth ANFC Championships in Perth, won by Victoria.
First night competition played between eight clubs, and won by South Melbourne.
 

1957

Last quarters of VFL matches televised live.
Reserved seating for finals matches introduced.
 

1958

Centenary of Australian Football.
June 16: Highest VFL home and away match attendance – 99,346 at the MCG, Queen’s Birthday Monday; Melbourne defeated Collingwood.
Fourteenth ANFC Championships in Melbourne, won by Victoria.
 

1959

Reserve grade matches first played as ‘curtain-raisers’ to seniors.
Premiership cup first presented to the victorious captain.

1960

April 23: Round two postponed due to torrential rain. Two of the matches played Anzac Day and remainder the next Saturday.
April 25: Matches permitted on Anzac Day for the first time – Fitzroy d Carlton at Princes Park and Melbourne d St Kilda at the Junction Oval.
 

top

1961–1980

1961

TV stations no longer permitted to show live telecasts or replays. Replay of Grand Final allowed in last-minute deal.
Fifteenth ANFC championships at Brisbane, won by WA.
VFL buys land in the city of Waverley for development as a sports arena.
 

1962

TV stations now permitted to show replays of VFL matches.
 

1963

July 13: Round 10 matches postponed seven days because of flooded grounds.
 

1966

Sixteenth Australian Football championships played in Hobart, won by Victoria.
 

1967

Brownlow Medal vote-reading system changed to third being read first and first votes read last.
 

1968

Zoning introduced whereby Victoria and Riverina divided into areas and allocated to VFL clubs.
 

1969

Seventeenth Australian Football Championships played in Adelaide, won by Victoria.
 

1970

April 5: Fitzroy defeats Richmond in the first VFL match played on a Sunday.
April 18: Waverley Park hosts its first match: Geelong defeats Fitzroy.
Aug 31: First direct telecast of Brownlow Medal count.
Sept 26: Highest VFL match attendance: 121,696 at the MCG: Grand Final – Carlton d Collingwood.
 

1971

Night Series competition based at the Lake Oval played for the last time.
Hawthorn’s Peter Hudson scores an equal record 150 goals for the season.
 

1972

Feb 23: New VFL headquarters opened in Jolimont Street.
Eighteenth Australian Football Championships played in Perth, won by Victoria.
 

1973

Ten-year automatic clearance rule introduced. In May it was rescinded.
 

1975

Clubs permitted to adopt coloured shorts for introduced colour television coverage.
Video tape of incidents becomes admissible evidence at Tribunal hearings.
 

1976

Two field umpires first used in VFL matches.
VFL logo introduced on to players’ uniforms.
 

1977

Night Series competition reintroduced.
Sept 23: First Grand Final parade.
Sept 24: Channel Seven telecasts both Grand Finals (draw and replay) live in Victoria for the first time.
Oct 1: Presentation of premiership medallions to players immediately after the Grand Final introduced.
 

1979

Two VFL matches for premiership points played in Sydney and telecast directly in Victoria.
Nineteenth Australian Football Championships played in Perth, won by WA.
 

1979

July 28: Fitzroy defeats Melbourne at Waverley Park by a VFL record 190 points.
Sept 29: Norm Smith Medal introduced for the best afield in the Grand Final.

1980

Four VFL matches played in Sydney.
Twentieth Australian Football Championships played in Adelaide, won by Victoria.
Sept 29: First presentation of losing Grand Final team players’ medallions.

top

1981–2000

1981

Three VFL home and away rounds played interstate, two in Sydney, one in Brisbane.
Field umpires strike during Round 19 due to administrative dispute.
Sept 26: Last presentation of losing Grand Final team players’ medallions.
 

1982

South Melbourne relocates to Sydney.
March 17: New VFL Headquarters opened in Jolimont Road.
Live telecasts of SCG matches permitted outside Sydney.
 

1983

VFL forced to redraft regulations following successful court challenge by Silvio Foschini to be granted a clearance.
Aug 5: First Friday night match for premiership points: Geelong defeats Sydney at the SCG.
 

1984

VFL Commission formed.
Sept 9: First Sunday finals match: Collingwood defeats Fitzroy at the MCG.
New rules governing player transfers and payments implemented.
Salary cap introduced for use in 1985.
 

1985

Independent VFL Commission became the decision-making body.
 

1986

Introduction of National Player Draft.
Abolition of Victorian Country Zoning.
 

1987

West Coast Football Club and Brisbane Football Club admitted to the competition.
The ABC televises VFL matches for a year. At least one match shown live weekly.
 

1988

Twenty-first Australian Football Championships played in Adelaide, won by SA.
 

1989

Abolition of Victorian Metropolitan Zoning.
 

1990

Jan 1: The VFL renamed as the AFL.
 

1991

Adelaide FC admitted to the competition.
Fitzroy played two home matches at North Hobart.
Introduction of 40-year agreement with MCC
to play at least once weekly at the MCG during finals series.
Last season of League under-19s competition.
McClelland Trophy now awarded to senior club finishing top at end of home and away series.
Sept 28: Michael Tuck (Hawthorn) made his farewell appearance in his AFL record 426th match.
Under 19s competition abolished at the end of the season.
 

1992

MCG colour video scoreboard first used for AFL matches.
May 3: Geelong scored AFL record 37.17 (239) against Brisbane at Carrara.
May 4: AFL Headquarters relocated to MCG Great Southern Stand.
Fitzroy played two home matches at North Hobart.
 

1994

Final eight system introduced.
Introduction of three field umpire system.
Third interchange player permitted in AFL matches.
Bleeding players first required to leave the field immediately for treatment.
 

1995

Fremantle admitted to the competition.
May 27: Fitzroy played a home match against West Coast Eagles at Bruce Stadium, Canberra.
 

1996

July 4: AFL Commission reached agreement on a proposal for Brisbane and Fitzroy to merge at the end of the season.
Sept 1: Fitzroy played its last AFL match.
 

1997

Port Adelaide admitted to the competition.
Footscray renamed the Western Bulldogs.
 

1998

Fourth interchange player permitted in AFL matches.
Aug 1: North Melbourne played a home match against Port Adelaide at Manuka Oval, Canberra.
 

1999

Reserves competition abolished at the end of the season.

2000

March 9: Docklands Stadium hosted its first AFL match – Essendon defeated Port Adelaide.
March 19: An AFL match occurred under a roof for the first time - Brisbane Lions defeated the Western Bulldogs at Docklands.
Essendon won 24 of 25 matches for season, an all-time AFL record.
Nov 6: AFL Headquarters relocated to Docklands.
 

top

2001–Present day

2001

April 12: Essendon’s AFL record of 31 consecutive rounds on top of ladder finally ended.
May 6: Hawthorn played a home match against Adelaide at York Park, Launceston.
Dec 10: Sale of Waverley Park announced.
 

2002

May 25: Stadium Australia hosted its first AFL match, Sydney v Essendon attracting 54,129 spectators (record match attendance outside Victoria).
 

2003

MCG capacity reduced after work starts on the redevelopment of the stadium.
June 13-15: AFL matches played in six different states/territories in the same round for the first time.
July 30: Andrew Demetriou, the AFL's general manager-football operations, is appointed the AFL's new chief executive officer, replacing Wayne Jackson.
August 23: Stadium Australia (now ANZ Stadium) attracted the biggest crowd for a game played outside Victoria when 72,393 watch the Sydney v Collingwood match.
 

2004

August 14: The Western Bulldogs played a home match against Port Adelaide at TIO Stadium, Darwin. Matches were now being played in seven different states/territories.
 

2005

A major review of the Tribunal system introduced. All reports channelled through the Match Review Panel.
 

2006

January 5: The Seven and Ten Networks acquired the rights to broadcast AFL games from 2007 to 2011.
April 30: The round five clash between St Kilda and Fremantle at Aurora Stadium finished in a draw, despite the fact the siren sounded before the behind that tied the game was kicked.
May 3: After detailed submissions from Fremantle and St Kilda and an AFL administration investigation, the AFL Commission awarded the game to Fremantle.
 

2009

The AFL grants a licence for Gold Coast to become the 17th club. The Gold Coast Suns will enter the competition in 2011.
 

2010

AFL record aggregate attendance for a premiership season was established – 7,147,052 for 186 games.
AFL record finals aggregate attendance for a premiership season was established – 651,228 for 10 games.
The third Grand Final draw in AFL history is played between Collingwood and St Kilda.
The AFL grants a licence for Greater Western Sydney to become the 18th club.
 

2011

Gold Coast admitted to the competition.
April 28: The AFL announces it has reached agreement with the Seven Network, Foxtel and Telstra to broadcast AFL matches for the next five years, covering the period 2012-16. The agreement will deliver $1.253 billion to the game. 
 

2012

Greater Western Sydney Giants admitted to the competition.
Free agency introduced.
 

top