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Chronology of Australian Football

The 1800s


Australian Football initiated by Thomas Wills. First set of rules formulated.
July 10: Melbourne Football Club formed.
No time limit in matches. First team to score two goals declared the winner.
Aug 7: First recorded match: Scotch College v Melbourne Grammar School in Yarra Park.


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


May 28: Rules revised.


July: Carlton Football Club formed.


May 8: Rules revised.
Time limit for matches introduced. Team scoring most goals declared the winner.
Captains tossed for the first time and behind posts used in addition to goal posts.
Oval ball began to replace the spherical type.


North Melbourne Football Club formed.


Revision of rules.
Field umpires were introduced. Previously, rival captains had awarded free kicks.
May: Essendon Football Club formed.


April 3: St Kilda Football Club formed.
Team uniforms introduced. Previously, caps had been the only distinguishing feature.


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.


All senior matches required to be started on time.


Australian game established in New Zealand.


May 7: Victorian Football Association (VFA) established.
Rules again revised.
Oval shaped playing areas generally replaced the rectangular versions.


MCC finally allowed football to be played regularly on the MCG.
July 1: First intercolonial match: Victoria v South Australia played in Melbourne.
Aug 6: First match played at night using electric light: Collingwood Artillery and East Melbourne draw in front of 12,000.


Oct: Fitzroy and Footscray Football Clubs formed.


Feb 20: Richmond Football Club formed.


Game first played with four quarters instead of two halves.


Central umpire required to bounce ball at start of each quarter instead of throwing it up into the air.
System of waving flags to signify goals implemented.


Players on both sides required to take up their allotted positions on the field.
Introduction of centre bounce at start of quarters and after every goal.


March 11: Collingwood Football Club formed.


Essendon claimed championship by winning all its matches.


Oct 2: Delegates from Geelong, Essendon, Collingwood, Fitzroy, Melbourne and South Melbourne met to form the Victorian Football League (VFL) as a breakaway competition.
Oct 3: Collingwood defeated South Melbourne at the East Melbourne CG in the first play-off match to decide premiership winner.


Feb 5: League headquarters established at Port Phillip Club Hotel, Flinders St.
May 8: First round of League matches played.
New system of scoring implemented, awarding six points for a goal, one point for a behind.
First organised finals system implemented.


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



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.


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


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


Boundary umpires first appointed to League matches.
May 28: One premiership match played in Sydney. Melbourne defeated Essendon.


Nov: Australasian Football Council formed.


Nov: Inaugural Meeting of the Australasian Football Council. Laws of the 'Australasian Game of Football' adopted.


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


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


Goal umpires first given power to report players.
League conducted investigation regarding bribery scandal.


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


League players first wore guernsey numbers in all matches.
The Football Record first published.
Stewards with power to report players introduced.


League Independent Tribunal instituted.


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


Only four League clubs: Carlton, Collingwood, Fitzroy and Richmond competed.


Geelong and South Melbourne rejoined the competition.


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


Melbourne returned to the competition.
Reserve Grade formed.


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


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


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.


Radio descriptions introduced during the finals.


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


Goal umpires first required to compare scores at the end of each quarter.
Sixth Australian Football Carnival held in Melbourne, won by Victoria.
Collingwood created history by winning all three major awards: premiership, Brownlow Medal and leading goalkicker.


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


'Coulter Law' adopted, restricting payments to players.
May 30: The 19th man first used as a substitute in a League match.
Seventh Australian Football Carnival held in Adelaide, won by Victoria.
Collingwood became the only League club to win four consecutive premierships.



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


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


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


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


Ninth Australian Football Carnival held in Perth, won by Victoria.


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


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


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


Bottom club St Kilda ceased competition after Round 11 due to League ruling.


Geelong rejoined the competition.


Law changed to allow two substitutes, creating 20th man position.
Under-19s (Thirds) competition commenced.


Players' advocates first permitted to defend players at Tribunal hearings.
Tenth Australian Football Carnival held in Hobart, won by Victoria.
Aug 30: Fred Fanning (Melbourne) scored League record 18 goals against St Kilda at the Junction Oval.


Eleventh Australian Football Championships in Brisbane, won by Victoria.


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


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


Geelong won a League record 23 consecutive matches spread over two seasons.
Twelfth Australian Football Championships in Adelaide, won by Victoria.


Clubs allowed to use on-field coach's runner for the first time.


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


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


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


Reserve Grade matches first played as 'curtain raisers' to seniors.
Premiership cup first presented to the victorious captain.



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 defeated Carlton at Princes Park and Melbourne defeated St Kilda at the Junction Oval.


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


TV stations now permitted to show replays of League matches.


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


Coaches first permitted to enter arena at quarter time to address players.


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


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


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


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


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


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


Feb 23: New League headquarters opened in Jolimont Street.
Field umpire first required to toss coin for captains.
Eighteenth Australian Football Championships played in Perth, won by Victoria.


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


Clubs permitted to adopt coloured shorts for introduced colour television coverage.
Videotape of incidents became admissible evidence at Tribunal hearings.


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


Night Series competition reintroduced.
Sept 23: First Grand Final parade.
Sept 24: Channel Seven telecast 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.


Clubs permitted to interchange players for the first time in premiership matches.


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


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



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.


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.


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


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 defeated Sydney at the SCG.


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


Independent VFL Commission became the decision-making body.


Introduction of 50-metre arc ground markings.
Video investigation first used to examine onfield incidents.
Introduction of National Player Draft.
Abolition of Victorian Country Zoning.


West Coast FC and Brisbane FC admitted to the competition.
Matches were played at Carrara (Qld) and Perth (WA) for the first time.
The ABC televised League matches for a year. At least one match shown live weekly.


Emergency umpires empowered to report players.
Twenty-first Australian Football Championships played in Adelaide, won by SA.


Abolition of Victorian Metropolitan Country Zoning.


Jan 1: The VFL renamed as the AFL (Australian Football League).


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 VFL 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 League record 426th match.


MCG colour video scoreboard first used for AFL matches.
May 3: Geelong scored League 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.


Introduction of three field umpire system.


Third interchange player permitted in AFL matches.
Bleeding players first required to leave the field immediately for treatment.


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


Sept 1: Fitzroy played its last AFL match.


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


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


North Melbourne renamed the Kangaroos.



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


April 12: Essendon's League 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.


May 25: Stadium Australia hosted its first AFL match, Sydney v Essendon attracting 54,129 spectators (first match attendance of 50,000 or more outside Victoria).


June 13–15: AFL matches played in six different states/territories in the same round for the first time.
July 30: Andrew Demetriou replaced Wayne Jackson as AFL Chief Executive Officer.
August 23: Docklands Stadium attracted the biggest crowd for a game outside of Victoria when 72,393 watched the Sydney v Collingwood match.


August 14: Western Bulldogs played a home match against Port Adelaide at Marrara Oval, Darwin. Matches were played in seven different States/Territories for the first time.
Sep 25: Port Adelaide won its first Premiership


A revamped Tribunal system, including a Match Review Panel, was implemented.


Carrara resurrected as an AFL venue.


AFL record aggregate attendance record for a Premiership season was established: 7,049,945 for 185 matches.