Monday, 2 Oct 2023

A Short History of Aussie Rules Football

Aussie Rules Football History

Australian Rules football was invented in 1858 in Melbourne, Australia and the first match which took place before the codification of Australian Rules football was organised and umpired by Tom Willis on 31st July 1858 at the Richmond Paddock. The match was contested by Melbourne Grammar School and Scotch College, and the oldest surviving set of rules of Australian Rules football was drawn up on 17th May 1859.

Origins of the Sport

It is believed that Australian Rules football was initially created as a way for cricketers to stay fit during winter. A letter penned by Tom Willis published in Bell’s Life in Victoria & Sporting Chronicle on 10th July 1858 calls for a “foot-ball club, a rifle club, or other athletic pursuits” to keep cricketers active during the colder months, and the aforementioned experimental match took place on 31st July 1858.

The Melbourne Football Club rules of 1859 are the oldest surviving set of rules for Australian Rules football, but many neighbouring clubs were not interested in adopting the updates rules at first. However several clubs had agreed to play by the updated version by 1866.

Historic Aussie Rules Football Clubs

Even though Australian Rules football is the most popular sport in Australia, it certainly isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. However, if watching the game is unavoidable for whatever reason, you could always entertain yourself by playing mobile casino games instead!

The modern day Australian Football League consists of many teams which were formed right at the very beginnings of the sport, and besides the Melbourne Football Club which was formed in 1859, the following early teams still in existence are the following:

  • Geelong, 1859
  • Carlton, 1864
  • North Melbourne aka Hotham, 1869
  • Port Adelaide, 1870
  • Essendon, 1873
  • St Kilda, 1873
  • South Melbourne, now the Sydney Swans, 1874
  • Footscray, now the Western Bulldogs, 1887

The Popularity Spreads

As the popularity of the sport grew it began to spread from Victoria to other Australian colonies as well as overseas, beginning with South Australia (1860), Tasmania (1864), Queensland (1866), New Zealand (1868), New South Wales (1877), and Western Australia (1881). By 1916 the game was being played in the Northern Territory of Australia, which meant that Australian Rules football had established a permanent presence in all Australian states and Mainland territories.

The first intercolonial match was held between Victoria and South Australia in 1879.

Forming a National League

The South Australian Football Association (SAFA) was formed in 1877 which was followed a 3 short days later by the formation of the Victoria Football Association (VFA). However a rift in the VFA led to a split in the association and the Victoria Football League (VFL) was formed and play commenced in 1897 as an 8-team breakaway club of the stronger clubs from the VFA.

Then, in 1982, the South Melbourne Football Club – one of the original VFL clubs – relocated to Sydney and became known as the Sydney Swans. This move brought about significant changes within the sport and stronger interstate interest in the VFL led to a more national competition in the late 80s, as well as the formation of two more non-Victorian clubs, the West Coast Eagles and the Brisbane Bears in 1987.

In the 1989 season the league changed its name to the Australian Football League (AFL) and more teams were permitted to join over the ensuing years. Today, the AFL consists of 18 member clubs, is the sport’s elite competition, and the most powerful and wealthy body in the world of Aussie Rules football.