The Victorian Football Association was established in 1877. Senior clubs were soon founded in Albert Park, Carlton, East Melbourne, Essendon, Geelong, Hotham, Melbourne, St. Kilda and West Melbourne. Teams were variously admitted and disbanded.
At the end of the 1896 season Carlton, Collingwood, Essendon, Fitzroy, Geelong, Melbourne, South Melbourne and St. Kilda broke away from the VFA to form the Victorian Football League. Footscray, North Melbourne, Port Melbourne Richmond and Williamstown remained. The two organisations then operated concurrently.
In 1913 an agreement was reached between Association and League whereby each body recognised each other's clearances. In 1919, however, the agreement was cancelled. By 1929 the VFA had expanded to 12 teams. In 1931 another agreement was entered into whereby the League and the Association again recognised each other's clearances. It lasted only seven years, and in 1938 the agreement with the League was cancelled.
After World War II the Association registered as a Company. A new constitution was printed and VFA Rules of the Game were copyrighted. In 1949 the Association became affiliated with the Australian National Football Council (ANFC), and the following year represented at the all Australian Football Championships for the first time.
In 1965 the Association cancelled the permit agreement with the League. In 1967 the VFA adopted a Transfer Fee on players to the VFL. Three years later the AFA dropped out of the ANFC.
In 1990 a revamped transfer agreement was reached between the VFA, VCFL and VMFL. In 1993 the VFA signed an affiliation agreement with the VSFL, and the following year the VSFL Board began to oversee VFA football. In 1996 North Ballarat and Traralgon joined the existing nine VFA teams to form the Victorian Football League. The former Victorian Football League was nationalised as the Australian Football League.