After the 1870 controversy about the fate of the South Yarra Challenge Cup a committee of players was appointed to set the rules. They decided that all the senior clubs should play each other three times and that the two most successful clubs would play off in a grand final to decide the winner but Albert Park refused to accept the changes and they were never implemented. The rule finally accepted was that the two sides who had won the most games would play off for the cup.
Another innovation was to allow 'junior' clubs a five player advantage when playing against any of the big four - Melbourne, Carlton, South Yarra or Albert Park.
The first scratch match was played on Saturday 27 April, before the competitive games proper opened with a Native Australians vs the World match on May 13. The match was scheduled to be played the previous week but was postponed and replaced by a scratch match. The natives were captained by Henry Harrison and vice-captained by ex-Melburnian Tom Wills, and the side won 3-2. Another scratch match was played the following week.
A scheduled match against Carlton on Saturday 10 June didn't take place, and a match on September 2 against the same side at the MCG was abandoned pre-game due to heavy rain. After the rescheduled game ended without a definitive result the two sides went to battle on 7 October in the first ever premiership playoff. Melbourne were beaten, and it would be the last game for Henry Harrison who became ill after and decided to retire.
At the Annual General Meeting held early the next year it was reported that the club won nine, lost two and drew four for the year. They scored 28 goals - seven from the colony's leading goalscorer Loughnan and five from Tom Hepburn
|3 June||South Yarra||WIN|
|17 June||Albert Park||WIN|
|22 July||South Yarra||WIN|
|29 July||Albert Park||WIN|
|19 August||Albert Park||WIN|
|26 August||South Yarra||WIN|
|16 September||South Yarra||WIN|
W. Barker, Larry Bell, John Bennie, James Byrne, Charles Carr, Robert Carr, Tom Colles, J. Dowling, D. Duff, W. Finlay, Charles Forrester, J. Forrester, William Freeman, Ben Goldsmith, E. Gourlay, Ernest Harrison, Henry Harrison, Tom Hepburn, J. Huie, Charles Ireland, Tom Ireland, Andrew Loughnan, Austin Loughnan, F. Marsden, C. McCracken, McLennan, Morrell, William Riggall, H. Ryan, W. Thomas, Edwin Towle, Treacy, O. Williams, W. Williams.
The Age - 08/05/1871
Leader - 13/05/1871
Advocate - 04/05/1871
Advocate - 11/05/1871
The Australasian - 20/05/1871
Weekly Times - 10/06/1871
"Origins of Australian Football: Volume 1" by Mark Pennings
Blueseum 1871 page