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AFL history

Chronology of Australian Football

The 1800s

1858

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.

1859

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

1860

May 28: Rules revised.

1864

July: Carlton Football Club formed.

1866

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.

1869

North Melbourne Football Club formed.

1872

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

1873

April 3: 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.

1875

All senior matches required to be started on time.

1876

Australian game established in New Zealand.

1877

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

1879

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.

1883

Oct: Fitzroy and Footscray Football Clubs formed.

1884

Feb 20: Richmond Football Club formed.

1886

Game first played with four quarters instead of two halves.

1887

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.

1891

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.

1892

March 11: Collingwood Football Club formed.

1893

Essendon claimed championship by winning all its matches.

1896

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.

1897

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.

1899

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.

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

1903

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

1904

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

1905

Nov: Australasian Football Council formed.

1906

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

1908

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.

1909

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

1910

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

1911

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

1912

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

1913

League Independent Tribunal instituted.

1914

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

1916

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

1917

Geelong and South Melbourne rejoined the competition.

1918

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.

1919

Melbourne returned to the competition.
Reserve Grade formed.

1921

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

1923

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.

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.

1925

Radio descriptions introduced during the finals.

1926

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

1927

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.

1929

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

1930

'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.

1930–1960

1931

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

1933

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.

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.

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 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.

1943

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

1944

Geelong rejoined the competition.

1946

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

1947

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.

1950

Eleventh Australian Football 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.
16th June: First match played for premiership points at night: Essendon v Geelong at the Brisbane Exhibition Ground.

1953

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

1955

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

1956

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

1957

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

1958

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.

1959

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

1960–1980

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

1961

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.

1962

TV stations now permitted to show replays of League matches.

1963

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

1964

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

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 League clubs.

1969

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

1970

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.

1971

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.

1972

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.

1973

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

1975

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

1976

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

1977

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.

1977

Oct 1: Presentation of premiership medallions to players immediately after the Grand Final introduced.

1978

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

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 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.

1980–1999

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.

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 relocated 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 defeated Sydney at the SCG.

1984

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.

1985

Independent VFL Commission became the decision-making body.

1986

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.

1987

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.

1988

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

1989

Abolition of Victorian Metropolitan Country Zoning.

1990

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

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 VFL under-19s competition.
McClelland Trophy now awarded to senior club finishing top at end of home and away series.

1991

Sept 28: Michael Tuck (Hawthorn) made his farewell appearance in his League record 426th match.

1992

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.

1993

Introduction of three field umpire system.

1994

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

1995

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

1996

Sept 1: Fitzroy played its last AFL match.

1997

Port Adelaide FC 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

North Melbourne renamed the Kangaroos.

2000–2007

2000

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.

2001

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.

2002

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).

2003

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.

2004

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

2005

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

2006

Carrara resurrected as an AFL venue.

2007

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