The Melbourne Rules : An Esoteric History compiled by Brian Membrey

Footy and The Irish Stew


The Melbourne Rules section of presents a unique history of Australian Rules, early football in Australia, early football in Melbourne and Australian football,oddities, along with our usual mixture of related Australian sporting history.

Hector de Lacy was editor of The Sporting Globe for many years and it is doubtful his comparison to an Irish Stew has ever been equalled - Dennis Cometti will have to lift his game!

Like most of our site, this section is a rag-bag collection of material that has a fairly limited structure. Enjoy!

Several years of research debunk a few myths about the originals of Australian football - or perhaps somewhat unfortunately “Melbourne Rules”, a term that inhibited the growth of the game in New South Wales for decades.

Click, drill down, move backwards, forwards as you will - most of all, ENJOY!


UPDATE : September, 2018

The Oppo’s : For Footy in Preston fans - Opportunity Club team photos - one from 1949, thought to be under-19, another perhaps a year or two earlier.   Also some additional stuff on the Motordrome and Exhibition Buildings Oval, the latter once mooted for football, but never quite happening.

Footy During the Second World War :  A new and extensive thread covering the football scene during the Second World War - mostly Melbourne, but sections covering the West, South Australia and Tassie who all came up with different plans to keep the game alive in their home states.  Especially fascinating is the coverage of the War Services Cup of 1942 which featured many League and Association stars, some commentators suggesting that if they could have trained together, their Combined side would have been capable of defeating the ultimate League premiers, Essendon. Perhaps it was no great surprise that the Aussies Services knocked off the Americans playing under the long-forgotten AUSTUS rules.

Gee … it must be finals time because there is another release!  We’ve also added the background of The Coulter Law, introduced in 1930 and in place for nearly four decades, the League’s first “Salary Cap” designed to control the amount clubs could offer recruits and players from other clubs to transfer allegiances

UPDATE : August, 2018  

1951 : Moorabbin versus Box Hill  The background to the admission of the two new clubs into the Victorian Football Association, the first alteration to the competition since the admission of Sandringham and Oakleigh in 1929.

The Victorian Football Association - Take Three!  The story of two unusual final series which both included two draws. The more remarkable was 1912, when North Melbourne and Brunswick drew in the the first semi-final, and then drew in the first semi final before North broke the deadlock in the first semi-final which was by then the third semi-final!

1927 also saw two draws - Brighton and Preston in the first semi-final, the re-match held over until after the second semi-final between the undefeated Coburg and Port Melbourne, which also was drawn, leaving the Grand Final to ultimately be played as late as 15 October!

Also missing names added for Preston YCW 1966 Under-19’s (including PFC Life Member, Neil Hart)

UPDATE : April, 2018

KEY MOMENTS : Considerably more detail to our page on A. E. “Buck” Wheatley’s recollection of the 1867 formation of the  Emerald-hill/South Melbourne/Albert-park football club  Plus a page on “Buck” himself - Alfred Emblem Wheatley himself and his early contribution to South Melbourne’s early sporting history.

UPDATE : March, 2018

FOOTY IN PRESTON: Courtesy of Graeme Atkinson, we’ve added a remarkable image of a 1946 Preston Boys team, unsure whether it’s under-18 or under-21, but certainly taken at the old Edwards Lake Reserve before Preston Council developed the upper oval at Moore Park for footy and cricket so the Lake could return to athletics.  Also some more on Larrikins

UPDATE : December, 2017

FOOTY IN PRESTON : A new page on the Preston Y.C.W. club who brought premierships to the Preston district in 1942 and 1943 under the coaching of Preston Football Club star, Bill “Socks” Maslen.

UPDATE : November, 2017

A new entry under KEY MATCHES - the final match of the 1896 V.F.A. season between Collingwood and South Melbourne which has claims as being Melbourne Rules’ first ever “grand final” - the teams finished level after the 18-round season with 13 wins and a draw, but with 61 goals against, but with the ‘Pies on top by the barest of margins with 86 goals for to South’s 85. The V.F.A’s unfortunate decision to delay the match for a week to allow immaterial games between weaker clubs was instrumental in the breakaway of eight clubs to form the Victorian Football League the following season.

Additional details on the controversial and ultimately successful “throw-pass” introduced by the V.F.A. In 1938 - this update includes other new rules brought in at the same time - 15-yard penalties, free-kicks down-field and a re-introduction of boundary throw-ins, but not for a player to take a kick on behalf of an incapacitated team-mate, wisely thought by delegates as likely to be abused close to goal!

Some additional details on the almost forgotten demonstration of Aussie Rules at the 1956 Olympics; this update includes Best Players and Goalkickers, plus the post-match comments from The Argus senior football writer, Percy Taylor, who considered the match a disappointment as an exhibition of our native game.

A team photo, Melbourne Cricket Ground, Friday, 7 December, 1956. An odd date for a game of footy, but perhaps not if playing in the 1956 Melbourne Olympic demonstration Match

More on “The Legend”

“The history of Australian Football

is very much the Irish stew.

So much has been put into it,

so much has been forgotten,

still its greatest recommendation is its tang”

H. A. de Lacy, Sporting Globe Football Annual, 1954