NSW Australian Football History Society

Image courtesy of the NSW Football History Society.


The NSW Australian Football History Society Inc. is a non-profit organisation whose role is to research, gather, document, catalogue and arrange for the safe keeping of objects and items of significant interest to the history of Australian Football in New South Wales and more particularly, in Sydney.

The Society was formed in 2010 by a small group of enthusiasts interested in the history of football in New South Wales with the support of the AFL NSW/ACT.  In 2019, AFL NSW/ACT and the NSW Australian Football History Society engaged in a formal partnership to progress the game so everyone can share in its heritage.

The Society now numbers almost 100 and actively welcomes new members interested in the work, aims and goals of the Society and the history of Australian Football.

For further information, please visit their website.


Australian Football has enjoyed a rich and at times challenging history in New South Wales. One of the founders of the game, Tom Wills, was born and lived his early years in NSW before moving across the border to country Victoria. The first recorded game of Australian football was played in 1877 on the Albert Ground, Redfern between the Rugby Union Club, Waratah, and the Carlton Football Club from Melbourne.

Three years later, the NSW Football Association was formed in Sydney in 1880 and the following year the first Australian rules game between NSW and Victoria was played in Sydney. The game was developed in other parts of the state around the same time, including Wagga, Albury and the Hunter Valley in 1881 and Broken Hill in 1885. In 1888 teams from the Hunter region began contesting for the Black Diamond Cup, which is today considered Australia’s oldest sporting trophy.

The game went from strength to strength in the Riverina and Broken Hill, in part due to southern farmers migrating to the former and prospectors from the Victorian gold fields to the latter. Meanwhile the game endured some challenging periods in Sydney, particularly 1895-1903 where participation dropped off and again during the depression of the 1930s, before soaring in popularity during WWII through the re-location of many interstate servicemen which increased participation, the standard of play and the number of spectators.

New competitions then began to evolve in many areas of the state where the game was previously unknown with leagues established in the North West (1962), South Coast (1969), Central Coast (1975), North Coast (1982), Central West (1982) and Sapphire Coast (1984).

In 1982 South Melbourne FC relocated to Sydney and were renamed the Sydney Swans FC. This, along with a new administration from the mid-1980s saw school and junior development advance. To sustain the development and the need for supporting finance and expertise the game’s administration was absorbed by the AFL in 1998 whose influence spread throughout the state resulting in a more professional management, producing quite significant growth each year since.

Between 1996 and 2018, the Sydney Swans contested in the AFL Finals Series on a remarkable 20 occasions including winning premierships in 2005 and 2012.

The Greater Western Sydney Giants were established in 2012 and have competed in the 2016, 2017 and 2018 AFL Finals series, whilst also establishing a women’s team as a founding member of the AFLW Competition in 2017.

The North East Australian Football League (NEAFL) was formed in 2011 to provide an elite second-tier competition for reserve sides from the Sydney Swans, GWS Giants, Brisbane Lions and Gold Coast Suns, together with aspiring players, coaches and umpires from NSW (Sydney University), Queensland (Southport Sharks, Aspley Hornets & Redland Bombers), Northern Territory (NT Thunder) and ACT (Canberra Demons, who are based in the ACT but also represent Southern NSW).

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