Founded in 1877 in Footscray, an inner-western suburb of Melbourne, they gained admission to the VFA in 1886 after amalgamating with the Footscray Cricket Club to form a senior football club.
The club won nine premierships in the VFA before gaining entry to the VFL in 1925.
26 April 1883
The situation for over 100 years prior to 1996 is that the club was the Footscray Football Club. An unelected new executive came to power at the end of the 1996 season and this new group banished our name, achieving this change without notifying the members and without a referendum of Footscray Football club members which was the correct requirement to effect such a sweeping change of this sort.
Bone Mill Fellows
yield to none
After the 1924 season, the club challenged the premiers of the VFL, Essendon, to a charity match, otherwise known as the Championship of Victoria, for the benefit of opera singer Dame Nellie Melba's Limbless Soldiers' Appeal. Footscray recorded an upset victory, winning by 28 points. The win was a significant factor in Footscray gaining admission to the VFL.
The club adopted its current nickname during the 1928 VFL season after a bulldog ran onto the field and accidentally led the players out against Collingwood at the Whitten Oval.
Newspapers record Australian rules football being played in the Melbourne suburb of Footscray in the mid-1870s, during which time a local junior football club was formed.
In 1880, the club changed its name to the ‘Prince Imperials’ in honour of Napoléon, Prince Imperial, the heir to French throne, who had recently died in battle.
The club reverted to ‘Footscray’ a few years later.
The club adopted its current nickname during the 1928 season after a bulldog ran onto the Whitten Oval and accidentally led the players out against Collingwood.
Supporters felt that the bulldog typified Footscray's "bulldog spirit" that season, and it became the club's nickname and mascot.
Sons of the Scray
Red, White, and Blue,
We will come out smiling,
If we win or lose.
Others build their teams my lads,
They think they know the game,
But you can't beat the boys
of the Bulldog breed,
That make old Footscrays’ name.
To the tune of
Sons of the Sea
The club's headquarters and training facilities are located in Footscray at Whitten Oval, nicknamed “The Kennel”, its original home ground.
The club played its home matches at Whitten Oval from 1884, except for a brief period at nearby Yarraville Oval, from 1941 to 1943.
The club draws much of its supporter base from Melbourne's traditionally working‑class western region.
They went into the 1954 season as contenders and took out their only VFL premiership, beating Melbourne in that years Grand Final. In the 1961 Grand Final they were runners-up to Hawthorn.
In 1994 and 1995, the Bulldogs again made the finals, only to be eliminated by Melbourne and Geelong, respectively.
In August, Ted Whitten snr. died from prostate cancer; such was his status in the game that he was given a state funeral.
In his honour, the club renamed the Western Oval the Whitten Oval, and a memorial statue of Whitten was erected outside the stadium.