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Essendon's Gary Moorcroft takes a "speckie"

"1859: The Aussies invent Australian Rules Football, a combination of soccer, rugby, and murdering people in cold blood."

Rugby on a Cricket pitch with half the stoppage and all the violence.

The dominant football code in the Australian states of Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania. Rugby League is more popular in New South Wales (north of Sydney, which has often been quoted as the "border" between AFL and NRL territory) and Queensland, although there are AFL teams based there. In Victoria, especially Melbourne, Aussie Rules is not a religion, it's more important than that. Go ahead, try to hail a taxi on the day of the Grand Final.

Aussie Rules is ... erm ... what's the word? ... violent. Very, very violent. It's like Rugby turned up to eleven. In recent times, AFL has been trying to clean up the game's image and counteract this - certainly, the actions of players such as Robbie Muir, David Rhys-Jones and Jack "Captain Blood" Dyer would be unacceptable today. Still, even when they play by the rules, it's hard to watch without wincing. Those sissies in Mixed Martial Arts should give this sport a try.

Regardless of any on-field violence, though, Aussie Rules fans tend to be a civil lot. Despite stereotypes of Collingwood and Port Adelaide fans in particular, fans of different teams can mingle at the game and expect no more than a good-natured, if passionate, verbal stoush - hooliganism is virtually unknown.

Rules? There are rules other than POUND THE CRAP OUT OF WHOEVER HAS THE BALL? Well, yes:

  • The game is played on an oval-shaped ground considerably larger than any playing field apart from that for polo;note  very often, this is a current or former cricket ground. There are sets of goals at each far end, consisting of two bigger central posts and two smaller outer posts. A distance of 50 metres from each goal is marked by lines on the turf.
  • There are 18 players per side, plus a five-player bench. Four of the five can freely enter and exit the game so long as one of the on-field players exits first. The fifth bench player is a medical substitute who can only enter the game if sideline doctors deem a player unfit to continue. Only 75 of these exchanges (most recently reduced from 90 in 2021) are permitted per game, however. The 18 players on the field are constant (apart from the VFA, which had 16 on the field for a while, omitting the two wing players - there is some talk of adopting this in the AFL to reduce congestion. The AFL Women's competition also has 16 on the field); the number of substitutes and/or interchanges allowed gets changed every few years. AFL Women's also differs in having no limit on the number of exchanges per match; the AFL chose not to enforce a limit for player safety reasons, given that the women's league is played during the southern summer.
  • A football match is divided into four quarters of twentynote  minutes each, not including stoppage time. Play begins in the centre of the field, with an umpire bouncing or throwing the ball high into the air, at which point a player from each team (the "ruckman", who is usually very tall) will jump up and try to punch the ball towards their own players (akin to a basketball jump ball). If a goal is scored, the lead umpire is given the ball, to spike it upon the centre circle once more. note  (See below.)
  • To advance the ball down the field, running is an option, although players must bounce the ball every fifteen metres.
  • Passing is accomplished by either kicking or handballing (i.e. tapping it away with the side of the fist, in a manner similar to an underhand volleyball serve), but throwing it rugby-style is prohibited. Kicks carry further and catching it will result in a mark (see below), but handballs are usually safer and more accurate and preserve momentum.
  • When the ball goes out of bounds, it is thrown back in by an umpire (who throws it backwards, over their head, so they cannot aim for particular players to catch it), and players will fight to knock the ball to their own side, similar to the centre bounce. Unless one side kicks it out of bounds on the fullnote  or does so very deliberately, in which case the opposition have a free kick.
  • Players are allowed to tackle whoever has the ballnote ,unless the person with the ball has taken a mark or been given a free kick. Once tackled, the player in possession of the ball must dispose of it by kicking or handballing, or be penalised for "holding the ball".note  Just to confuse you, while tackling another player not in possession of the ball incurs a penalty for "holding the man", blocking, shepherding, or otherwise obstructing other players within five metres of the ball is perfectly OK. As per most sports, you're forbidden to tackle your opponent above the shoulders or below the knees, or to push in the back.
  • Catching a ball that has been kicked over a distance of fifteen metres or more without bouncing or being touched is called a "mark", and automatically grants the player a free kick (although the free kick count doesn't include marks), or the chance to "play-on", passing the ball onto another player, should they decline. Free kicks are also awarded as penalties.
  • Although it might seem that shots on goal are limited to inside the fifty metre line this isn't the case. Goals or points can be scored from any range, but most players know they probably won't succeed from beyond that distance so don't try. There is an experimental rule that gives nine points for goals kicked from outside fifty metres, but it is not currently used in the main competition.
  • Scoring: a goal is scored when the ball is kicked between the two central posts by the attacking team, without being touched by another player or hitting the post (although it may touch the ground) — this is worth six points. A behind is scored if the ball hits one of the central posts (even if it bounces back into play), goes between the central and outer post, or is touched by any part of a player's body other than the foot of an attacking player, and is worth one point. Hitting an outer post is worth no points, and is equivalent to the ball going out of play. There is no restriction on how high the ball can go between the posts.

The biggest Australian Rules league by a massive margin is the Australian Football League, with the result that the game itself is commonly unofficially called "AFL". The AFL grew from the interstate expansion of the Victorian Football League, and currently has ten Victorian and eight interstate teams (two each from South Australia, Western Australia, Queensland, and New South Wales). The AFL has confirmed that a Tasmania-based team will become the league's 19th team, planned to join the competition in 2028. Of the interstate teams, one (the Sydney Swans) was a Victorian club that was forced to relocate, and another (the Brisbane Lions) was the result of another Victorian team merging with the Brisbane Bears. This setup has sparked significant conflict between the Victorian and interstate teams, with some Victorian teams (especially the smaller, poorer ones) feeling that the league is attempting to force them out to make way for more interstate teams), while those interstate accuse Victorians of thinking they own the league.

Below the AFL, there are a number of state leagues, the most important being the VFL (formerly the VFA, who took the acronym after the original VFL became the AFL), the SANFL, and the WAFL (pronounced "waffle". Mmm, waffles). Also notable is the NAB League (formerly TAC Cup), a Victorian under-18 league which is one of the major pathways to the AFL. Below those, there are a number of local leagues. The AFL has increased its efforts to promote the game for girls and women, with more support for female players at grass roots level, and women's matches being played a curtain-raisers to Melbourne vs Western Bulldogs games since 2013. The AFL announced a national women's competition, with the initial clubs being Adelaide, Brisbane, Carlton, Collingwood, Fremantle, Greater Western Sydney, Melbourne and Western Bulldogs. The AFLW began in 2017 with archrivals Carlton defeating Collingwood in front of a sold-out crowd in what seems to be a promising future for the women's game. Geelong and North Melbourne (referred to as "North Melbourne/Tasmania" were added in 2019; Gold Coast, Richmond, St Kilda and West Coast Eagles joined for 2020. The remaining four AFL clubs joined AFLW in the women's league's second calendar 2022 season (August–November).

Internationally, the sport has a niche following at best, but every 3-4 years the International Cup runs in Australia, featuring foreign national teams. The 2017 IC featured 18 men's teams across two divisions, and 8 women's teams. Countries represented were:

  • Men's Division 1: Canada, Fiji, France, Great Britain, Ireland, Nauru, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, South Africa, USA
  • Men's Division 2: China, Croatia, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka
  • Women's: Canada, Europe, Fiji, Great Britain, Ireland, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, USA

The eighteen teams of the AFL (and AFLW) are:

  • Adelaide Crows (SA)
    • Joined League: 1991
    • Joined AFLW: 2017
    • Colours: Navy blue, red and gold
    • Premierships:
      • Men — 1997, 1998
      • Women — 2017, 2019, 2022 (Season 6)note 
    • Supporter stereotype: Rich, chardonnay-drinking snobs, which doesn't prevent them from being yobbos. Officially The Rival of Port Power, with their bi-yearly Showdowns being noted by Malcolm Blight as "no doubt the greatest rivalry in football". Also holds a minor, unofficial rivalry with Richmond since 2017.
      • They've built a fanbase among Aussie Rules fans in the USA thanks to their use (with club-themed lyrics) of the Marines' Hymn as their theme song.
  • Brisbane Lions (Qld) - Formed by the merger of the Brisbane Bears and Fitzroy Lions.
    • A.K.A: Fitzroy were known as the "Roys" or "Royboys". They were nicknamed the "Gorillas" or "Maroons" before changing to the Lions. The Brisbane Bears were sometimes called "The Bad News Bears" due to their poor record.
    • Joined League: 1897 (Fitzroy), 1987 (Brisbane Bears), 1997 (clubs merged)
    • Joined AFLW: 2017
    • Colours: Maroon, blue and gold
    • Premierships:
      • Men — (As Fitzroy) 1898, 1899, 1904, 1905, 1913, 1916, 1922, 1944 (As Brisbane Lions) 2001, 2002, 2003
      • Women — 2021
    • Supporter stereotype: Fair-weather fans who don't know much about the gamenote , and only pay attention in years when Brisbane are doing well.
      • Unless they're actually Victorian. The club has a loyal fan base in Melbourne, mostly people who followed Fitzroy before the merger. Most fans attend the few games Brisbane have in Victoria (usually five or six), and an amateur team picked up the Fitzroy name. Fitzroy supporters were legendarily (read: insanely) loyal (before the merger, that is - a lot of them gave up in disgust at that point), and the team was generally well-liked by supporters of other teams in a perpetual underdog kind of way. As the bard of Aussie Rules, Greg Champion put it: "deep in our hearts, we all barrack for Fitzroy".
  • Carlton Blues (Vic)
    • A.K.A. Bluebaggers
    • Joined League: 1897
    • Joined AFLW: 2017
    • Colours: Navy blue (with white monogram)
    • Premierships (men): 1906, 1907, 1908, 1914, 1915, 1938, 1945, 1947, 1968, 1970, 1972, 1979, 1981, 1982, 1987, 1995
    • Supporter stereotype: Rich snobs, usually of Italian background. Possibly have connections to The Mafia.
      • Also seen, these days, as fair weather fans - as the Grand Final tally demonstrates, Carlton enjoyed a long season of fair weather prior to 1996. Since then, the team has frequently failed to even make the finals, and many of the less stalwart fans have deserted it.
  • Collingwood Magpies (Vic) - The most hated team in the league.
    • A.K.A: Pies, Maggies, Woods, Woodsmen, Carringbush (from the name given to the suburb of Collingwood in a muckraking novel by Frank Hardy), Black and White Mongrels (derogatory), Colliwobbles (derogatory, used especially whenever they choke)
    • Joined League: 1897
    • Joined AFLW: 2017
    • Colours: Black and white
    • Premierships (men): 1902, 1903, 1910, 1917, 1919, 1927, 1928, 1929, 1930, 1935, 1936, 1953, 1958, 1990, 2010, 2023. (Collingwood holds the record for most Grand Finals lost with 27. And drawn with 2 [1977 and 2010].)
    • Supporter stereotype: Loud, obnoxious yobbos with an IQ in single digits, who don't know the rules of the game and leave early whenever their team looks set to lose the match. Being in the presence of said supporters is likely to result in severe IQ loss. Yanks, think Las Vegas Raiders supporters (aka the infamously thuggish "Raider Nation") or hardcore college sports fans (who riot and burn couches and stuff). Brits, think Liverpool supporters (or just Football Hooligans in general).
      • The 2010 Grand Final between St. Kilda and Collingwood was described by some as "Australia vs. Collingwood".
      • Nearly any game played by Collingwood, but especially Grand Finals, will see supporters of pretty much every other team barracking for whoever is playing Collingwood to win, on the basis that whoever they are, at least they're not Collingwood.
      • Team was very famously run by Aussie TV presenter Eddie McGuire (former host of The Footy Show on the Nine Network, as well as the Aussie version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?) until a recent scandal involving racism. He has since been replaced by Mark Korda and Peter Murphy till they find a new president.
      • One theory about why Collingwood is so hated is that it stems from late 19th-century anti-Irish racism, with the suburb of Collingwood at the time having a large Irish population.
      • Has become mildly popular among Americans because of Mason Cox, AKA "American Pie", the only current American-born-and-raised player in the AFL.
  • Essendon Bombers (Vic)
    • A.K.A. Esserdon, Dons, Same Olds (archaic, from a line in their old club song). Following the supplements scandal, opposition fans have taken to calling them either "Essendope" or simply "drug cheats".
    • Joined League: 1897
    • Joined AFLW: 2022 (August)
    • Colours: Black and red
    • Premierships (men): 1897, 1901, 1911, 1912, 1923, 1924, 1942, 1946, 1949, 1950, 1962, 1965, 1984, 1985, 1993, 2000
    • Supporter stereotype: Arrogant, even when they're near the bottom of the ladder. Also very rebellious, occasionally claiming that the league is in a conspiracy against them, especially during their 2013 performance enhancing drugs scandal. During this scandal, they grew to be seen as near cultists due to their blind support of their administration and coach, despite the sheer weight of evidence against them. "Stand By Hird" was used as a rallying cry.
      • To be fair, there were actually at least a couple of years around 2000 where Essendon were nailed, bolted and hard welded to the TOP of the ladder... In effect, the Bombers had a golden age and now it has passed. This helps to explain the arrogance...
      • Following the supplements scandal, the stereotype appears to have changed to "angry and depressed". To make matters worse after the doping scandal the club had reputedly sought aid from legitimate businessman Mick Gatto. Yes, that Mick Gatto.
  • Fremantle Dockers (WA) - The only side to have never won a premiership, at least until Gold Coast joined the league in 2011 and GWS the following year.
    • A.K.A: Freo
    • Joined League: 1995
    • Joined AFLW: 2017
    • Colours: Purple and white, formerly purple, red, white and green. One of their club presidents is quoted as saying, "Our colours don't clash with any other team's. They just clash with each other."
    • Supporter stereotype: Lefties, whether they be trades unionists or the chardonnay socialist crowd. Their original club song being based on the Russian traditional "Song of the Volga Boatmen" may contribute to the stereotype.
  • Geelong Cats (Vic)
    • A.K.A: Seagulls (archaic), Pivotonians (archaic), Catters, Pussycats, Pussies
    • Joined League: 1897
    • Joined AFLW: 2019
    • Colours: Navy blue and white
    • Premierships (men): 1925, 1931, 1937, 1951, 1952, 1963, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2022
    • Supporter stereotype: Farmers and other people who live in the countryside or bogans from Geelong's seedy ghetto-like suburbs, almost every single person you will ever meet from the city of Greater Geelong.
      • Extremely touchy about being the only non-capital city team (until the Gold Coast got going). This has led to their supporters becoming almost as fanatical as the Collingwood supporters, only orders of magnitude more popular with Australian society.
      • Extremely violent when the team is not doing well. Marginally less so when they are. Cats posters in G-town shop windows are disturbingly reminiscent of "no Jews or dogs allowed". Hilarity Ensues when an obnoxious loud-mouthed Collingwood fan... does anything or says anything about football during the season, when the signs are up all over the place, it results in the police intervening because from a legal standpoint the Collingwood fan is committing An act that no person, sober and sound of mind, would partake in.
      • Extremely everything football; the social scene of the whole city revolves around the sport and their club, just about everyone supports the Cats and the few exceptions to this rule are almost always Collingwood supporters. The club itself is an exception to the binge drinking, substance abuse, brutal nightclub assaults, brutal leaving-the-party-with-someone-else's-barely-conscious-partner assaults, brutal hotel-room assaults and brutal on-field assaults. Seriously though, the Geelong Football club has a complete absence of these incidents that are dogging other clubs in the league, probably because these acts are considered an average night on the town for their supporter base. In truth, part of the reason for the sobriety of the players is the bizarre (and prevailing) view amongst the (tragically) large bogan population of Geelong that bashing a Geelong football player in a nightclub or any other nightlife venue somehow entitles them to take their place in the team.
  • Gold Coast Suns (Qld)
    • Joined League: 2011
    • Joined AFLW: 2020
    • Colours: Red, gold, sky blue
    • Supporter stereotype: Fairweather fans, similar to Brisbane. The Suns really began to catch the eye of southern Queensland when they started to play competitively in 2013, rather than their lacklustre efforts in 2011 and 2012, only to drop again in the 2015 season.
  • Greater Western Sydney Giants (NSW)
    • Joined League: 2012
    • Joined AFLW: 2017
    • Colours: Orange, charcoal and white
    • Supporter stereotype: They don't have any supporters, and people that do attend their matches only show up because the AFL hands out thousands of free tickets to every match. Their home games against the Sydney Swans (the other Sydney team) result in what looks like a Swans home game, and the eventual pitied golf clapping from the Swans fans as they go down by at least fifty points. Kind of like the Arizona Coyotes, except having an ice hockey team in the desert makes more sense than this.
      • At least until Round 1, 2014 when they beat their cross-town rivals comfortably and suddenly fans started to take notice. Then things really picked up in the 2015 season.
      • Also Canberrans, as the team plays a few home games a season there. Somewhat strangely, these are the only games that tend to sell out, leading to talk that maybe the team should just be based there permanently.
  • Hawthorn/Tassie Hawks (Vic, Tas)
    • A.K.A: Hawkers, Mayblooms (archaic), Mustard Pots (archaic), Shit and Piss (derogatory, from their colors of brown and gold)
    • Joined League: 1925
    • Joined AFLW: 2022 (August)
    • Colours: Brown and gold
    • Premierships (men): 1961, 1971, 1976, 1978, 1983, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1991, 2008, 2013, 2014, 2015
    • Supporter stereotype: Upper-middle class Liberal-Party-voting types. Run by a former Liberal state premier.
      • As well as Tasmanians. Well, they do play a few home games there... plans are to hopefully have the team become fully Tasmanian.
      • The dominant team of the last 50 years: Hawthorn have won 12 of the Premierships in this era. (The next highest tally is Carlton, with 8 in the same period.)
      • Jeff Kennett, the former State Premier who is President of the club, was a divisive figure as Premier and remains one today. Oddly, this has had the effect of making non-Liberal-voting Hawks fans more philosophical about defeat: sure, Hawthorn lost, but at least that means Kennett's unhappy.
  • Melbourne Demons (Vic) - Prides itself as being the oldest extant professional sporting club in the world, having existed since 1858.
    • A.K.A: Dees, Fuchsias (archaic - allegedly, the club nickname was changed due to opposition fans calling them the "Pansies")
    • Joined League: 1897
    • Joined AFLW: 2017
    • Colours: Red and navy blue
    • Premierships:
      • Men: 1900, 1926, 1939, 1940, 1941, 1948, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1959, 1960, 1964, 2021
      • Women: 2022 (Season 7)note 
    • Supporter stereotype: Old money types who own Range Rovers despite never going out of the city, except to go skiing, which is what they do instead of attending games.
  • North Melbourne Kangaroos (Vic)
    • A.K.A: North, Kangas, 'roos, Shinboners (archaic, but still occasionally used, usually in references to "Shinboner spirit")
    • Joined League: 1925
    • Joined AFLW: 2019 (as "North Melbourne/Tasmania")
    • Colours: Royal blue and white
    • Premierships: 1975, 1977, 1996, 1999
    • Supporter stereotype: What supporters?
      • More accurately: Tough-as-nails, but not necessarily bright, football tragics.
      • Finding an Australian that is sympathetic to the club's plight is difficult because they'll either support another team, fanatically, or dislike the sport as a whole.
      • The second team that paid sixty million to become Hobart's team and play four games a year in the struggling Tasmania. Now, to have the Grand Final played at Aurora Stadium...
  • Port Adelaide Power (SA)
    • A.K.A: Port
    • Joined League: 1997
    • Joined AFLW: 2022 (August)
    • Colours: Black, white, teal (presumably to make Freo feel better about their ugly shirts)
    • Premierships (men): 2004 (36 more in the South Australian National Football League)
    • Supporter stereotype: Much the same as Collingwood, except living in Adelaide. The club's state-league branch, which predates the national league by a century or so, is even called the Magpies. And its guernsey design there is usually described as "prison bars". Official The Rival of the Crows, with a minor unofficial rivalry with Geelong.
      • Considered a Joke Character or One Trick Pony after their humiliating hundred-point loss to Geelong in the 2007 Grand Final, but after an impressive 2013 and 2014 season, Port Adelaide seem to be improving. In fact, in 2014 they got within 4 points of making the Grand Final.
      • Port Adelaide made a comeback in 2020 and became the minor premiers of that season, while also managing the rare achievement of lasting the whole season on top of the latter. They only failed to make the Grand Final because of the rowdiness of one of their own players.
      • As of the 2022 Grand Final, Port Adelaide is the only team in the AFL that has never "won" a wooden spoon.
  • Richmond Tigers (Vic)
    • A.K.A: Bitchmond (pejorative, especially when they accuse the umpires of helping opposition clubs), Tiges, Poormond (pejorative)
    • Joined League: 1908
    • Joined AFLW: 2020
    • Colours: Yellow and black
    • Premierships (men): 1920, 1921, 1932, 1934, 1943, 1967, 1969, 1973, 1974, 1980, 2017, 2019, 2020
    • Supporter stereotype: Working class "bogans" (for those in the US, think "white trash", for those in the UK think "Chav" or more precisely "Diet Chav-lite"). Also, in the past decade or so, hold very high hopes for the Tigers to go deep into finals, only to have them fall just short of even making finals. Didn't make the finals between 2001 and 2013. Averted in 2017 when they went on to win the premiership, leading to further success in 2019 and 2020.
      • Even non-supporters have to agree that Richmond have the best club song in the league.
  • St Kilda Saints (Vic)
    • A.K.A: Sainters
    • Joined League: 1897
    • Joined AFLW: 2020
    • Colours: Black, white and red
    • Premierships (men): 1966
    • Supporter stereotype: Long-suffering. Kind of like Chicago Cubs supporters in the USA...
      • Once again, potentially explainable by the fact that the Saints are often nailed, bolted and hard welded to the bottom of the ladder. This was particularly true during Essendon's heyday around the year 2000...
      • It goes back further than that. The Saints have only ever won one flag, and hold the records for the longest losing streak and most wooden spoons (last-place finishes) in the league, as well as the second longest ever premiership drought (70 years, just shy of Sydney's 72 years).
      • It gets worse. They have been playing since 1873. 1873. Their first premiership flag was won in 1966, by one point. These poor buggers average worse than one premiership a century.
      • Their chance at a second flag in 2010, has resulted in two games; the first was a draw. The second was a loss.
      • The rest of Australia (barring, of course, Collingwood supporters) offered their condolences on such a tragic occasion.
  • Sydney Swans (NSW - Formerly South Melbourne)
    • A.K.A. Swannies, South (archaic), Blood-stained angels (archaic), Bloods (archaic, but still sometimes used)
    • Joined League: 1897 as South Melbourne - Relocated to Sydney in 1982
    • Joined AFLW: 2022 (August)
    • Premierships (men): In South Melbourne: 1909, 1918, 1933. In Sydney: 2005, 2012.
    • Colours: Red and white
    • Supporter stereotype: See Brisbane. Any non-bandwagon NSW Swans fans are also painfully middle to upper-middle class and the kind of people who applaud good play from the other team, gently chide Collingwood supporters not to swear, and refer to the players as "Mr Last Name", although the feral element has been on the rise since the second Sydney premiership. Alternate type: Someone who's been following them for at least three decades and still thinks they're South Melbourne.
      • Possibly one of the least interesting and most ignored teams in the sport. Not that they suck much anymore, but because NSW has Rugby League which supplies arguably more interesting scandals involving sex, drugs and (too) masculine professional athletes.
      • They have become a challenger for Collingwood's title of the most hated team in the league due to their poaching of other team's players, and their salary cap situation, as until 2017 they received a "Cost of Living Allowance" on top of the regular salary cap.
  • West Coast Eagles (WA)
    • A.K.A: Weagles, West Coast Wankers (derogatory), West Coke Eagles (derogatory, see Supporter stereotype)
    • Joined League: 1987
    • Joined AFLW: 2020
    • Colours: Blue and gold
    • Premierships (men): 1992, 1994, 2006, 2018
    • Supporter stereotype: Similar to Hawthorn, but living in Perth.
      • Rarely receives much media attention unless it was Ben Cousins getting busted for drugs (before getting sacked), someone else getting busted for drugs or a sexual assault charge, which has led to an unfair perception in the Eastern States Victoria of the club as a mob of testosterone-powered fratboys who 'roid rage when they're not high on recreational drugs. Well, more so than the rest of the league.
      • They were the first club from outside Victoria to win the premiership in 1992.
  • Western Bulldogs (Vic - Formerly Footscray)
    • A.K.A: Dogs, Doggies, Tricolors (archaic), 'scray, Scraggers (both somewhat archaic)
    • Joined League: 1925
    • Joined AFLW: 2017
    • Colours: Red, white and royal blue
    • Premierships:
      • Men — 1954 (as Footscray), 2016
      • Women — 2018
    • Supporter stereotype: Similar to Richmond, with St Kilda's "long suffering" element added. Also has a similar cliché of supporters in the Asian migrant community, although unlike the Richmond group, these ones seem to understand the game, or at least get worked up enough about losing to torch the odd car when things go worse than what is normal by the club's standards.
      • By "The Saints' long-suffering element", read "won exactly one premiership, longer ago than St Kilda did, and didn't play in a grand final in fifty-five years between 1961 and 2016".
      • They did get to the preliminary final in 2009, but were knocked out by St Kilda. We take solace in the fact that Collingwood were knocked out in the same week. By Geelong. The fact that St Kilda then lost the grand final doesn't make it any better.
      • The former prime minister, Julia Gillard, is a fervent supporter. Make of that what you will.
      • Many tears of happiness were shed in 2016, as Australia cheered them on for their second flag.

  • One other club, University, was part of the VFL from 1908 to 1915. Several clubs went into temporary remission during World War I, but University was the only one that never returned to the league. Sides representing Melbourne University now participate in the Victorian Amateur Football Association.

  • 'Joined the league' dates are of the club's participation in the AFL, and not the VFL established dates that many clubs were technically formed.

The introduction of the GWS Giants and the Gold Coast Suns is part of an effort on the part of the AFL to increase their profile in the states of New South Wales and Queensland, which primarily follow rugby league as their football code. For a while, the Gold Coast team was going to be a relocated North Melbourne, but this fell through when they decided they didn't fancy moving after all (this came after years where the club had renamed itself simply the "Kangaroos Football Club" and were living in a limbo between representing North Melbourne, the Gold Coast, Canberra and Mars). After that particular debacle, the two new clubs were founded from scratch.

Tasmania, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory don't have full-time representation in professional football, despite the game being extremely popular in the former two.note  Tasmania has launched a campaign to get a team of their own in the AFL too, after decades of seeing all their best players have to move interstate to play at the top level. Even though Tasmania has produced some genuine AFL talent, the AFL doesn't take 'calls' for a Tasmanian team seriously. While no teams (yet) call Tasmania or the territories home, both the AFL and AFL Women's play regular-season games in each area.

On the men's side, Hawthorn plays about a third of its home schedule in Launceston (Tasmania) while North Melbourne hosts a couple of games in Hobart. After the 2022 season, the Tasmanian government reached an agreement in-principle with the league for a team, but it's still contingent on securing federal government funds for a new stadium in Hobart, and getting approval from 12 of the 18 current teams. Tasmania's hope is to secure an expansion team, but since that would give the league an uneven-numbered 19th team, the questions of whether to further expand to 20 or to restructure the league would be on the table. The possibility of struggling North Melbourne permanently relocating to Tasmania is also in the mix.

Melbourne has worked out an agreement with the government of the Northern Territory and plays a game each at Darwin and Alice Springs every year, and GWS has a second home in Canberra (Australian Capital Territory). As for AFL Women's, Adelaide has a formal relationship with the NT government, and North Melbourne has a similar relationship with Tasmania. Accordingly, Adelaide plays one or two games per season in Darwin, and North Melbourne takes some home games to both Hobart and Launceston. The GWS women also use Canberra as a second home.

In the media:

  • The Club - Play and movie
  • The Great Macarthy - movie
  • Australian Rules - movie
  • Specky Magee - book series
  • And The Big Men Fly - TV series
  • A commercial for Commonwealth Bank mixed this with making fun of Americans by showing an American marketing company confusing this with American football.
    American Marketing Guy: We have sponsored a football game between the Americans and the Australians.
    Aussie Bank Guy: Wait. Aussie Rules Football?
    American (offended): Oh. Well, maybe we think we rule football.
  • Tigers and Devils, an incredibly well-written Queer Romance by Sean Kennedy centring around a Rules footy player and his boyfriend-cum-long term partner as they struggle with publicity and coming out.
  • Round the Twist had an episode where Pete temporarily became a local footy star, and it being set in Victoria the type of footy was...
  • In Footrot Flats: The Dog's Tail Tale, Rangi takes a speccie over Wal. Wal is less than impressed, especially since he had intended to play Rugby Union.
  • The local Aussie Rules team is an important element in the TV series Something In The Air, with the local priest being one of the best players.
  • One episode of Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries (which is basically a love letter to Melbourne by way of lots of people dropping dead there in the 1920s) features rivalries between two VFL teams as a possible motive for murder. One of the teams is Western; the other, Abbotsford, is based in a real suburb but seems to have been made up. Incidentally, Miss Fisher herself, though very posh, is a "lapsed" Collingwood fan (she grew up poor in Collingwood and only came into money when her father unexpectedly inherited a British barony).