|1877||The Victorian Football Association (VFA) is established with five senior metropolitan teams: Albert-park, Carlton, Hotham, Melbourne and St Kilda. Provincial teams including Geelong, Barwon, Ballarat, Ballarat Albion, Kyneton and Sandhurst compete as senior teams.||5*|
|1878||Junior clubs Essendon and West Melbourne are elvated to senior status.||7*|
|1879||Junior club South Melbourne are elevated to senior status. Provincial senior club Geelong begins playing more matches against metropolitan clubs, and effectively becomes one of the core group of the Association.||8|
|St Kilda begins the season as nominally senior, but reverts to junior and drops out entirely during the year.|
|1880||East Melbourne, which had been a senior club prior to the establishment of the VFA, returns to the senior ranks.||8|
|Albert-park merges into South Melbourne.|
|1881||West Melbourne leaves the VFA.||7|
|1882||During the season, East Melbourne folds and leaves the VFA.||6|
|1884||New senior club Fitzroy and former junior club Williamstown both enter the VFA.||8|
|1885||Former junior clubs Richmond and University enter the VFA.||10|
|1886||St Kilda returns from junior competition, and former junior clubs Footscray, Prahran and Port Melbourne all enter. New senior club South Williamstown, formed as a rival club to Williamstown owing to a dispute between the cricket and football clubs over the use of the Williamstown Cricket Ground for football, also enters.||15|
|1887||Provincial senior clubs Ballarat, Ballarat Imperial and South Ballarat all enter the main VFA competition.||18|
|1888||Prahran merges into St Kilda, and South Williamstown and merges into Williamstown.||16|
|Hotham is renamed North Melbourne.|
|1889||University leaves the VFA. The three Ballarat-based teams also cease to be fully associated with the VFA; senior clubs continued to play matches against them, but they did not count towards the premiership.||12|
|1892||Collingwood enter the VFA.||13|
|1897||Brunswick enters the VFA.||6|
|Carlton, Collingwood, Essendon, Fitzroy, Geelong, Melbourne, South Melbourne and St Kilda all leave to found the VFL.|
|1899||New senior club Prahran and former junior club West Melbourne enter the VFA.||8|
|1900||New senior club Essendon Town enter the VFA. (The Essendon club formerly in the VFA but now in the VFL was based in East Melbourne; Essendon Town was actually based in Essendon.)||9|
|1903||Former junior club Preston enters the VFA.||10|
|1905||Essendon Town becomes Essendon (but is commonly referred to as Essendon Association or Essendon A to distinguish it from the Essendon Football Club competing in the VFL).||10|
|1908||Brighton and Northcote enter the VFA.||10|
|Richmond leaves in favour of the VFL. North Melbourne and West Melbourne attempt to amalgamate and apply to join the VFL, but are rejected by the VFL, and are kicked out of the VFA. North Melbourne re-forms under a new committee and returns without missing a game, but West Melbourne never returns.|
|1912||Melbourne City enters the VFA.||10|
|Preston and Northcote amalgamate; the new club is initially called the Northcote and Preston Football Club or Northcote-Preston, but ultimately becomes known as simply Northcote.|
|1914||Hawthorn enter the VFA.||10|
|Melbourne City leaves the VFA.|
|1916||The VFA ceases competition during the height of World War One.||0|
|1918||The VFA recommences with six of the ten teams it left with: Brunswick, Footscray, North Melbourne, Northcote, Prahran and Port Melbourne.||6|
|1919||The other four teams: Brighton, Essendon Association, Hawthorn and Williamstown, re-enter.||10|
|1921||North Melbourne disbands leaves the VFA at mid-season, seeking to amalgamate with the Essendon VFL club.||9|
|1922||Geelong Association enters the VFA. After being blocked in its attempts to merge with Essendon League, North Melbourne re-forms under a new committee and re-joins the VFA.||10|
|Essendon Association disbands and leaves the VFA.|
|1925||Coburg enters the VFA. Public Service is admitted to the VFA, but fails to secure a home venue and never plays a game.||8|
|Footscray, Hawthorn and North Melbourne all leave the VFA in favour of the VFL.|
|1926||Preston and Camberwell enter. The Preston club that joined was the junior club that was affiliated with the senior club which competed from 1903 until 1911 before merging into Northcote, and is generally considered to be a continuation of the same club.||10|
|Brunswick leaves the VFA with two matches remaining in the season in protest of suspensions given to two of its players.|
|1927||Yarraville enter the VFA, and Brunswick re-forms under a new committee and returns prior to the season.||10|
|Geelong Association is kicked out of VFA.|
|1929||Oakleigh and Sandringham enter the VFA.||12|
|1934||Coburg, Preston, Brunswick, Port Melbourne, Northcote, Camberwell and Williamstown are all temporarily expelled from their home grounds by their local councils in protest at the VFA's decision to use Olympic Park as a central ground; the VFA and the councils resolved the dispute prior to the season.||12|
|1942||The VFA again ceases operations during the world war.||0|
|1945||VFA recommences with all teams.||12|
|1951||Box Hill and Moorabbin enter the VFA.||14|
|1958||Dandenong and Mordialloc enter the VFA.||16|
|1959||Sunshine enter the VFA.||16|
|Prahran expelled from the VFA after the local council leased its ground to someone else.|
|1960||Prahran re-enter after one year after securing a lease from the council.||17|
|1961||The VFA adopts a multi-division system including relegation and promotion between them.||18|
|Waverley Panthers enter the VFA.|
|1962||Brighton merge with the Federal League's South Caulfield to become the Brighton-Caulfield, based in Caulfield.||18|
|1963||Geelong West enter the VFA.||19|
|1964||Moorabbin suspended from the VFA three weeks before the start of the season, owing to its support of the VFL's St Kilda Football Club moving to Moorabbin.||18|
|1965||Werribee enter the VFA.||19|
|Brighton-Caulfield Penguins become Caulfield Bears.|
|1966||Frankston Dolphins enter the VFA.||20|
|1982||Springvale and Kilsyth enter the VFA.||22|
|1983||Berwick enter and Moorabbin re-enter.||24|
|1984||Yarraville folds and leave the VFA.||23|
|1985||Kilsyth leaves the VFA.||22|
|1988||Berwick, Caulfield, Moorabbin, Mordialloc, Northcote and Waverley all leave the VFA.||16|
|1989||The VFA divisions end starting this year.||14|
|Geelong West leaves before the start of the season, and Sunshine leaves in the middle.|
|1990||Brunswick merge with a non-VFA club to become Brunswick-Broadmeadows.||14|
|1991||Camberwell leaves at the start of this season, and Brunswick leaves in the middle.||12|
|1995||Prahran, Oakleigh and Dandenong all leave the VFA.||9|
|1996||The VFA changes its name to Victorian Football League, VFL, now that the old VFL is now the AFL. The Preston Bullants become known as the Preston Knights, owing to a merger with the TAC Cup under-18s team of the same name, changing their colours from red and white to white, blue and black.||11|
|North Ballarat and Traralgon enter the VFL.|
|1998||Bendigo enters the VFL.||11|
|Traralgon leaves the VFL.|
|1999||Coburg becomes Coburg-Fitzroy after a merger with the former AFL club.||11|
|2000||The VFL becomes strongly aligned with the AFL, and reserve players from AFL teams were now able to play with the VFL if their team was aligned with an existing VFL team. The initial alignments were: Box Hill with Hawthorn, Port Melbourne with Sydney, Werribee with the Western Bulldogs, Sandringham with Melbourne.||18|
|Carlton, Collingwood, Essendon, the Kangaroos, Geelong, Richmond and St Kilda all entered their reserves teams in the VFL.|
|The Preston Knights revert to the name Preston Bullants, and revert to their old colours.|
|2001||Coburg align with Richmond, Springvale align with St Kilda, Williamstown align with Collingwood, all of whose reserve grade teams drop out. The Kangaroos align with a new team to form the Murray Kangaroos.||16|
|Tasmania Devils enter the VFL.|
|Coburg-Fitzroy becomes Coburg, with the merger between Coburg and Fitzroy ending.|
|2003||The Bullants align with Carlton and Bendigo align with Essendon, both of whose reserves teams drop out. Port Melbourne and Sydney dis-align and the Kangaroos align in Sydney's place, ending the short career of the Murray Kangaroos.||13|
|2006||Port Melbourne end their affiliation with the Kangaroos. Port Melbourne exists as a stand alone team, while the Kangaroos become aligned with North Ballarat and Tasmania, with half of their reserve players fed into each club.||13|
|Springvale moves to Cranbourne and become the Casey Scorpions; the club retains the name "Springvale Football Club."|
|2008||The Western Bulldogs and Collingwood end their affiliations with Werribee and Williamstown respectively. The Western Bulldogs align with Williamstown in Collingwood's place. North Melbourne ends its partial affiliation with Tasmania, and partially affiliates with Werribee, retaining its partial affiliation with North Ballarat.||14|
|Collingwood re-enters its 'reserves' team into the VFL.|
|2009||St Kilda ends its affiliation with Casey, and becomes affiliated with Sandringham, and Melbourne ends its affiliation with Sandringham and becomes affiliated with Casey.||13|
|Tasmania Devils leave the league.|
|2010||Gold Coast joined the VFL. This was planned as a one-year stint in the VFL before the club played its inaugural season in the AFL in 2011.||14|
|2011||Gold Coast leaves the VFL to join the AFL.||13|
|2013||Essendon ends its affiliation with Bendigo, which continues as a stand-alone senior club.||14|
|Essendon re-enters its reserves team into the VFL.|
|2014||Richmond ends its affiliation with Coburg, which continues as a stand-alone senior club. The Western Bulldogs and Williamstown end their affiliation, with the latter continuing as a stand-alone senior club.||16|
|Richmond and Western bulldogs enter their reserves teams into the VFL; the latter team was known as Footscray.|
|Albert-park||Diminutives such as 'Parkites' were used.|
|Bendigo||Known as the Diggers from 1998 until 2002; then, in 2003 the club affiliated with AFL club Essendon, and took its colours and its nickname Bombers; in 2012, one year before the affiliation with Essendon was set to end, it changed its nickname to Gold.|
|Berwick||Initially known as Trojans, then later as Gippslanders.|
|Box Hill||Took the mascot of a white horse, from its local Whitehorse Road, upon joining the VFA, although this was used more as an emblem than a nickname. The diminutive 'Hills was sometimes used. The club briefly took the nickname Stranglers in the mid 1960s, then became the Mustangs around 1968. The club changed its nickname to Hawks, that of its AFL-affiliate Hawthorn, in 2000.|
|Brighton/Brighton-Caulfield||Known as the Penguins; the earliest contemporary source I've seen for this was in the Williamstown Chronicle in 1947.|
|Brunswick/Brunswick-Broadmeadows||Colloquially and quite commonly known as Brickfielders through the first decade of the 1900s, owing to the local brickworks. A modern source also gives Pottery Workers as an early nickname, although I've never seen a contemporary source to back this up. At some stage after adopting black and white colours, the club took the colloquial an later formal nickname of Magpies. The diminutive 'Wicks was also in very common use.|
|Camberwell||Often said to have been known as the Tricolours for much of its early time in the VFA, but the nickname does not seem to have had particularly wide use; certainly not compared to Footscray's use of the same nickname. The diminutive 'Wells was in occasional use. The club went on to formally take Cobras as its nickname; earliest reference I've seen in 1974, but I haven't looked very hard yet.|
|Carlton||Colloquially known as Blues until it later became official. Sometimes termed as Dark Blues or Navy Blues, or occasionally Carltonians.|
|Caulfield||Known as the Bears for its entire time in the VFA (after changing its name from Brighton-Caulfield to Caulfield in 1965).|
|Coburg||Known as the Lions; the earliest source I've seen is in the Williamstown Chronicle in the 1940s. After spending a year as the Coburg-Fitzroy Lions in the 1990s, due to a merger with Fitzroy, the club affiliated with AFL club Richmond and adopted its nickname, the Tigers, as its own. From 2014, when the affiliation ended, the club reverted to Lions. Also known colloquially by the diminutive 'Burgers.|
|Collingwood||Colloquially then later formally known as Magpies.|
|Dandenong||Formally took the nickname Dandies, with an upperclass gentleman as its emblem, but much more commonly known as the Redlegs; by the 1990s, Redlegs became its official nickname. Dandenong press used the term Red Legs, then Redlegs, from the club's first VFA season in 1958.|
|Essendon Town/Essendon (A.)||Known as Essendon Town from 1900 until 1904, then as Essendon from 1905 until 1921. Where it was not obvious from context, the club was known as Essendon (A.), Essendon (V.F.A.) or Essendon (Association) to distinguish it from the Essendon playing in the VFL; and in modern times, this is often styled as Essendon Association as if this were its formal name. The club became known as the Dreadnoughts or the Dreadnought team (and I've seen one reference to Windy Hill as "Dreadnought Hill"); contemporary sources for this name are scarce, but seen in both the local Essendon and Footscray newspapers from around 1911 until 1914, suggesting it was a nickname which was widely known but not widely used; based on the timing, I could speculate that this nickname may have had something to do with the Essendon Council's prominent role in the purchase of the HMAS Australia dreadnought in 1909. Like the League club, the diminutive 'Dons was sometimes used.|
|Essendon (L.)||Colloquially known as 'the Same Old Essendon', or simply the Same Old; this nickname seems to have first emerged in media (the local North Melbourne Advertiser was one of the first to popularize it) around 1889 from the lyrics of a victory song played live by a band of supporters at matches; it is sometimes said that the nickname was developed to distinguish it from the Essendon Town Football Club, but this is clearly false from the timing.|
|Fitzroy||Some early references to the team as the Reds, but mostly known as the Maroons.|
|Footscray||Known mostly as the Imperials or Tricolours during its time in the VFA, due to its red, white and blue colours. Also known colloquially as Saltwater or the Saltwater Team around 1900, a common name for the town of Footscray at the time due to the saltwater river running through it. After joining the VFL it took Bulldogs as a nickname, and has used this nickname for its reserves team.|
|Frankston||Based on the Frankston Standard, the club was known as the Bombers in 1966 (which I believe may have been the club's MPFL nickname), then as the Saints in 1967 (presumably because it wore the same guernsey as the VFL's St Kilda); in 1968, it took the nickname Dolphins, which it has kept since. Dolphins was suggested as a possible nickname in the Sporting Globe in 1966.|
|Geelong||Colloquially known as the Pivotonians, from the nickname 'the Pivot' which was then in common usage for the city of Geelong. Changed to Cats after joining the VFL, and have used this nickname officially since its reserves team has joined the VFL.|
|Geelong West||Known as the Roosters. Earliest reference I've seen to this was in the Age in 1968.|
|Gold Coast||Entered the VFL in 2010 without a nickname, before announcing its nickname as the Suns at midseason.|
|Hawthorn||Known in early days as the Mayblooms, or colloquially as the Mustard Pots owing to their colours.||Hotham/North Melbourne||Known as Hotham until 1887, and North Melbourne thereafter. Colloquially known as Northerners and the Blue and Whites in early years. At some stage became known as the Shinboners, although I've not seen a contemporary source during its time in the VFA. After crossing to the VFL became known as the Kangaroos, and used this name alone for the sole season its reserves team played in the VFL.|
|Kilsyth||Known as the Cougars. This term did not refer to sexually aggressive middle-aged women at the time.|
|Melbourne||Colloquially known as Reds or Redlegs, and later Fuschias while in the VFA. Later known as Demons after crossing to the VFL. For all of its time in the VFA, the club was formally a part of the Melbourne Cricket Club, and newspapers would sometimes style the team as MCC.|
|Melbourne City||Some sources talk about Melbourne City being known as the Citizens, which is no more than a generic demonym for City. The diminutive 'City' was often used.|
|Moorabbin||Known officially as the Kangaroos or variations thereof through its entire time in the VFA. Badges at the time favoured Kangas over the full form or the other diminutive 'Roos.|
|Mordialloc||Known officially as the Bloods or Bloodhounds, with the dog serving as its emblem, for most of its time in the VFA; the earliest contemporary reference I've seen was in the Frankston Standard in 1967.|
|Murray||Known as the Kangaroos|
|North Ballarat||Known as the Roosters.|
|Northcote||Modern sources refer to Northcote as originally having the nickname Brickfielders, in reference to the local brickworks; I've never personally seen a contemporary newspaper source to back this up (in contrast to Brunswick, for which I've seen several contemporary newspaper sources identifying that club as the Brickfielders), so I'm not convinced it's true. In the 1940s, there were a couple of isolated references to Northcote as the Rosellas in the Williamstown Chronicle, but this nickname appears to have falled quickly out of disuse. The Northcote Leader most commonly used the diminutive 'Cotes and occasionally the colour-based Green & Golds. The club formally adopted Dragons as its nickname later, and used it until it left the VFA; the first year this was used in the Northcote Leader was 1974.|
|Oakleigh||Oakleigh seems to have been known colloquially by the diminutive Oaks for much of its time in the VFA – I have found references of this in the Williamstown Chronicle in 1946, but in quote marks indicating this was not in wide use at the time – and may also have been known formally by this name for a time as well, judging by photographs of team shield badges with Oaks as the nickname. The club has also been known formally as the Devils, which was represented on a badge purported to be from 1950 as a Tasmanian devil, and in promotional posters from the 1980s as the stereotypical cartoon devil, with horns and a small evil moustache; but it seems the Oaks may have been a more popular nickname in common usage.|
|Port Melbourne||Known diminutively as Ports or Port or demonymically as Portonians for much of the early part of its history. Its formal nickname today is Borough or Boroughs. This appears to have been styled as Burras, from the first time I've seen it (in the Williamstown Chronicle in 1933 – quite an early nickname) until at least the 1960s, and I have memories of seeing it accompanied by an anthropomorphized kookaburra as a mascot. I'm not sure yet when the longer spelling became more common. The usual story here is that the area of Port Melbourne was a borough at the time that the club joined the VFA, later becoming a town in 1893 and a city in 1919, and that the club's nickname came from the time as a borough; given the timing, the fact that it's never been abbreviated as 'Burras (which might have happened if Kookaburras came before Borough), this seems feasible enough, but it's very difficult to corroborate. It also fits well with the club's rivalry with Williamstown, the latter being known as 'Town, and the former quite conceivably as Borough. I've not seen Burras or Boroughs in any media other than the Williamstown Chronicle prior to the 1970s. – Ports still being much more common during this time. Certainly nothing tangible was offered as a nickname on the 1950 Argus badges.|
A delightful, although very specific, name used several times in Williamstown press during the 1910s was 'Tothersiders, reflecting the fact that Port Melbourne was on immediate opposite side of the lower Yarra; but this name was only appropriate in Williamstown.
|Prahran||Known as the Two Blues, sometimes styled as Two-blues. I have seen one reference to this used as a nickname in the Argus as early as 1913, but it doesn't appear very often in print even up to the mid-1960s. There is a photograph of a badge, purported to be from 1950, showing a small blue and white bird as a mascot; not being a bird-watcher, I have no idea what sort of bird this was, nor have I ever seen any reference to Prahran as taking an ornithological name.|
|Preston/Northern Blues||Initially known as Preston. The club is generally said to have come by the colloquial nickname of Bullants from a radio description of the playing style of its small players in the late 1930s; however it came about it, the Williamstown Chronicle, which embraced VFA club nicknames quite early, was using the nickname by 1940, and it later became the official nickname. The club became the Preston Knights in 1996, after merging with the local TAC Cup side of the same name, then became the Northern Bullants in 2000. In 2012, it became the Northern Blues, adopting the nickname of its long-term AFL-affiliate, Carlton.|
|Richmond||There are few references of any nickname for Richmond during its time in the VFA; after joining the VFL it took the formal nickname Tigers, and uses this for its reserves team in the VFL.|
|Sandringham||Known officially as the Zebras for almost if not its entire history, with the earliest newspaper reference I can find coming from 1937. The diminutive 'Sandy' was unsurprisingly common.|
|St Kilda||Colloquially then later officially known as the Saints, although few contemporary references to this during its time in the VFA.|
|South Melbourne||Colloquially known as Southerners, Red and Whites or Scarlet and Whites.|
|Springvale/Casey||Initially known as Springvale, and formally by the diminutive nickname Vales. At some stage, the nickname changed to Scorpions; in 2006, the club moved to Cranbourne and became Casey Scorpions.|
|Sunshine||Occasionally known by the diminutive 'Shiners over the first few years, the club adopted Panthers as its nickname in 1962. Not knowing this, Waverley adopted Panthers as its nickname in 1963, and spent a large amount of money marketing the nickname before finding out Sunshine had taken the name first; I'm not sure exactly how or when this was resolved, but it was clear that Waverley had spent more money on the name than Sunshine, so I suspect Sunshine backed down voluntarily. The club adopted Crows as its formal nickname, and kept this for the rest of its time in the VFA; my first sighting of Crows as a nickname was in 1966 in the Sunshine Advocate (it was not used in that newspaper in 1965), so I suspect 1966 was the year it was adopted.|
|Tasmania||Known as the Devils.|
|Traralgon||Known as the Maroons.|
|University||Colloquially known by various academia-related names, e.g. Students, but nothing which really constitutes a team nickname.|
|Waverley||Formally adopted the nickname Panthers in 1963, although not without a dispute with Sunshine over the use of the name.|
|Werribee||Currently known as the Tigers. I'm not sure how long this has been official; I have seen unofficial references to the club being known by the diminutive and colour-appropriate 'Bees in its early years, but wouldn't vouch for their veracity.|
|West Melbourne||Sometimes known by the diminutive Wests.|
|Williamstown||Known colloquially as the Villagers, Seasiders, and less often some other generic nicknames for seaside dwellers; as well as obligatory references to its colours, initially Black and Yellow, then later Blue and Yellow. Formally adopted Seagulls as a nickname in the 1930s. Its name has also been abbreviated since the 1890s to 'Town, and the abbreviation had wide use in media throughout much of its history, and Towners has been an occasional offshoot of this.|
|Yarraville||Purported to have been known mostly by the diminutive Villains during the club's early period, although this does not appear to have had wide enough use for newspaper coverage. The club appears to have adopted Eagles as an official nickname during the 1940s.|
1. PORT MELBOURNE (16): 1897, 1901, 1922, 1940-41 (2), 1947, 1953, 1964, 1966, 1974, 1976-77 (2), 1980-81-82 (3), 2011.
2. WILLIAMSTOWN (13): 1907, 1921, 1939, 1945, 1949, 1954-56 (3), 1958-59 (2), 1986, 1990, 2003.
3. SANDRINGHAM (10): 1946, 1962, 1985, 1992, 1994, 1997, 2000, 2004-06 (3).
4. GEELONG (10): Sr 1878-80 (3), 1882-84 (3), 1886; Res 2002, 2007, 2012.
5. FOOTSCRAY (9): 1898-1900 (3), 1908, 1913, 1919-20 (2), 1923-24 (2).
6. HOTHAM/NORTH MELBOURNE (6): 1903-04 (2), 1910, 1914-15 (2), 1918.
7. OAKLEIGH (6): 1930-31 (2), 1950, 1952, 1960, 1972.
8. COBURG (6): 1926-28 (3), 1979, 1988-89 (2).
9. SOUTH MELBOURNE (5): 1881, 1885, 1888-90 (3).
10. SPRINGVALE (5): 1987, 1995-96 (2), 1998-99 (2).
11. PRAHRAN (5): 1937, 1951, 1970, 1973, 1978.
12. NORTHCOTE (5): 1929, 1932-34 (3), 1936.
13. ESSENDON LEAGUE (4): 1891-94 (4).
14. PRESTON/NORTHERN BULLANTS/BLUES (4): 1968-69 (2), 1983-84 (2).
15. DANDENONG (3): 1967, 1971, 1991.
16. BRUNSWICK (3): 1909, 1925, 1938.
17. NORTH BALLARAT (3): 2008-10 (3).
18. CARLTON (2): 1877, 1887.
19. MOORABBIN (2): 1957, 1963.
20. ESSENDON ASSOCIATION (2): 1911-12 (2).
21. RICHMOND (2): 1902, 1905.
22. YARRAVILLE (2): 1935, 1961.
23. BOX HILL (2): 2001, 2013.
24. COLLINGWOOD (1): 1896.
25. FITZROY (1): 1985.
26. WEST MELBOURNE (1): 1906.
27. GEELONG WEST (1): 1975.
28. WAVERLEY (1): 1965.
29. WERRIBEE (1): 1993.
30. BRIGHTON/CAULFIELD (1): 1948.
Return to Home Page