1879 VFA season

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1879 VFA premiership season
Teams 8
Premiers Geelong
(2nd premiership)

The 1879 Victorian Football Association season was the third season of the Australian rules football competition. The premiership was won by the Geelong Football Club. It was the club's second VFA premiership, and the second in a sequence of three consecutive premierships won from 1878 to 1880; for the second consecutive season, Geelong was unbeaten during the year.

Association membership[edit]

The South Melbourne Football Club entered the senior ranks of the Association in 1879; and, while St Kilda was nominally a senior club to begin the year, it was in a weakened state and dropped out of competition midway through the year.[1]

The status of the Geelong Football Club also changed subtly in 1879. It had been a senior Association club since 1877, but it had played primarily against other provincial teams during 1877 and 1878. In its first premiership year of 1878, it played only four senior matches against metropolitan clubs;[2] in 1879, it played nine senior matches against metropolitan clubs. As such, although there was no formal change in its senior status, Geelong effectively shifted from being a provincial team, to being a provincially based team competing in the metropolitan competition.

1879 VFA premiership[edit]

The 1879 premiership was won by the Geelong Football Club, the club's second in succession, finishing the season unbeaten with fifteen wins and one match, against West Melbourne, being abandoned as a draw five minutes from half-time after torrential rain swept the ground. Carlton finished second with sixteen wins and drew two draws from twenty-two games, and new senior club South Melbourne finished third.[1]

Club senior records[edit]

The below table details the playing records of the eight senior clubs in all matches during the 1879 season. Two sets of results are given:

  • Senior results: based only upon games played against other VFA senior clubs
  • Total results: including senior games, and games against intercolonial, up-country and junior clubs.

The clubs are listed in the order in which they were ranked in the Australasian newspaper. The VFA had no formal process by which the clubs were ranked, so the below order should be considered indicative only, particularly since the fixturing of matches was not standardised; however, the top three placings were later acknowledged in publications including the Football Record and are considered official.[3]

1879 VFA Results
Senior Results Total Results
1 Geelong (P) 9 8 0 1 16 15 0 1 61 10
2 Carlton 13 8 4 1 22 16 4 2 82 17
3 South Melbourne 9 5 4 0 18 14 4 0 35 13
Melbourne 15 6 6 3 21 11 6 4 60 42
West Melbourne 11 3 4 4 19 11 4 4 29 29
Albert-park 5 2 1 2 16 8 5 3 31 14
Essendon 10 2 6 2 17 6 6 5 30 30
Hotham 11 1 7 3 17 6 7 4 19 28
Key: P = Played, W = Won, L = Lost, D = Drawn, GF = Goals For, GA = Goals Against, (P) = Premiers Source:[1][4]


Intercolonial matches[edit]

During 1879, a team representing the South Australian Football Association) toured Victoria, and played two intercolonial matches against an Association representative team; the first on a public holiday Tuesday, and the other on the following Saturday. The games were the first ever intercolonial matches between colony representative teams.

1879 Intercolonial Matches
Tuesday, 1 July Victoria 7 def. South Australia 0 East Melbourne Cricket Ground (crowd: 10,000) [5]
Saturday, 5 July Victoria 4 def. South Australia 1 East Melbourne Cricket Ground (crowd: 6,000) [6]

Notable events[edit]

  • A night match was staged between Melbourne and Carlton on Wednesday 13 August at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. The match was played under electric light, a new invention of which proponents were keen to display the effectiveness, and which had been successfully trialled for night football matches in England during the previous year.[7] The trial in Melbourne proved much less successful, as the field was unevenly illuminated, making it impossible for spectators to see much of the play. A white football was used to make the ball more visible, except for a brief period in the first half when the initial ball deflated and a normal football – which was barely visible in the dim light – was used until it could be replaced. Carlton won the match, which did not count towards the premiership, by the score 3–0 before a crowd of around 5,000.[8][9][10] The match was the second night football match played in Melbourne: a military match between Collingwood Rifles and East Melbourne Artillery had been played on Tuesday 5 August before a crowd of 10,000.[11]
  • In the 27 September match between Melbourne and Carlton, Melbourne intended to field Sandilands, a former Geelong player it claimed had moved to Melbourne, entitling him to a residential clearance; Carlton objected, on the understanding that Sandilands was en route to another colony and was therefore not entitled to the residential clearance. When the two clubs reached an impasse on the matter of Sandilands' inclusion, Melbourne left the ground and the match was called off, despite 8,000 spectators already being present.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Peter Pindar (18 October 1879). "The Football Season of 1879 – Part 1". The Australasian. XXVII (707). Melbourne, VIC. p. 493. 
  2. ^ Peter Pindar (12 October 1878). "The Football Season of 1878". The Australasian. XXV (654). Melbourne, VIC. pp. 461–2. 
  3. ^ Caroline Wilson (20 June 2014). "History of the AFL could be turned on its head". The Age. Melbourne, VIC. Retrieved 18 October 2014. 
  4. ^ Peter Pindar (25 October 1879). "The Football Season of 1879 – Part 2". The Australasian. XXVII (708). Melbourne, VIC. pp. 524–5. 
  5. ^ "Intercolonial Football Match". The Argus. Melbourne, VIC. 2 July 1879. p. 5. 
  6. ^ "Intercolonial Football Match". The Argus. Melbourne, VIC. 7 July 1879. p. 6. 
  7. ^ "America – substitute for gas". Advocate. Melbourne, VIC. 4 January 1879. p. 7. 
  8. ^ "Football match by electric light". The Age. Melbourne, VIC. 14 August 1879. p. 3. 
  9. ^ "Football by electric light". The Argus. Melbourne, VIC. 14 August 1879. p. 7. 
  10. ^ Peter Pindar (16 August 1879). "Football Gossip". The Australasian. XXVII (698). Melbourne, VIC. p. 204. 
  11. ^ "Football by the electric light". The Illustrated Australian News (280). Melbourne, VIC. 30 August 1879. p. 139. 
  12. ^ Peter Pindar (4 October 2014). "Football Gossip". The Australasian. XXVII (705). Melbourne, VIC. p. 428.