The Roar
The Roar


Timeline of the nationalisation of footy Part 1 - Sydney and beyond

Roar Guru
21st October, 2015

Some time ago I started to work on a timeline of the expansion of the VFL across the country and came up with this. The first part covers the period 1977 to 1984, the second part covers 1985 to 1990.

Source material for this comes from The Phoenix Rises (Ross Oakley), My Game (Allen Aylett), Football Limited (Gary Linnell), From Port to a Power (Bruce Abernathy), Birth of the West Coast Eagles (Fox Doco), various works by John Devaney and of course the excellent resources at Trove.

1977 – December 23. Ron Barrassi presents a plan to the VFL for a team in Sydney with himself as the coach.

1978 – April 26. VFL board of Directors authorises the VFL to investigate the Sydney Cricket Ground hosting Sunday VFL matches.

1980 – July 29 – VFL approves South Melbourne plan to play 11 home games in Sydney from 1981.

1980 – October 18. East Perth applies to join the VFL. East Perth believed that WA needed to have two teams in the VFL in part to stop the rampant poaching of players.

1980 – November. The VFL Board of Directors resolved to adopt a totally new approach to the recruitment of interstate players. The Permit Regulations of the League were amended to provide that, in future, players could only be registered with VFL Clubs through being drafted at an Interstate Selection meeting.

1980 – The Hennessy Report recommends a team be established in Sydney. The team would be profitable, making profits of $750,000 after three years, and drawing 17,000 average crowds in the first year up to 20,000 in the third.

1981 – January 28. VFL appoints Graham Huggins to do a study into launching a full time VFL side in Sydney. The study takes 5 months


1981 – June 17. Huggins report is tabled to the VFL board recommneding immediate expansion. Under the Huggins report Sydney would be controlled by a VFL trust, and have a trial period of three years in the league before becoming a full member.

1981 – June 11-17. VFL Directors decide that they would consider approaches from South Australia after a week of talks between senior VFL directors and the SANFL General Manager, Don roach.

1981 – July 1. South Melbourne asks the VFL to fixture all home games in Sydney and all away games at VFL Park under lights

1981 – July 5. Keep South at South meets at Lakeside oval.

1981 – July 29. VFL approves moving 11 home games to Sydney in 1982.

1981 – September 22. Extraordinary meeting of South Melbourne members, KSAS committee wins 80% of vote.

1981 – October 1. The VFL drops the old Form Four system previously used to recruit from interstate and moves to a draft.

1981 – October 6. First VFL draft for interstate recruits is held. Alan Johnson from WA is pick 1 by Melbourne.


1981 – October 14. The VFL refuses to rescind the decision to play South in Sydney in 1982

1981 – November 18.The VFL agrees to loan South $400,000 from the Ground Improvement Fund on condition that the club plays its games in Sydney for at least two years.

1981 – December 9. VFL presidents indicate support for the VFL to take over South

1981 – December 11. South Board resigns.

1982 – February 10. Gold Coast Australian Football league launches a campaign to have a VFL team based on the Gold Coast within five years.

1982 – October 19. Second VFL Draft for interstate recruits. Andrew Purser, from WA is selected at No.1 by Footscray.

1982 – December 10. VFL Commissioner says that applications had been recieved from WA, SA, and the ACT. The article quotes Hamilton as saying that the ACT would almost certainly be represented in the VFL in future.

1983 – John Elliot and Elders IXL look at buying the Swans. They would need to pay out 1.6 million in debt and buyout 1800 members at $40 a piece. The plan was later dropped.


1983 – February 5th. Allen Aylett suggests moving clubs interstate to alleviate their financial problems after reported speculation that Footscray or Collingwood could move to Brisbane.

1983 – April-May. Mckinsey report commissioned. The report finds many issues with the leagues decision making processes.

1983 – May 11. A report by David Crawford says the Swans are dangerously close to extinction.

1983 – October 4. The VFL sets up Task Force Mandic.

1984 – April 7. The NFL calls a conference to discuss the VFLs attitude to interstate recruiting after the VFL ignored an NFL request to revoke permits granted to two players to transfer from South Australia back to Geelong.

1984 – May 17. Bob Ansett (North president) says that a national competition was needed to ensure the survival of the VFL after reports emerged that several clubs were considering forming a breakaway competition.

1984 – May 23. The herald reports that Fitzroy is considering a merger with Melbourne. Fitzroy deny any such discussion is taking place.

1984 – June 6. North Melbourne proposes a revamped 16 team competition in six states to a VFL task force.


1984 – June 15. WA Football Commissioner appraches the SANFL to discuss entering the VFL at the same time, but leaves under the impression the SANFL arent interested

1984 – August 1. Mandic Task Force reports ““the overwhelming preponderance of evidence received by the Task Force supports its unanimous view that a new management and policy-making structure with clearly defined objectives needs to be created for the VFL and further, the Task Force has concluded that the present decision-making process with the League is fundamently (sic) deficient”.”

1984 – September 4. Meeting of club representatives organised by John Elliot and Ian Collins proposing the setting up of a new national competition, with financial conditions set, and clubs to be invited from WA and SA. SA is uninterested, but interest from WA was reported as warm. 11 VFL club presidents are reported in favour (Geelongs president wasnt present).

1984 – September 13. The WAFL says its ready to join the VFL, but wants composite teams not individuals. Elliot was reported to have talked to Swan District and Claremont. The SANFL condemned the VFL for keeping it in the dark.

1984 – September 12. John Elliot presents his plan to the VFL board at an emergency meeting “noting that his material had input from the Collingwood president, Ranald Macdonald, and “other club representatives”

1984 – September 14. Victorian Minister for sport and recreation condemns moves to take the VFL national in parliament, saying 90% of the Victorian public opposed the move.

1984 – September 26. VFL subcommittee says changes could not be in place for 1985.

1984 – October 4. ACTAFL president says any national competition should be run by the NFL not the VFL.


1984 – November 7 – ““after long and careful consideration it was resolved “that the VFL Board endorse in principal the Task Force recommendation that the existing VFL Board of Directors structure be replaced by the appointment of a full-time Commissioner and four part-time Commissioners to conduct the administrative affairs of the League on a trial basis”

Part 2 of this series will deal with the inclusion of the WA and SA clubs.