The first football fields were rectangular, large and often had trees spotted around the ground. Sometimes the trees were the goals.
The game was called footy in the 1850s. It became known as Victorian Rules when it spread to the other states in the 1870s. In the early twentieth century, with the formation of the Australasian Football Council as the national governing body, which at the time included New Zealand, it was officially called the Australasian Game of Football which evolved to Australian Football.
For several years the captains acted as umpires. Players wore caps and kicked a round ball. There was no set playing time. The first team to score two goals was declared the winner. Many early games ended when it got dark or because of quarrels. Sometimes the game stopped because the footy burst – footballs were way too expensive for spares to be kept on hand.
One of the first games to be reported was played on and after 7 August 1858 between Melbourne Grammar and Scotch College. It was played in the park outside where the Melbourne Cricket Ground is today, on a ground about 600 metres long. After four hours it grew dark, with the scores level at one goal each. The teams played for a total of a further eight hours over another two Saturdays, but no further goals were scored and the game was declared a draw.