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Queensland Footy History

Qld Footy History Overview
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The AFL Competition - Overview and History

The AFL Competition - Overview

The Australian Football League, commonly referred to as the AFL, is Australia’s national Australian rules football competition.

Eighteen teams currently take part in the AFL. Of these, ten are based in Victoria, two in South Australia, two in Western Australia, two in Queensland and two in New South Wales.

Each season, there are twenty-three rounds of premiership matches known as ‘home-and-away’ games or the ‘minor round’, in which each team plays each other either once or twice, with each team having one bye. It is commonly accepted that ideally each team would play each other an equal number of times during the home-and-away season. However, playing each other just once would result in seventeen rounds, considered far too few games to satisfy supporters, sponsors and television networks, while playing each other twice would give thirty-four rounds, considered far too many games for footballers to physically endure. After the home-and-away matches, the top eight teams progress to the finals which take place over a further four weeks, culminating in the Grand Final which is traditionally played on the last Saturday in September.

Carlton and Essendon have each won sixteen premierships, the most of all the clubs. Collingwood is next with fifteen.

The governing body of the competition is also known as the ‘AFL’, and its roles are many and varied. These include administration of the national competition, promotion and development of the game across the country, and provision of funds to local competitions.

The AFL clubs have traditionally used a member-based system of ownership in which the members, rather than shareholders, make decisions. Private ownership of footy clubs has been the exception rather than the norm over the years. Sydney became the first club to be privately owned when Dr Geoffrey Edelsten bought the club in July 1985. Shortly after, during their days at Carrara, the Brisbane Bears were owned by Christopher Skase, then Reuben Pelerman, whose intervention rescued the club from a likely demise. Both clubs had reverted to traditional member-based structures by mid-1993.

And in late October 2008, North Melbourne reverted to a member-based structure after 22 years of private ownership.

As at 30th June 2011, there was a combined total of 650,373 members in the then-seventeen AFL clubs, translating to an average membership of over 38,250 per club.

The AFL website is probably the best resource for keeping up-to-date with the competition and all of the other AFL goings-on. Their home page is here:

AFL website home page

With a slightly Queensland perspective, the Brisbane newspaper The Courier-Mail’s online AFL section is also very good:

The Courier-Mail AFL section

The AFL Competition - History

The competition known as the AFL, the Australian Football League, first took place in 1897.  The league, which was originally named ‘VFL’ (‘Victorian Football League’), had been formed in 1896, and comprised eight Victorian teams: Carlton, Collingwood, Essendon, Fitzroy, Geelong, Melbourne, St Kilda and South Melbourne.

Up to and including 1981, by which time twelve teams took part in the competition, all of the league’s teams had been based in Victoria.  The relocation of the Swans of South Melbourne to Sydney in 1982 began a national expansion of the competition that would see all but one of Australia’s states represented a decade later.  A change of name from ‘VFL’ to ‘AFL’ in 1990 was an important step in the process.

The competition’s history has been very well documented in paper, video and digital forms, and it is not my intention to ‘reinvent the wheel’ on this website.  The abovementioned AFL website is an excellent resource for all matters relating to the history of the competition.


Last Modified:  30th March 2012

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