Melbourne Football Club
The Melbourne Football Club, nicknamed the Demons, is a professional Australian rules football club, playing in the Australian Football League. It is named after and based in the city of Melbourne and plays its home games at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Melbourne is the world's oldest professional club of any football code; the club's origins can be traced to an 1858 letter in which Tom Wills, captain of the Victoria cricket team, calls for the formation of a "foot-ball club" with its own "code of laws". An informal Melbourne team played that winter and was formed in May 1859 when Wills and three other members codified "The Rules of the Melbourne Football Club"—the basis of Australian rules football; the club was a dominant force in the earliest Australian rules football competition, the Challenge Cup, was a foundation member of the Victorian Football Association in 1877 and the Victorian Football League in 1896, which became the national Australian Football League. Melbourne has won 12 VFL/AFL premierships, the latest in 1964.
The club celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2008 by naming "150 Heroes" as well as creating a birthday logo which appeared on its official guernsey. The football club has been a sporting section of the Melbourne Cricket Club since 2009, having been associated with the MCC between 1889 and 1980. In the winter and spring of 1858, a loosely organised football team known as Melbourne played in a series of scratch matches in the parklands outside the Melbourne Cricket Ground; this team was captained by Tom Wills, a prominent athlete and captain of the Victoria cricket team, who, on 10 July that year, had a letter of his published by the Melbourne-based Bell's Life in Victoria and Sporting Chronicle, in which he calls for the formation of a "foot-ball club" with a "code of laws" to keep cricketers fit during winter. Other figures associated with this embryonic Melbourne side include cricketers Jerry Bryant, William Hammersley and J. B. Thompson, teacher Thomas H. Smith. During meetings held on 17 and 21 May 1859, Hammersley and Smith met near the MCG at the Parade Hotel, owned by Bryant, to draft "The Rules of the Melbourne Football Club".
The resulting ten codified rules are the laws. The first mention of an interclub match played under the new code was between Melbourne and South Yarra in July 1859, with Hammersley as Melbourne's inaugural captain. In 1861, Melbourne participated in the Caledonian Society's Challenge Cup, but lost the trophy to the Melbourne University Football Club; the club pushed for its rules to be the accepted rules, however many of the early suburban matches were played under compromised rules decided between the captains of the competing clubs. Although some Melbourne players and officials were associated with the cricket club, the football club was not allowed to use the MCG, so it used a nearby field at Yarra Park as its home ground instead. By 1866 several other clubs had adopted an updated version of Melbourne's rules, drafted at a meeting chaired by Wills' cousin, H. C. A. Harrison. Harrison was a key figure in the early years of the club. Due to his popular reputation and administrative efforts, he was named "Father of Australian Football" in 1908, the year of the sport's golden jubilee.
During the 1870s, Melbourne fielded teams in the Seven South Yarra Cup competitions. After a visit to England by one of the club's officials, the colours of red and green were adopted by the club. Shortly afterward, the club began wearing a predominantly red strip and became informally known by supporters as the "Redlegs"; the name "Redlegs" was coined after a Melbourne official returned from a trip to England with one set of red and another of blue woollen socks. Melbourne wore the red set while the blue set was given to the Carlton Football Club; this may be the source of Carlton's nickname,'The Blueboys'. In 1877, the club became a foundation member of the Victorian Football Association. During the same year the club took part in the first interstate football match involving a South Australian side, defeating the home side 1-0. During this time, the club was known as the "Fuchsias". Melbourne never won a VFA premiership, although they were one of the stronger teams in the competition, finishing runner-up four times, to Carlton in 1877, to Geelong in 1878 and twice to Essendon in 1893 and 1894.
In 1889, the MFC was reincorporated into the MCC, for many years the two organisations remained unhappily linked. The MFC's close association with the MCC allowed it to claim the MCG as its home ground and gave it access to a wealthy membership base, but Melbourne's reputation as an "establishment" club was not always an advantage. MCC members have the automatic right to attend all events at the ground, including MFC football games; this meant many potential members had a reduced incentive to join the football club, Melbourne's membership remained one of the lowest in the competition. In 1897, the MFC was part of the breakaway Victorian Football League, has been a part of the competition since; the team became known as the "Redlegs". This nickname is still used by some members and supporter groups within the club. In 1900 Melbourne won its first VFL premiership. Melbourne's greatest player of these early years of the VFL was Ivor Warne-Smith, who in 1926 won the club's first Brownlow Medal, the League's annual award for the fairest and best player.
In that year Melbourne won its second flag. Warne-Smith went on to win a second Brownlow in 1928. Frank'Checker' Hughes became Melbourne's coach in 1933, a
Glossary of Australian rules football
This list is an alphabetical glossary of Australian rules football terms and slang. While some of these entries are shared with other sports, Australian rules football has developed a unique and rich terminology. Where words in a sentence are defined elsewhere in this article, they appear in italics. 1-2: an action where a player handpasses to a teammate, who handpasses back. 12-10 Rule: A rule in the VFL concerning the selection of AFL-listed players in teams with an AFL affiliate team. When a team, affiliated with an AFL team plays against a team, not affiliated with an AFL team, the affiliated team must play at least 12 VFL-listed players and no more than 10 AFL-listed players; the 12-10 rule does not apply when two AFL-affiliated teams play each other, in those games, teams may play as many AFL-listed players as they wish. This rule has since been abolished. 19th man: at a time in the game before the substitute bench was introduced in 1930, one reserve player was named in addition to the 18 players who started the game on the ground.
These players could enter the game only if one of the original 18 did not return. This was extended to the 20th man when a second reserve was introduced in 1946. Free interchange of the 19th and 20th players has been allowed in the VFL since 1978; this can refer to the philosophy of the South Australian crowd being the 19th man for the Adelaide Crows, who have retired the number 19 guernsey, sell sporting merchandise with the number 19 on it. Advantage paid: umpiring decision in which play continues after an infringement if the team with the ball is infringed upon. AFL: Australian Football League; this acronym is used colloquially as an alternative name for the sport when distinguishing it from other football codes in Queensland and New South Wales. After the siren: a set shot for goal. All-Australian: a player, chosen in the best team of the AFL competition each year, the All-Australian Team. Angle: the geometric angle formed by an imaginary line between a player taking a set shot and the centre of the goals, another imaginary line perpendicular to the goal line.
So, a player with "no angle" is taking a kick from directly in front. Arena: the playing surface. Assist: to kick or handpass to a player who scores either a goal or a behind; the term is common across many world sports. Australian football: name used by the AFL for the sport. Bag: colloquialism for five or more goals scored by one player. Ball!: yelled by spectators when an opposition player is tackled in possession of the ball. Short for "holding the ball". Ball burster: colloquialism for a massive kick a torpedo punt which travels over 70 metres. Ball-up: the act of a field umpire putting the ball back into play, either by throwing it vertically upwards into the air, or by bouncing the ball in such a way that it mimics the throwing action. See bounce-down. A ball-up is required at the start of each quarter, after a goal is scored or to restart the game from neutral situations in the field of play. Banana: see checkside. Banner: a large crêpe paper and sticky-tape banner that players run through prior to a match.
Barrack: to cheer for a team. A fan is known as a "barracker", while to ask someone who they barrack for is to ask which team they support. Barrel: see torpedo. Baulk: a manoeuvre where a player holds the ball out to the side in one hand runs in the other direction to evade a defender. Behind: a score worth one point, earned by putting the ball between a goal post and a behind post, or by the ball hitting a goal post, or by the ball being touched prior to passing between the goalposts. Behind posts: two shorter vertical posts 19.2m apart on the goal line at each end of the ground, centred about the taller goal posts. Bench: the interchange area; the "bench" refers to the seat used by the players in this area. Best on ground: player judged the best player taking part in any game. Sometimes referred to as BOG, pronounced "bee-oh-gee". Big dance: colloquial term for a grand final. Blinder: an exceptional performance by a player or team. Bounce-down: the act of a field umpire putting the ball back into play by bouncing the ball in such a way that it mimics a vertical throw.
See ball-up. Boundary line: the line drawn on the ground to delimit the field of play. Boundary throw-in: the act of throwing the ball back into play by the boundary umpire; the boundary umpire throws the ball backwards over their head. This is used to restart play from neutral situations. Boundary umpire: an official who patrols the boundary line, indicating when it has crossed the line, who executes boundary throw-in to return the ball to play. There are two of these umpires per game, one on each side of the oval, but there will be four in top grade games. Break: short for "break in play". Brownlow: the Brownlow Medal is awarded the week of the Grand Final to the player judged to be the fairest and best player in the league for the season, based on accumulated votes awarded by the field umpires at the conclusion of each match during the season. Bump: a contact
Australian Football League
The Australian Football League is the pre-eminent professional competition of Australian rules football. Through the AFL Commission, the AFL serves as the sport's governing body, is responsible for controlling the laws of the game; the league was founded as the Victorian Football League as a breakaway from the previous Victorian Football Association, with its inaugural season commencing in 1897. Comprising only teams based in the Australian state of Victoria, the competition's name was changed to the Australian Football League for the 1990 season, after expanding to other states throughout the 1980s; the league consists of 18 teams spread over five of Australia's six states. Matches have been played in all states and mainland territories of Australia, as well as in New Zealand and China to promote the sport abroad; the AFL season consists of a pre-season competition, followed by a 23-round regular season, which runs during the Australian winter. The team with the best record after the home-and-away series is awarded the "minor premiership."
The top eight teams play off in a four-round finals series, culminating in the AFL Grand Final, held at the Melbourne Cricket Ground each year. The grand final winner is termed the "premiers", is awarded the premiership cup; the current premiers are the West Coast Eagles. The Victorian Football Association was established in 1877 and went on to become Victoria's major Australian rules football competition. During the 1890s, an off-field power struggle occurred between the VFA's stronger and weaker clubs, the former seeking greater administrative control commensurate with their relative financial contribution to the game; this came to a head in 1896 when it was proposed that gate profits, which were always lower in matches involving the weaker clubs, be shared amongst all teams in the VFA. After it was intimated that the proposal would be put to a vote, six of the strongest clubs—Collingwood, Fitzroy, Geelong and South Melbourne—seceded from the VFA, invited Carlton and St Kilda to join them in founding a new competition, the Victorian Football League.
The remaining VFA clubs—Footscray, North Melbourne, Port Melbourne and Williamstown—were given the opportunity to compete as a junior sides at a level beneath the VFL, but rejected the offer and remained for the 1897 VFA season. The VFL's inaugural season occurred in 1897, it made several innovations early on to entice the public's interest, including an annual finals tournament, rather than awarding the premiership to the team with the best record through the season. Although the VFL and the VFA continued to compete for spectator interest for many years, the VFL established itself as the premier competition in Victoria. In 1908, the league expanded to ten teams, with Richmond crossing from the VFA and University Football Club from the Metropolitan Football Association. University, after three promising seasons, finished last each year from 1911 until 1914, including losing 51 matches in a row; as a result, the club withdrew from the VFL at the end of 1914. Beginning sporadically during the late 1890s and from 1907 until World War I, the VFL premier and the premier of the South Australian Football League met in a playoff match for the Championship of Australia.
South Australia's Port Adelaide was the most successful club of the competition winning three titles during the period along with an earlier victory. In 1925, the VFL expanded from nine teams to twelve, with Footscray and North Melbourne each crossing from the VFA. North Melbourne and Hawthorn remained weak in the VFL for a long period. Although North Melbourne would become the first of the 1925 expansion sides to reach a Grand Final in 1950 it was Footscray that adapted to the VFL with the most ease of the three clubs, by 1928 were well off the bottom of the ladder. Between the years of 1927 and 1930, Collingwood became the first, only VFL team, to win four successive Premierships. In 1952, the VFL hosted ` National Day'. Matches were played at the Sydney Cricket Ground, Brisbane Exhibition Ground, North Hobart Oval, Albury Sports Ground and Victorian country towns Yallourn and Euroa. Footscray became the first of the 1925 expansion teams to win the premiership in 1954. Melbourne became a powerhouse during the 1950s and early 1960s under coach Norm Smith and star player Ron Barassi.
The club contested seven consecutive grand finals from 1954 to 1960, winning five premierships, including three in a row from 1955 to 1957. Television coverage began with direct telecasts of the final quarter permitted. At first, several channels competed through broadcasting different games. However, when the VFL found that television was reducing crowds, it decided that no coverage was to be allowed for 1960. In 1961, replays were introduced although direct telecasts were permitted in Melbourne. In 1959, the VFL planned the first purpose built mega-stadium, VFL Park, to give it some independence from the Melbourne Crick
Michael Strickland Gardiner is a former Australian rules footballer who played for the West Coast Eagles and the St Kilda Football Club in the Australian Football League. From Albany, Western Australia, Gardiner played for the Claremont Football Club in the West Australian Football League before being drafted by West Coast with the number-one pick in the 1996 National Draft, he made his debut for the club in 1997, over the next seasons replaced Ryan Turnbull as the club's first-choice ruckman. After being named in the All-Australian team in 2003, Gardiner missed most of the 2004 season due to injury. Loss of form and a series of off-field controversies led to him being traded to St Kilda at the end of the 2006 season, having played total of 129 games for West Coast. During his time at St Kilda, Gardiner added another 52 games, including St Kilda's 2009 and 2010 losing grand final teams, before retiring at the end of the 2011 season. Gardiner was born in Albany, Western Australia, played junior football for the Royals Football Club before heading to Perth Western Australia to play for Claremont Football Club in the WAFL.
Gardiner was the number 1 draft pick in the 1996 National Draft. Gardiner debuted in 1997 at only 17 years of age. There were big wraps on Gardiner as an emerging ruckman/forward, he did not disappoint, winning a Rising Star nomination in 1997 and All Australian selection in 2003. However, he was limited by chronic knee injuries, played 18 games in the next three seasons with the Eagles with Dean Cox becoming the leading ruckman in the AFL competition. In May 2005, Gardiner and West Coast team mate Ben Cousins were criticised for involvement with a group of alleged Perth underworld figures. Cousins and Gardiner received phone calls from gangland figures both before and after a stabbing and shooting at the Metro City nightclub. Police questioned Cousins and Gardiner about the incident but they refused to aid the inquiries; the Eagles told the pair that they were on their "last warning" and that their off field behaviour would not be tolerated. Gardiner's off field lifestyle was seen as detrimental to the West Coast playing group and, in February 2006, in the midst of the Ben Cousins booze bus incident, he was dropped to the Western Australian Football League side Claremont indefinitely on grounds of poor performance and poor off field behaviour.
On 18 July 2006, Gardiner's playing contract was suspended indefinitely and he was fined $5,000 following his involvement in a traffic accident in the Perth suburb of Scarborough. While he escaped the accident with only minor injuries, West Coast Eagles chief executive Trevor Nisbett said that it was unlikely the club would renew his contract at the end of the year. With Michael Gardiner's football career in limbo due to his effective sacking by the West Coast Eagles, speculation linked him with a trade to a Victorian-based club, with St Kilda or Carlton touted as the most destination for the ruckman. During the 2006 AFL Trade Period, the Eagles traded Gardiner to St Kilda with a swap of third round draft picks. Due to persistent injuries, Gardiner was unable to play any competitive AFL football during the 2007 season. Michael Gardiner started his St Kilda career by playing in the Saints' 2008 NAB Cup winning side, only the third time St Kilda had won a pre-season cup. During the AFL season Gardiner, hampered by injury, only managed to play 8 games.
However, his attitude and effort in training, combined with the glimpses of form and class he showed in his handful of games warranted playing on again the next season. The 2009 season saw Gardiner return to some of his best football form. Gardiner played in 16 of 22 matches in the 2009 home and away season in which St Kilda finished top of the ladder, winning the club’s third minor premiership, he averaged 10 disposals and 20.5 hit outs per game, while proving a threat up forward, kicking 12 goals for the season. Though unfortunate to narrowly miss out on selection, Gardiner’s return to form and value to the St Kilda side saw him touted as a potential All-Australian selection. Gardiner played his 150th game of AFL football in the Saints' Round 13 match against Richmond, a remarkable milestone for a player who had battled persistent injuries that saw him cut down in his prime, before being delisted by the West Coast Eagles in 2006. Another of the highlights of the season for Gardiner occurred the next week in the Round 14 blockbuster clash between the two undefeated sides of the competition - the Saints and the Cats.
In front of an AFL record crowd of 54, 444 at Docklands Stadium, Gardiner kicked four goals including the match-winner after a spectacular mark in the closing minutes of the game. Gardiner would receive 3 Brownlow Medal votes in recognition of his performance as best player on ground against the Cats. St Kilda qualified for the 2009 AFL Grand Final after preliminary finals wins. Gardiner played in the grand final. Gardiner had a stellar 2010 season, he played 22 games, the most he had played in a single season, during which he averaged 10.5 disposals, 17 hit-outs a game and kicked 10 goals for the year. He combined his aggression and mobility around the ground with masterful ruck performances, recording a top three finish in the competition for hit-outs to advantage. During the season, Gardiner hit the headlines for a late night altercation with Carlton Football Club's Mitch Robinson. However, Gardiner's onfield performances helped the Saints reach the Grand Final his critical role in the Saints' Preliminary Final victory over the Bulldogs which included his kicking the first goal of the game.
However, during the first half of the Grand Final, Gardiner sustained a hamstring injury which p
Neale Francis Daniher is a former Australian rules footballer who played with the Essendon Football Club in the Australian Football League. He was the coach of the Melbourne Football Club between 1998 and 2007, held coaching positions with Essendon and West Coast, his brothers, Terry and Chris played for Essendon. Daniher was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in 2013 and is now known as a prominent campaigner for medical research. Daniher was born the third child of James "Jim" Daniher and Edna Daniher on 15 February 1961 at West Wyalong Base Hospital, he attended St Joseph's Catholic School, Ungarie for his primary education before going to St Patrick's College in Goulburn and Assumption College, where he finished Year 12. He went to the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University, where he learned about the emerging technology of the 1980s such as computers, it was during his childhood that Daniher showed his love for sport, namely Australian rules football, playing in the Northern Riverina Football League on Saturdays while playing rugby league at school carnivals.
During his time in the NRFL he won several best and fairest awards before going to college, where he played both Australian rules football and rugby union. In 1978 both the South Melbourne and Essendon football clubs approached Daniher as a player. After a legal battle between the two clubs, Essendon won the right to recruit Daniher as South Melbourne had signed a contract which said that Essendon had this right due to South Melbourne trading Terry Daniher to Essendon in exchange for Neville Fields. From 1979 to 1990, Daniher played for Essendon in the VFL/AFL, playing only 82 games due to several knee injuries, he never led the side due to injury. Daniher made history with his three brothers when they became the first quartet of brothers to play for the same team in both a state of origin match and a home-and-away game. Daniher retired at the end of the 1990 season but played for Werribee in the Victorian Football Association in 1991. After his playing career was over, Daniher took up a career in coaching, with his first job coming when he became an assistant coach for the Fremantle Football Club.
After his time with Fremantle, he became the senior coach of the Melbourne Football Club for 10 seasons from 1998 to 2007. At Melbourne he led the Demons to the 2000 AFL Grand Final in his third season at the club where they played against his former team, Essendon, in a match that Melbourne lost. In the 2004 pre-season, with Melbourne struggling for memberships and requiring the competitive balance fund for survival, Daniher made a more concerted effort to be more outspoken in the media – and became known as "The Reverend" for his "preaching" skills; this helped the club's membership and public profile. After making the semi-finals of the Wizard Cup, the Demons led the AFL ladder after 18 rounds by winning 14 out of 18 games, before a 4-game losing streak saw them miss the top 4 altogether and finish 5th, where they were knocked out of the finals in the first week by Essendon. 2005 saw the Demons enjoy a similar run near the top of the ladder, but another late-season fade-out saw them temporarily lose their spot in the eight, before reclaiming their position with close wins over the Western Bulldogs and Geelong.
They were comprehensively beaten by Geelong in the elimination final, which saw a second consecutive first week exit for the club. The Demons improved in 2006, making the semi-finals after losing the first 3 games of the season coming back but fading in the last 7 games. On 27 June 2007, he announced that he would resign at the end of the 2007 season after the Demons started the year with nine straight defeats, they won their next two matches, but a poor showing in a 49-point loss against cellar dwellers, Richmond in Round 12 2007, put pressure on Daniher's coaching tenure. On 29 June 2007, he announced that Round 13 clash against Essendon will be his last game as Melbourne Demons coach, they lost the match by 2 points. The team was coached by Mark Riley until the end of the season. After leaving coaching he became the general manager of football operations for the West Coast Eagles in the 2008 season. Daniher received a Member of the Order of Australia award on the Queen's birthday in 2016 for his efforts in raising awareness of MND and raising funds to help find a cure for the disease.
In August 2014 it was revealed that he is battling motor neurone disease, incurable. He has dedicated the remainder of his life to educating Australians about the disease. Beginning in 2015 the annual Queens Birthday Clash between Melbourne and Collingwood has been partnered with the Big Freeze, in Raising funds for the fight against Motor Neurone Disease. List of Australian rules football families Daniher, Terry Daniher, Neale Daniher, Anthony Daniher and Chris Daniher; the Danihers: The Story of Football's Favourite Family. Sydney: Allen & Unwin, 2009. ISBN 1-74175-651-0 Neale Daniher's playing statistics from AFL Tables
Australian rules football
Australian rules football known as Australian football, or called Aussie rules, football or footy, is a contact sport played between two teams of eighteen players on an oval-shaped field a modified cricket ground. Points are scored by kicking the oval-shaped ball between behind posts. During general play, players may position themselves anywhere on the field and use any part of their bodies to move the ball; the primary methods are kicking and running with the ball. There are rules on how the ball can be handled: for example, players running with the ball must intermittently bounce or touch it on the ground. Throwing the ball is not allowed and players must not get caught holding the ball. A distinctive feature of the game is the mark, where players anywhere on the field who catch the ball from a kick are awarded possession. Possession of the ball is in dispute at all times except when mark is paid. Players can use their whole body to obstruct opponents. Dangerous physical contact, interference when marking and deliberately slowing the play are discouraged with free kicks, distance penalties or suspension for a certain number of matches, depending on the seriousness of the infringement.
The game features frequent physical contests, spectacular marking, fast movement of both players and the ball and high scoring. The sport's origins can be traced to football matches played in Melbourne, Victoria in 1858, inspired by English public school football games. Seeking to develop a game more suited to adults and Australian conditions, the Melbourne Football Club published the first laws of Australian football in May 1859, making it the oldest of the world's major football codes. Australian football has the highest spectator attendance and television viewership of all sports in Australia, while the Australian Football League, the sport's only professional competition, is the nation's wealthiest sporting body; the AFL Grand Final, held annually at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, is the highest attended club championship event in the world. The sport is played at amateur level in many countries and in several variations, its rules are governed by the AFL Commission with the advice of the AFL's Laws of the Game Committee.
Australian rules football is known by several nicknames, including Aussie rules and footy. In some regions, it is marketed as AFL after the Australian Football League. There is evidence of football being played sporadically in the Australian colonies in the first half of the 19th century. Compared to cricket and horse racing, football was viewed as a minor "amusement" at the time, while little is known about these early one-off games, it is clear they share no causal link with Australian football. In 1858, in a move that would help to shape Australian football in its formative years, "public" schools in Melbourne, Victoria began organising football games inspired by precedents at English public schools; the earliest such match, held in St Kilda on 15 June, was between Melbourne Grammar and St Kilda Grammar. On 10 July 1858, the Melbourne-based Bell's Life in Victoria and Sporting Chronicle published a letter by Tom Wills, captain of the Victoria cricket team, calling for the formation of a "foot-ball club" with a "code of laws" to keep cricketers fit during winter.
Born in Australia, Wills played a nascent form of rugby football whilst a pupil at Rugby School in England, returned to his homeland a star athlete and cricketer. His letter is regarded by many historians as giving impetus for the development of a new code of football today known as Australian football. Two weeks Wills' friend, cricketer Jerry Bryant, posted an advertisement for a scratch match at the Richmond Paddock adjoining the Melbourne Cricket Ground; this was the first of several "kickabouts" held that year involving members of the Melbourne Cricket Club, including Wills, Bryant, W. J. Hammersley and J. B. Thompson. Trees were used as goalposts and play lasted an entire afternoon. Without an agreed upon code of laws, some players were guided by rules they had learned in the British Isles, "others by no rules at all". Another significant milestone in 1858 was a match played under experimental rules between Melbourne Grammar and Scotch College, held at the Richmond Paddock; this 40-a-side contest, umpired by Wills and Scotch College teacher John Macadam, began on 7 August and continued over two subsequent Saturdays, ending in a draw with each side kicking one goal.
It is commemorated with a statue outside the MCG, the two schools have competed annually since in the Cordner-Eggleston Cup, the world's oldest continuous football competition. Since the early 20th century, it has been suggested that Australian football was derived from the Irish sport of Gaelic football, not codified until 1885. There is no archival evidence in favour of a Gaelic influence, the style of play shared between the two modern codes was evident in Australia long before the Irish game evolved in a similar direction. Another theory, first proposed in 1983, posits that Wills, having grown up amongst Aborigines in Victoria, may have seen or played the Aboriginal game of Marn Grook, incorporated some of its features into early Australian football; the evidence for this is only circumstantial, according to biographer Greg de Moore's research, Wills was "almost influenced by his experience at Rugby School". A loosely organised Melbourne side, captained by Wills, played against other football enthusiasts in the winter and spring of 1858.
The following year, on 14 May, the Melbourne Football Club came into being, making it one of the
Laws of Australian rules football
The rules of Australian rules football were first formed by the Melbourne Football Club in 1859, been refined over the years as the game evolved into its modern form. The laws predate the advent of a governing body for the sport; the first national and international body, the Australasian Football Council, was formed in 1905 to govern Australian Football. Since 1994, the rules for the game known as Australian football have been governed by the AFL and the organisation's Laws of the Game committee. Australian rules football is a contact sport played between two teams of eighteen players on an oval-shaped field a modified cricket ground. Points are scored by kicking the oval-shaped ball between behind posts. During general play, players may position themselves anywhere on the field and use any part of their bodies to move the ball; the primary methods are kicking and running with the ball. There are rules on how the ball can be handled: including rules against running too far with the ball, throwing the ball and holding the ball.
Players can use their whole body to obstruct opponents. Dangerous physical contact, interference when marking and deliberately slowing the play are discouraged with free kicks, distance penalties or suspension for a certain number of matches, depending on the seriousness of the infringement. If a player marks the ball, they are allowed a free kick; this encourages marking contests. 18 players are permitted to be on the field per team at any one time, with an additional 4 players on an interchange bench. The equipment needed to play the game is minimal; as in other kinds of football, players wear boots with stops in the soles, a thick, strong shirt or jumper known as a guernsey sleeveless, although long sleeve jumpers are sometimes worn in cold weather by some players. Protective gear is minimal. Most players wear a mouthguard but only a few wear a helmet a bicycle style helmet with a soft outer covering, only after medical advice, such as if they have been concussed numerous times; some players, predominantly ruckmen, wear shin guards.
All protective equipment must be approved by the umpires to ensure that it can not injure other players. The game is played on a grassed oval. Four posts, aligned in a straight line, 6.4 metres apart from each other, are erected at either end of the oval. The size of the ground is not fixed, but is between 135-185m long and 110-155m wide. Lines are drawn on the field to mark the boundary, a 50m-wide centre square a diamond shape, two concentric circles in the centre with diameters 3m and 10m, both bisected by one line, a 9×6.4m goal square at each end of the ground, a 15m-wide "interchange area" on one flank of the oval. A curved line at each end, 50 metres from the goal line Prior to a ground redevelopment at the Sydney Cricket Ground, the "Fifty Metre Lines" were replaced by 45m lines due to the ground's short length, to avoid overlapping with the centre square. In the 1980s, 25m lines were used in Western Australia; the game is a fast-paced combination of speed, athleticism and physical toughness.
Players are allowed to tackle the player with the ball and impede opposition players from tackling their teammates, but not to deliberately strike an opponent. Like most team sports, tactics are based around trying to get the ball – through a combination of running with the ball, hand-passing and kicking – to deliver it to a player, within range of goal; because taking a mark entitles the player to a free kick, a common tactic is to attempt to kick the ball on the full to a teammate, within kicking range of goal. In this situation, packs of players form around the goal square, the opportunity arises for spectacular marks in which players launch themselves off opponents' backs to mark the ball, high in the air; this particular skill is regarded as a spectacle, an annual "Mark of the Year" is awarded at the end of a season. There are no set positions in the rules of the game, but traditionally the field was divided into three major sections: the forward line, back line, midfield; the forward and back lines consisted of six players, arranged into two lines of three players each.
The midfield consists of the designated ruckman and players who either stay in the centre area of the ground or follow the ball and are not confined to a particular area. The modern game, has discarded positional play in favour of a free flowing running game and attempting to have loose men in various positions on the ground; the rise in popularity of the hand-pass since the 1970s has influenced this style of play, with players more willing to follow the ball and move it amongst themselves rather than kicking long to a one-on-one marking contest. In the late 1990s a tactic known as flooding was devised and shifted focus away from set positions; when a team "plays a flood", they direct two or more of their midfield or forward line players into their defence, thus out-numbering their opponent and making it difficult for any opposing forward to take an uncon