A Brief History of the Southern Football Netball League

A Brief History of the Southern Football Netball League

The south and south–east regions of Melbourne have a rich, diverse and sometimes colourful football history.

The Southern Football Netball League as we know it today is made up of clubs spread over a vast geographical area of the southern and south eastern suburbs of Melbourne. Stretching from Port Melbourne in the inner south, Cranbourne in the outer south east to Mornington in the south.

The former Leagues that lead to the creation of the current S.F.N.L. were:

Caulfield-Oakleigh District Football League 1932 to 1962.

Eastern Suburban Football League 1932 to 1962.

Federal Football League 1909 to 1981.

Eastern Suburbs (Protestant) Churches Football Association 1923 to 1992.

The C.O.D.F.L and the E.S.F.L. merged in 1963 to form the South-East Suburban Football League.

At the end of the 1981 season the F.F.L. lost Springvale to the V.F.A., Mentone and Parkdale had already made it clear that they intended to leave and join the S.E.S.F.L for 1982. This left Noble Park, Cheltenham, Oakleigh District, Clayton, Highett and Moorabbin in a non viable competition. The F.F.L. was forced to go into recess with the remaining 6 clubs joining the First Division of the S.E.S.F.L.

The E.S. (P) C.F.A. disbanded at the end of 1992 with the competition and its remaining clubs merging into the rebranded S.E.S.F.L., the Southern Football League, which then consisted of 45 teams in five divisions.

Since the creation of the new competition in 1993 the Leagues’ club membership, which covered a vast area has changed, as was expected many times due to a number of factors. A number of clubs transferred to other competitions for geographic reasons, others have fallen by the wayside due to changes in demographics and some simply for financial reasons.

One of the aims of the S.F.N.L. is to offer a fun, safe and inclusive environment to all participants and spectators. As a result the League Board decided to widen its reach by launching its inaugural Netball competition in 2012. Whilst there were only seven teams participating in the first season, 2023 has seen this figure increase to in excess of 100 teams and is one of the fastest areas of growth for the League.

In 2015, the League changed its name to the Southern Football Netball League. This change was made following the success of the expanding netball competitions and a growing trend amongst member clubs to officially change their club names to incorporate netball as many were facilitating both sports.

Following the introduction of the elite A.F.L.W. competition, the S.F.N.L. established its inaugural Women’s Football competition in 2017. From 10 teams in the first season, the competition quickly grew to 17 teams over two divisions the following year, highlighting the popularity of women’s participation in the game.

The S.F.N.L. currently boasts 39 clubs playing football in four divisions and over 300 umpires with a footprint from Port Melbourne to Cerberus to Narre Warren. Many clubs also field a Colts under 19 team and a thirds side for those senior players who simply desire to play our game without too much training!

Key initiatives over the last few years have included the addition of South Mornington and Narre South Saints (from the V.A.F.A.) and the expansion of Women’s football by fostering a new club, the Casey Thunder Women’s Football Club.

The widened growth and improvement of the Southern Football Netball League over the last decade reflects the hard work of the Board, administration and its Member Clubs.

1993 Burwood merge with Mount Waverley at the end of the year and play as Mt Waverley-Burwood.

1994 East Camberwell merges with Surrey Hills continuing as Surrey Park. Beaumaris join the V.A.F.A. Lower Plenty join the Northern Football League. Ashburton-Chadstone folds.

1995 DovetonEagles join. Box Hill Adelphians change name to Camberwell Power. Collingwood Districts fold. Fairfield fold. North Blackburn forfeited the last four rounds and subsequently fold. Richmond Rosellas fold after round 4.

1996 Southern Football League reverts to 4 divisions. Carrum Downs join the Mornington Peninsula Nepean Football League. Syndal-Tally Ho, now known as Chadstone (2009) join the V.A.F.A. Camberwell Power fold. St Paul’s Bentleigh change name to St Paul’s-East Bentleigh.

1997 Box Hill Pioneers join the E.F.L.  as Whitehorse Pioneers.

1998 Mt Waverley-Burwood merge with Waverley Amateurs and play as Waverley Blues in the E.F.L. in 1999. Cheltenham Assumption fold.

1999 Southern Football League reverts to 3 divisions. Boronia Park join the Yarra Valley Mountain District Football League. South Melbourne Districts join the VA.F.A. Noble Park & Surrey Park join the Eastern Football League.

2000 Carnegie forfeited their first two matches before entering recess for the remainder of the season. The club officially folded at the end of the season.

2001 Box Hill North leave and join the VA.F.A. Mount Waverley Catholics change name to Mount Waverley.

2002 Southern Cobras/Sandown rejoin.

2003 Parkdale merge with Mentone Amateurs (previously St Patrick’s Mentone) and join the V.A.F.A. Brooklyn join the SFL from the Western Region Football League. Mount Waverley in recess for 1 year.

2004 Cerberus transferred into the SFL after one winless season with the West Gippsland-Latrobe Football League. Dandenong West changed its name to the Dandenong Demons (not to be confused with the Dandenong Redlegs from the VFA). Parkmore fielded a reserve side only in this season. Brooklyn failed to complete the season and subsequently folded. Parkdale (the Seagulls) merged with Mentone Vultures (formerly known as Mentone Amateurs (2000-2003) and St Patrick’s Mentone (1946-2000) to become the Parkdale Vultures. The combine entered C Section in the V.A.F.A.

2006 Skye join. South Mornington leave and join the V.A.F.A. Balwyn leave and join the E.F.L.  Southern Cobras change name to Sandown.

2007 Dingley join. Parkmore go into recess mid-season. Springvale Districts win their first SFL Premiership.

2008 Canterbury join the E.F.L.

2009 A final 5 is introduced to divisions 1 & 2. The Southern Dragons, primarily made-up of players of Asian origin was accepted into the league’s third division.

2010 A final 5 is introduced to division 3. Cerberus fold.

2011 Endeavour Hills Football Club, fielded open-age senior and reserve teams for the very first time.

2012 Hallam join. Tooronga-Malvern change name to East Malvern. Southern Dragons leave and join the V.A.F.A.

2013 Carrum Patterson Lakes join.

2014 Netball continues to grow expanding to 4 divisions.

2015 The League changes its name from Southern Football League to Southern Football Netball League.
Keysborough join from the Mornington Peninsula Nepean Football League (Casey-Cardinia League). Southern Dragons rejoin from the V.A.F.A. going into recess after round 9.

2016 Port Melbourne Colts join from the Western Region Football League. Lyndhurst field a Senior team for the first time.

2017 The Southern Football Netball League expands to four senior divisions in 2018. The bottom six ranked sides in Division 3 will form the newly-created fourth division for next year, alongside Frankston Dolphins and Cerberus, who will return to senior divisional football after several years.

2018 Hampton Park join from the South East Football Netball League. Frankston Dolphins field a Senior team for the first time. Cerberus rejoin.

2020 St Francis Xavier Old Collegians join from the V.A.F.A. and change name to Narre South Saints. South Mornington rejoin from the V.A.F.A. Season 2020 cancelled due to The COVID-19 pandemic.

2021 South Mornington rejoin and Narre South Saints enter

2022 Cranbourne Eagles and Doveton Doves enter.


If you have any information you would like to add to the SFNL’s historical records, feel free to get in touch with League historian Ross McCulloch on 0408 059 472 or via email at rossmcculloch24@gmail.com