WELCOME TO MARK PENNING'S ORIGINS of AUSTRALIAN FOOTBALL

volume4

Publication Date: Coming 2016

Publisher: Grumpy Monks

By the early 1890s an economic depression in Victoria hit football hard and the code struggled to maintain popularity. As a result, many of the colony's best players left to play in Western Australia. The game was not as fast as in the previous decade being marred by constant stoppages and scrimmages. It was sorely in need of reform. The Victorian Football Association was however slow to respond to these problems.

With Collingwood’s admission to the VFA in 1892, the number of clubs stood at thirteen. Essendon also became the dominant team in this decade with a magnificent side that won four consecutive premierships.

Football was by law an amateur game with regulations forbidding payments to players. Even so, semi-professionalism was commonplace with certain clubs demonstrating a blatant disregard for the rules. The VFA tried to eradicate professionalism by creating permit committees and stricter transfer rules. However, the tensions raised between supporters of the tradition of amateurism and those of the new professional future eventually led the most powerful clubs to break away from the VFA and they formed the Victorian Football League (VFL) in 1897. A new chapter in the history of football had thus begun.