The Victorian Football League was a name change for the Victorian Football Association for no real reason other than to take advantage of the vacancy of the name created by the change to the Australian Football League for the previous incarnation of the VFL. This coincided with the admission to the competition of two non Melbourne teams for the first time since Geelong West left the VFA. North Ballarat and Traralgon. In subsequent years, Traralgon left the competition after just two seasons and in 1998 were replaced by a new team from Bendigo. In 2000, the VFL absorbed the reserve teams from the AFL (except for Sydney) with a few clubs joining forces for that season. Sandringham joined forces with Melbourne, Box Hill joined forces with Hawthorn and Werribee joined forces with the Western Bulldogs. The North Melbourne team called themselves the Murray Kangaroos intending to base themselves in the Albury Wodonga region and Preston changed their name to the Northern Bullants.
Coburg joined forces with what was left of Fitzroy, but that only lasted a year and nearly killed Coburg. They were rescued when they joined forces with Richmond. Also in 2001, Williamstown joined forces with Collingwood and Springvale joined forces with St.Kilda. A team from Tasmania was also admitted upon the collapse of their state competition, a move nearly wrecked the game on the Apple Isle and was wound up after the 2008 season.
In 2003 North Melbourne wound up the Murray Kangaroos idea, and joined forces with Port Melbourne. Bendigo joined forces with Essendon in order to rescue their flagging fortunes and the Northern Bullants joined forces with Carlton. That was the end of the mergers as such although North Melbourne and Port Melbourne parted ways in more recent times, and North are went into a divided arrangement with both North Ballarat and Tasmania before Tasmania shut up shop. Springvale changed it's name to Casey upon it's move out to Cranbourne in 2006, and at the end of 2008 St.Kilda and Melbourne switched their VFL partners. Collingwood ended it's association with Williamstown for 2008 and ran a stand alone club again as it had in 2000.
Since the AFL teams joined, the VFL has been using the final eight. The previous two years the final six was used and prior to that the final five.
BEND - BENDIGO; BOXH - Box Hill; CARL - Carlton; COBU - Coburg; CO/F - Coburg/Fitzroy; COLL - Collingwood; ESSE - Essendon; FRAN - Frankston; GEEL - Geelong; MKAN - Murray Kangaroos; NBAL - North Ballarat; NBUL - Northern Bullants; PTME - Port Melbourne; PRES - Preston; RICH - Richmond; SAND - Sandringham; SPRI - Springvale; STKI - St.Kilda; TASM - Tasmania; TRAR - Traralgon ; WERR - Werribee; WILL - Williamstown
GREY SHADING - Teams that made the finals