History

Students
Letter Link: AFL

Did you know that Australian Football (sometimes known as Aussie Rules, AFL or just footy) is the only major sport played in Australia that was actually created in Australia? That's pretty cool, isn't it? Australian Football is over 150 years old and has a very interesting history. Keep reading to find out more.

Thomas Wills
Thomas Wills

  • 1858 – The first game of Australian Football (initially known just as footy) was played. Did you know that the idea for the game came from a Victorian man called Thomas Wills? He thought it would be a good game for cricketers to play during their off season.

  • 1859 – The first-ever recorded set of rules for Australian Football was formulated by the Melbourne Football Club – and would you believe there were only ten of them?

  • 1870s – It did not take long for Australian Football to become known as "the game of the people". Thousands started attending the games to see the tough physical clashes, exhilarating long runs and exciting high marks.

  • 1873 – Team uniforms were introduced, but they didn't have numbers until 1911.

  • 1877 – An oval-shaped ball was used for all matches. Before this the game was often played with a round ball.

  • 1904 – Joe Johnson became the first Indigenous person to play Australian Football at a senior level. He played 55 games for Fitzroy, including grand finals in 1904, 1905 and 1906.

  • 1908 – Chinese national Wally Koochew becomes one of the first men of Asian descent to play Australian Football.

Television
Televised Australian Football game

  • 1957 to 1962 – We take it for granted that we can watch our favourite team on TV each week, but it hasn't always been this way. Games were first telecast in 1957, but only the last quarters of matches were shown. Then in 1961 TV was no longer allowed to telecast games live, or even in replay! Luckily, in 1962 this changed again and replays were allowed.

  • 1975 – Teams began to wear coloured shorts. This coincided with the introduction of colour television broadcasts.

  • 1982 – The South Melbourne Football Club relocated to Sydney and became the Sydney Swans.

  • 1987 – The West Coast Eagles and Brisbane Bears (now the Brisbane Lions) Football Clubs were admitted to the Victorian Football League (VFL) competition. Until then, there was no national competition and the VFL was considered to be the best State-based competition.

  • 1990 – The Victorian Football League (VFL) was renamed the Australian Football League (AFL) to reflect the national competition.

  • 1990s – During the 1990s three new clubs joined the AFL: Adelaide Crows in 1991, Fremantle in 1995 and Port Adelaide in 1997.

Jim Stynes
Jim Stynes

  • 1991 – Irishman Jim Stynes was the first non-Australian player to win a Brownlow Medal. He started playing Australian Football when he was spotted playing Gaelic Football (in Ireland) by a coach of the Melbourne Football Club. He took a chance, moved to Australia to play Australian Football and then went on to play 244 games in a row. What an achievement!

  • 1996 – In 1996 the Fitzroy Football Club (the Lions) played its last game. It went on to merge with the Brisbane Bears, who then became known as the Brisbane Lions.

  • 1997 / 1999 – Clubs do not always keep the same name for ever. In 1997 the Footscray Football Club changed its name to the Western Bulldogs and in 1999 the North Melbourne Football Club became the Kangaroos (although it changed back in 2007).

  • 2011 / 12 – It is a time of change for the AFL; 2011 saw the introduction of the Gold Coast SUNS, and the Greater Western Sydney Giants played their first game in 2012.