VFL to the AFL
The initial season of
1897 saw the VFL consist of eight clubs namely
Carlton, Collingwood, Essendon, Fitzroy, Geelong, Melbourne, Saint Kilda and
South Melbourne. In 1908 they were joined by Richmond and University. After 51
consecutive defeats University decided to merge with Melbourne at the end of the
1914 season. 1925
saw the admission of three new teams being Footscray, North Melbourne and
Hawthorn, to bring the competition number to twelve teams. The league was to
remain unchanged for another 57 years.
|The above cover is number one in
a series of fourteen covers produced by Frankston stamps, with the approval of
Australia Post and the VFL, all issued with the 1982 VFL Premiers Flag
Commemorative Postmark (PM 929) and the 27c Commonwealth Games Weight Lifting
Stamp. Twelve showed the logo of each of the twelve VFL teams and a Carlton
Cover was also overprinted with "Premiers 1982" cachet.
saw the biggest change in the competition. South Melbourne had struggled both on
and off the field and had not played in a Grand Final since 1945. The suburb it
represented had changed and it was left with a small supporter base. The VFL
board decided to move the Swans to Sydney, Australia's largest city but
dominated by rugby league. It also embarked on private ownership with the
licence being sold to a medical entrepreneur, Dr Geoffrey Edelsten in 1985. The
VFL had embarked on the development of a national competition.
1987 saw the introduction of a team from
Brisbane, another rugby league state, and again privately owned by Christopher
Skase of Quintex fame. It was joined by a team from the football strong state of
Western Australia, namely The West Coast Eagles.
Not all initiatives were successful. 1989
saw the failure of a VFL backed merger of Fitzroy and Footscray with resulting
bitterness that still persists, particularly towards the administration. It also
saw the failure of the Quintex Skase empire with the Bears suppositively having
lost $27 million. The new owner Rueben Pelerman lost another $3.3 million over
the next two years and the Brisbane club decided to revert to a membership based
financial structure. The Sydney Swans owners experience similar financial
problems and it also reverts to a membership based financial structure.
Australian Football's flirting with private ownership failed.
After 93 years in 1990 the VFL decided to
change its name to the Australian Football League (AFL) to further represent its
national identity. 1991 saw the introduction
of the Adelaide Crows and now all the mainland states were represented in the
AFL. 1995 saw the introduction of a second
Western Australian team, the Fremantle Dockers.
In a complete circle, at the end of 1995, the VFA decided to change its name to
the VFL and restructure its competition to form the major state based
1996, the 100th season of the VFL/AFL saw
the successful merger of the Brisbane Bears and Fitzroy Lions to become the
Brisbane Lions. It also saw the failure of a merger between Hawthorn and
In 1990 Port made a bold move to join the AFL as South Australia's first team
after the SANFL Directors had turned down an offer from the AFL. This triggered
the formation of the Adelaide Crows. In 1996 Port Adelaide was named as
the next expansion team but only if another AFL team folded. Fortunately for
them Fitzroy's financial problems led to that very option and Port Power entered
the AFL in 1997.