The exact origins of Australian Rules football are a matter of debate. There is speculation that it was influenced by Gaelic football as well as indigenous ball games such as Marnbrook. What is known is that within the settler population there were a number of non-codified sports being played by all the various migrant groups, many referred to as folk football.
A key moment occurred on the 7th of August 1858 with a match played in what is now known as the suburb of Richmond, next to what would become the most significant building in Australia’s sport culture, The Melbourne Cricket Ground. The game played between two established schools of the day, Melbourne Grammar and Scotch College. Whilst exact details were not recorded, what is known is that the game was played with a round ball, was half a mile in length and played between 40 players per side. This defining event is commemorated by a statue and plaque adjacent to the Melbourne Cricket ground. By 1859 games became more frequent and in May official laws were agreed upon and Australian Rules football was born.
One of the most obvious points of different between AFL and other football codes is the ground, an oval as apposed to a rectangle. It may not seem obvious however this came about for practical reasons. As soon as Britain began to colonise they began building that essential British countryside feature, the cricket pitch. Cricket is played during the summer months and it was felt that cricketers needed an activity to keep themselves fit and active during the off-season. Australian sports pioneer Tom Wills even went to far as to recommend football as a method of ground maintenance.