The beginning of Australian football

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The Australian AFL has become so intertwined in our everyday lives that it is hard to even imagine a time where there was no football. The origin of football dates back as far as 1858. When students from Scotch College, (now known as Melbourne Grammar), and St Kilda Grammar competed in a game against each other.

In the year that followed, a set of rules was drawn up and regular games became apparent in Parks around Melbourne. By the year 1870, there were crowds of up to 10,000 people that attended the games at the Melbourne Cricket Ground to which this uniquely Australian game. You could say, the game was born and it had caught the attention of many passers.

Initially, the game was created for cricket players as a way to keep fit throughout their offseason. To start with, there were limited rules surrounding the game but after a while, the games became chaotic and required lengthy negotiations prior to actually playing the game. It became apparent that certain rules were required.

In May 1859, Thomas Wentworth Wills, who was a renowned cricket player and one of the greatest football players at the time, sat down with a group of seven cricket players to create the following rules:  



The rules included:


handling of the ball at any time
that the player with the ball could only run as far as was needed to kick the ball;
that a player who caught (marked) the ball cleanly from a kick could take a free-kick
that throwing the ball was banned
that an opponent could not be held if he did not have possession of the ball
In the following decade, several amendments were made so that:
players could run with the ball if they bounced it or touched it on the ground every five or six yards
the ball had to be kicked through the goal, rather than carried through as it was in rugby
Players were penalized if they held the ball when tackled.

By the 1870s football was well established in Melbourne and Clubs were formed around the surrounding suburbs where regular games were organized and played.

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