Originally the teams that didn't make the finals would play a 'night series' at Lake Oval during September. Melbourne made their debut in 1957 but didn't play again until 1965 when they next missed the finals. They were runners-up in 1969 and 1970 before finally winning in 1971.
After that triumph the series went into recess until 1976 when it reemerged as a pre-season competition featuring the top VFL sides playing against the best of the SANFL and WAFL. That arrangement only lasted one year before the competition reverted to a VFL-only competition in 1977. Matches were played midweek throughout the season at Waverley.
In 1979 the competition once again went national with the VFL clubs tackling the WAFL sides along with New South Wales, ACT and Tasmania representative sides. In 1980 the SANFL rejoined and a Queensland side made their debut with a win over Tasmania. By 1982 the state sides were gone, as were the majority of non-Victorian clubs. Tasmania returned in 1983 but suffered a 108 point home loss to Footscray. The next year, though, Queensland took St. Kilda to 11 points but none of the interstate sides made the quarter finals.
With the national competition in full swing in 1987 the SANFL and WAFL sides were cast adrift never to return. Just as the death of the original night series had heralded a Melbourne win, the launch of the new VFL-only format provided another Demons win - their first trophy of any sort since that 1971 triumph.
From 2000-2002 the series was a round robin where each team played three games.
In 2003 the AFL introduced experimental rules, the one which endured the longest being 9pts for goals kicked from outside 50m. At various times the rules also included play-on from shots that hit the post and bounced back into play, 3pts for deliberately rushed behinds and play-on for kicks that travelled backwards.
The 2011 NAB Cup competition first round was played as a three way round-robin due to there being 18 teams involved. The competition reverted to straight knockout from the quarter finals onwards.
For individual match statistics refer to the specific season page.
|Years||Naming Rights Sponsor|
|1970||Radiant Stainless Steel|
|2002-2005||Wizard Home Loans|
|2006-||National Australia Bank|
Biggest win - 60pts - 1971 Night Series Round 1 vs Geelong
Biggest loss - 107 points - 2002 Wizard Cup Match 3 vs Adelaide
Highest score - 22.16.148 - 1980 Escort Cup Round 1 vs Swan Districts
Lowest score (full length match) - 5.9.39 - 1993 Fosters Cup Quarter Final vs West Coast
Highest score against - 220.127.116.11 - 2008 NAB Cup Round 1 vs Geelong