Representatives from Melbourne University had requested that the VFL assist in the formation of a club in 1898, but they had to wait another 10 years to enter the competition.
Unanimously voted in to the VFL in 1908 as the first ever addition to the league, the "Students" were followed by Richmond two weeks later. An earlier University club had played in the VFA until folding shortly before the 1889 season began.
Originally sharing the East Melbourne Cricket Ground with Essendon they moved to the MCG in their final years. They never fielded any professional players, and each player had to have been university students or hold a degree. Any player who had matriculated could join the club without first having to seek a clearance from their original side.
In 1914 a rule change proposed that any graduates or students at Melbourne University or affiliated colleges could join the club without a permit.
In total the club lost 97 of 126 games in its time in the league, including the last 51 from 1911 to 1914. In their last season the VFL altered regulations to allow "any scholar of two years' standing of a secondary school to play for the club".
The club began to struggle when examinations were moved to August, then went into recess at the beginning of World War I when a high number of players enrolled in the army. Subsequently the club suffered the highest casualty rate of any VFL side and did not return to the league when the war ended.
A union between the two sides was first suggested before the 1914 season, but University struggled through winless before eventually giving in. Though it is often suggested that University merged with Melbourne this is not the case, the Redlegs simply took the cream of their players. Roy Park, Jack Brake, Claude Bryan, Jack Doubleday and Percy Rodriguez joined the Redlegs.
The club split into two after the war, later known as the Blues and the Blacks, and continue to play in the amateurs competition to this day.
|1||62||Round 17, 1911||MCG|
|2||55||Round 11, 1912||MCG|
|3||47||Round 7, 1914||MCG|
|4||28||Round 8, 1911||MCG|
|5||27||Round 2, 1913||MCG|
|5||27||Round 16, 1914||MCG|
|7||19||Round 6, 1909||East Melbourne|
|8||11||Round 18, 1910||MCG|
|9||9||Round 11, 1913||MCG|
|10||8||Round 2, 1912||MCG|
|1||14.15.99||Round 2, 1913||MCG|
|2||14.9.93||Round 7, 1914||MCG|
|3||13.14.92||Round 11, 1912||MCG|
|4||13.13.91||Round 17, 1911||MCG|
|5||11.9.75||Round 16, 1914||MCG|
|6||10.8.68||Round 2, 1912||MCG|
|7||9.13.67||Round 8, 1911||MCG|
|8||9.11.65||Round 6, 1909||MCG|
|9||7.20.62||Round 11, 1913||MCG|
|10||9.6.60||Round 18, 1910||MCG|
|1||60||Round 6, 1908||East Melbourne|
|2||14||Round 9, 1910||MCG|
|3||4||Round 15, 1908||East Melbourne|
|1||1.13.19||Round 6, 1908||East Melbourne|
|2||4.4.28||Round 15, 1909||MCG|
|3||4.11.35||Round 9, 1910||East Melbourne|
|4||7.12.54||Round 15, 1908||MCG|