Brief History of the Australian Football League

For any sports enthusiast or sportsman, it is good to understand and know about the game you are interested in as much as possible. This article has looked at the history of major football leagues, the AFL and the NFL, and the history of horse racing.

A brief history of the Australian Football League, AFL

The history of the Australian Football League, AFL dates back to 1858. On his return to Australia, Tom Willis, a cricketer and a Rugby School, had an idea of keeping cricketers fit while on the off-season. He, therefore, wrote a mail to Bell’s Life in Victoria and Sporting Chronicle, expressing the need to start a ‘foot-ball club’ with a set of rules and regulations for the cricketers to remain active during Winter.r0_439_4299_2866_w1200_h678_fmax

Willis, H.C.A Harrison (Willis’ cousin), W.J Hammersy and J.B Thompson then created the game and formed the first club, Melbourne Football Club in 1858. The game was then widely known as the Australian Rules football. It blossomed quickly, and by July 31st, 1858, the first unofficial and therefore unrecorded game was played on the Richmond Paddock grounds. August 7th the same year, the first recorded match went down, between Scotch College and Melbourne Grammar.

Geelong Football Club was another early club, formed July 18th, 1859 and five years later, Carlton Football Club was also formed. By this time, the game had spread across Australia, played in several parts of the country. South Australia first played the game in 1860, Queensland played in 1866, Tasmania had its first match in 1867, Western Australia in the year 1868 and New South Wales first played in 1874. 1866 saw a competition begin after updated rules were set in place. Time limits were introduced, and the matches would now last four quarters contrary to the previous two halves. Australian Rules football would later be called Victorian Rules, and in 1877, the Victorian Football Association was formed. 1896 saw the establishment of a league, the Victorian Football League with eight teams which include; Collingwood, Carlton, Fitzroy, Geelong, Essendon, South Melbourne, St. Kilda, and Melbourne. In early 1900’s other clubs like University, Richmond joined the


Hawthorn, North Melbourne, and Footsy also joined in 1925. The league continued with 12 clubs up to 1987, after which it expanded far beyond the state. Clubs like Brisbane, West Coast, Adelaide, Port Adelaide and Fremantle joined the League. Due to this expansion, the league was named Australian Football League in 1990. The end of the 1996 season saw the merger between Fitzroy and Brisbane to form Brisbane Lions. Greater Western Sydney (also known as the Giants) and Gold Coast, the Suns, joined the league in 2010 making up the 18 teams presently in the league.

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