|1996 VFL Premiership Season|
|Premiers|| Springvale |
|Minor premiers|| Frankston |
(1st minor premiership)
The 1996 Victorian Football League season was the 115th overall season of the Australian rules football competition. The premiership was won for the second consecutive season by the Springvale Football Club, after it defeated Frankston in the Grand Final on 22 September by three points; it was the third premiership won by the club.
The 1996 season was first season in which the competition was known as the Victorian Football League, after having previously been known as the Victorian Football Association; although it was the second season contested after the Victorian Football Association's board of management was dissolved and administration of the competition was turned over to the Victorian State Football League. Under the VSFL, the competition was restructured as a state league to serve as a supporting and developmental competition for the Victorian clubs in the Australian Football League;  as part of this transition, the league began a new expansion into regional Victoria from this season.
At the end of the 1994 season, the administration of the former Victorian Football Association was merged into the Victorian State Football League – an administrative body which administered football in Victoria and served as the Australian Football League's Victorian arm. The VSFL intended to transform the VFA into a state-level football league which could serve as a developmental and minor grade system for Victoria's AFL teams, in the same manner that the South Australian National Football League and West Australian Football League supported their AFL teams' interests.  Under the VSFL's vision, the state league would comprise: 
In 1995, the VSFL began transitioning towards this vision by abolishing the VFA's Under-19s competition and reducing the number of clubs from twelve to nine. 
The first announcements about the composition of the league for the 1996 season were made in August 1995, when two powerhouse teams from regional Victoria confirmed they would be joining the VFL as part of the regional expansion. These clubs were: 
The VSFL indicated that it would phase in teams from its other two regional zones – Bendigo and Ovens & Murray – from 1997 or later, depending on the success of Traralgon and North Ballarat. It also confirmed that it would reduce the number of Melbourne-based teams from nine to eight, but did not at this stage nominate which club would be expelled or merged. 
The remainder of the changes to be made for 1996 were announced in early October 1995. The changes were: 
Werribee and Williamstown were given an ultimatum of 31 October to agree to merger terms. If they could agree to terms for a merger, they would be compensated by having their competition fees waived in the near term; if they could not agree to terms for a merger, one would face expulsion.  The VSFL provided the clubs with a copy of the SANFL's Woodville-West Torrens merger agreement, widely considered at the time to be Australian rules football's most successful top level merger, as a guide.  The clubs entered merger negotiations in good faith, but talks ultimately reached an impasse over the choice of home ground: neither club would accept the other's as a permanent home; and Werribee would not accept a solution in which matches were divided in the long-term between Point Gellibrand Oval and Chirnside Park, arguing that it would become an eternal cause of infighting within the merged committee if a binding decision on long-term home ground were not made at the time of the merger.  The closest the clubs came to a merger agreement was a proposal to name the club the Williamstown-Werribee Football Club, compete in a blue and gold guernsey as the Western Seagulls, and split games between the two home grounds for two years before moving permanently to Chirnside Park in 1998 – but Williamstown still refused to acquiesce on the issue of home ground.  During the merger talks, rallies were held at Williamstown to protest the merger, attracting high-profile supporters including former Premier of Victoria and member for Williamstown Joan Kirner; and club members made it known that they would prefer to see the club wound up than merged. 
On 26 October, following the failure of merger talks, the VSFL announced that the eighth licence would be awarded to Williamstown, and that Werribee would be expelled from the VFL.  The announcement was met with considerable surprise, as most had expected Williamstown to be the club expelled: Williamstown, while historically strong, was in a weak position both on-field (winless in 1995) and off-field; while Werribee, historically weak but enjoying the benefits of population growth in the outer west, was thriving in the most successful period of its existence.  Werribee president Bruce Montgomery believed his club to be stronger than Williamstown, and suspected political influences had contributed to the decision;  and that although Werribee was $200,000 in debt at the time, it was solvent provided it was competing in the VFL. 
Werribee fought back over the following two weeks to secure re-admission to the competition, and a rally in support of the club drew 2,500 fans.  It put forward a proposal to compete stand-alone, with no affiliation to any Under-18 club, and with the support of the Wyndham Council for a $500,000 upgrade of Chirnside Park,  but the VSFL board voted against the proposal on 5 November.  Finally, the club considered its legal options, planning to argue that the VSFL had distributed its eight metropolitan licences irresponsibly, and that the changed nature of the merged Preston Bullants–Northern Knights club meant that it might not necessarily count amongst those eight metropolitan licences;  after receiving advice that Werribee's challenge could be successful, the VSFL relented and agreed to grant Werribee re-admission. The terms of the re-admission were similar to Werribee's initial proposal, and it became the only club with no affiliation with any Under-18s team, nor any structure of local feeder teams. 
|Saturday, 31 August|
|Werribee 8.7 (55)||def. by||Springvale 13.16 (94)||North Port Oval (crowd: 1,192)|||
|Sunday, 1 September|
|Williamstown 19.19 (133)||def.||Port Melbourne 18.13 (121)||North Port Oval (crowd: 3,771)|||
|Saturday, 7 September|
|Werribee 13.19 (97)||def.||Williamstown 9.5 (59)||North Port Oval|||
|Sunday, 8 September|
|Springvale 17.11 (113)||def.||Frankston 9.10 (64)||North Port Oval|||
|Saturday, 14 September|
|Frankston 9.5 (59)||def.||Werribee 5.3 (33)||North Port Oval (crowd: 2,883)|||
|1996 VFL Grand Final|
|Sunday 22 September |
|Springvale||def.||Frankston||Optus Oval (crowd: 8,183)|||
|Umpires: A. Malcolm, M. Sexton, T. Shearer|
Norm Goss Memorial Medal: Kain Taylor (Springvale)
|K. Taylor 3, Baldwin 2, Evans 2, Davison, Delarue, Smith, Yeats||Goals||Damien Clarke 2, Millane 2, S. Ryan 2, Atkinson, Daniel Clarke, Mackay, Mead|
|Yeats (cut head)||Injuries|
|Yeats, for striking Moore in the first quarter||Reports|
Graeme Yeats (Springvale) kicked the winning goal with 47 seconds remaining, after marking on the goal-line and kicking from a tight angle.
The Victorian Football League (VFL) is an Australian rules football league in Australia serving as one of the second-tier regional semi-professional competitions which sit underneath the fully professional Australian Football League. It includes teams from clubs based in the Eastern states of Australia: Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.
The Werribee Football Club, nicknamed the Tigers, is an Australian rules football club, based in Werribee. The club was formed in 1964 and currently plays in the Victorian Football League (VFL). It is the western-most Melbourne-based VFL club as of 2021.
The Casey Football Club, nicknamed the "Demons" and formerly the "Scorpions", is an Australian rules football club based in Cranbourne East, Victoria. The club, which was known until 2005 as the Springvale Football Club and the Casey Scorpions (2006–16) and was based in Springvale, plays in the Victorian Football League (VFL). It has a reserves affiliation with the Melbourne Football Club.
The Williamstown Football Club, nicknamed The Seagulls, is an Australian rules football club based in Melbourne. The club currently competes in the men's and women's Victorian Football League and VFLW competitions.
The Port Melbourne Football Club, nicknamed The Borough, is an Australian rules football club based in the inner-Melbourne suburb of Port Melbourne. The club was founded in 1874 and has been competing in the Victorian Football Association/League (VFL) since 1886.
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