The Melbourne Football Club was formed on Saturday 14 May 1859.

I make that claim with support of the following evidence:
The Herald issue of Monday 16 May 1859: "A preliminary meeting of gentlemen interested in the game was subsequently held at the Parade Hotel, with the object of forming a Football Club."

The Argus issue of Monday 16 May 1859: "At the same meeting, a secretary, treasurer, and committee of five were appointed to conduct the affairs of the club, ..."

As also noted in The Argus article [16 May '59], the game played in 1858 was not recognised as Australian Football, but a form of football based on English Public School rules. Some people have unfortunately mis-read other press reports of 1858 and used them to claim that the Melbourne FC was formed that year. For example, a claim has been made that a football match between some residents of South Yarra versus others of inner Melbourne is the first club match. That is untrue - The Herald issue of Saturday 25 September 1858 quite clearly states that the 30 residents of South Yarra and neighbourhood were to play against "an equal number of gentlemen, chiefly connected with the Melbourne Cricket Club." [not the MFC]


The Herald The Argus
THE ARGUS
Monday 18 April 1859

FOOTBALL - On the 1st of May the cricket season closes. Even now rapidly shortening evening, cold winds, and frequent showers, warn the patrons of the bat that their reign is for the nonce nearly at an end. Not that they intend their physical energies to lie dormant until warm weather sets in again, for football clubs in almost all the suburbs are either being formed or re-organised. <snip>
The buzz in the various metropolitan and suburban hives, which promises to end in swarming to the open spaces about the city during the winter months, shows that the necessity for exercise above alluded to is fully appreciated. Amongst the best football clubs who will shortly break ground may be mentioned the Melbourne and South Yarra. The latter, we understand, have already had some little practise together. <snip>
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THE ARGUS
Monday 9 May 1859

Now that the cricket season has been brought to a close, football is fast usurping its place, and several clubs have already commenced playing. The South Yarra were to have a practice match on Saturday, and the ranks of the Melbourne Football Club are assuming respectable proportions, owing, probably, to is being no longer confined to members of the Melbourne Cricket Club. The different schools are also sounding the note of preparation, and many interesting matches are spoken of as already arranged.
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THE HERALD [Melbourne]
Monday 16 May 1859

"Cricket is out; football is in !" So said the throng of hearty, frollicking, holiday-loving boys we encountered on entering the Richmond paddock last Saturday afternoon; and so seemed to think those "children of a larger growth," who went "racing and chasing," and pucking the leathern sphere yelept a football. The first game of the season was played on this day between two sides chosen by Messrs. Bryant and Smith. It was more of a "scratch" than a strict match, owing to there being no fixed rules of play; some of the parties engaged following out the practice of catching and holding the ball, while others strenuously objected to it, contending that the ball should never be "lifted" from the ground otherwise than by foot. The difference of opinion did not, however, prevent the enjoyment of the sport, for the greatest good humour prevailed.

A preliminary meeting of gentlemen interested in the game was subsequently held at the Parade Hotel, with the object of forming a "Football Club." A list of fifty-one members was submitted, and from amongst them the following were selected as a committee to draw up rules, etc.: - Messrs. Wills, Hammersley, Bruce, Smith, and Wray. Mr Sewell was appointed treasurer; and Mr J B Thompson, secretary of the club. A deputation was also appointed to wait on the ground committee of the Melbourne Cricket Club to obtain permission to play on their reserve, at such times as may be hereafter arranged.
THE ARGUS [Melbourne]
Monday 16 May 1859

The football campaign opened on Saturday in the Richmond Paddock with a game played between sides chosen by Messrs Smith and Bryant. It was intended that the match should be confined to members of the Melbourne Football Club, but in consequence of the small number of players present during the early portion of the afternoon, the captains departed from their original intention to a certain extent. Two goals were obtained by Bryant s side; the first owing to a misapprehension on the part of one of the opposite players, and the second by force of numbers. Some annoyance was experienced from the occasional interference of persons not in the game, and a general disposition manifested by the bystanders to lounge about inside the bounds. To obviate the recurrence of this inconvenience, it was proposed at a meeting of members subsequently held, to make application to the Ground Committee of the Melbourne Cricket Club, for the use of the ground on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons. At the same meeting, a secretary, treasurer, and committee of five were appointed to conduct the affairs of the club, in which about 60 gentlemen have already enrolled themselves. The committee will meet on Tuesday afternoon, to draw up a code of rules. This proceeding is the more necessary as exceptions were taken last year to some of the Rugby regulations, which even a perusal of Tom Brown s Schooldays has not made altogether palatable to other than old Rugbians.
THE HERALD
Friday 27 April 1860

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THE ARGUS
Friday 27 April 1860

MELBOURNE FOOTBALL CLUB A MEETING of MEMBERS is called for THIS DAY, at 4.30 pm, at the Pavilion, Melbourne Ground.
J B Thompson, Hon Secretary
THE HERALD
Friday 27 April 1860

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THE ARGUS
Friday 27 April 1860

The Melbourne Football Club holds its first annual meeting this day in the MCC pavilion, when a numerous attendance is expected. The season may almost be pronounced as commenced, but will probably be fairly inaugurated by a match between the Melbourne and Richmond clubs in about a fortnight s time. Anticipated players on both sides are already taking their breathings every afternoon in the different training-grounds.
THE HERALD
Saturday 28 April 1860

Football has now taken the place of cricket, and the various clubs are preparing for their winter campaign. Last Wednesday night the Richmond Football Club was inaugurated, and the following office-bearers were appointed: - Committees- Messrs Bruce, Basovl, Harrison, Nicholls, and Wardill. Treasurer- Mr Kercheval. Hon.Sec. Mr T W Wills.

A meeting was held in the pavilion on the Melbourne ground yesterday, when the Melbourne Football Club of last year was revived, and a new committee, consisting of Messrs T W Wills, T H Smith, A Bruce, J B Thompson, R Morrison, and W Hammersley, with Mr S Woolley, as hon.sec. and treasurer. The first match will be played on the 12th, with twenty men on either side.
THE ARGUS
Saturday 28 April 1860

A general meeting of the Melbourne Football Club was held yesterday, at the Pavilion, on the Melbourne Cricket-ground. Mr Hammersley occupied the chair. On the motion of Mr J B Thompson, seconded by Mr Smith, the offices of treasurer and secretary were combined in the person of Mr Sydney Woolley. The committee for the year consists of Messrs Bruce, Hammersley, Morrison, Smith, Thompson, and Wills. A challenge was read from the Richmond Football Club to play a match on the 12th May, and a return match on the 8th June. It was agreed to accept both. Several new members were added to the already large list, and a motion was passed, inviting intending members to send in their names and subscriptions, either to the secretary or any member of the committee. The same uniform which was worn last year, viz., all white, was adopted. After the meeting a scratch game was got up, in which about 40 gentlemen joined. The ball, which was of rather a novel shape oval, was kicked about merrily until the waning light rendered it difficult to distinguish friends from foes. Although, like Tom Brown s pigs in the White Horse, the players were mostly short of wind and tight of skin, they contrived to make a capital fight of it, and no goal was kicked on either side. Spills were, as usual, numerous, but the utmost good humour prevailed. The Richmond club, we understand, is also very strong this year, so that the matches above alluded to are likely to be well contested. It is said, also, that neither South Yarra nor St Kilda intend to be out of the fun.