The 1886 Victorian Football Association season was the 10th season of the Australian rules football competition. The premiership was won by the Geelong Football Club. It was the club's seventh VFA premiership, and the last won by its senior team.
The senior membership of the Association increased substantially in 1886, from ten clubs in 1885 to a record-high fifteen clubs in 1886. Four clubs were elevated from junior to senior status: Port Melbourne (maroon and navy blue), Footscray (red, white and blue), St Kilda (red and black) and Prahran (light blue and dark blue). The fifth new club was the newly established South Williamstown Football Club (light blue and white), which came into existence out of a dispute between the existing Williamstown Football Club and the Williamstown Cricket Club: the football club was unable to agree to terms with the cricket club for use of the Williamstown Cricket Ground, forcing the football club to play its matches without charging for admission at the unfenced Gardens Reserve; so the rival South Williamstown Football Club was established, and received permission to play its matches at the cricket ground.
At this time, five other provincial senior clubs were full Association members represented on the Board of Management: Ballarat, Ballarat Imperial, South Ballarat, Horsham Trades and Horsham Unions. Due to distance, these clubs played too few matches against the rest of the VFA to be considered relevant in the premiership.
The 1886 season was dominated by Geelong and South Melbourne, the clubs which had between them won all of the previous eight premierships. When the two clubs played their only match against each other for the season on 4 September, both clubs were still undefeated for the year – and, in fact, South Melbourne was undefeated since 1884 – and as such, assuming both clubs continued winning in the final month of the season, this match became seen as a de facto premiership deciding match for the season. The match generated unprecedented public interest, with more than 25,000 spectators attending the South Melbourne Cricket Ground – despite the venue being suitable to accommodate around half that number – and the venue took more than £700 at the gate. Geelong comfortably outplayed South Melbourne in the match, and won by the score of 4.19 to 1.5. Geelong went on to remain undefeated for the season and was awarded the premiership, its seventh in nine seasons; South Melbourne's loss to Geelong was its only for the season, and it finished as runners-up. Carlton finished third.
The below table details the playing records of the fifteen clubs in all matches during the 1886 season. Two sets of results are given:Senior results: based only upon games played against other VFA senior clubs
Total results: including senior games, and games against intercolonial, up-country and junior clubs.
The clubs are listed in the order in which they were ranked in the Sportsman newspaper. The VFA had no formal process by which the clubs were ranked, so the below order should be considered indicative only, particularly since the fixturing of matches was not standardised; this was more noticeably the case in the 1886 season than in other seasons, as the five new senior clubs played few matches against the stronger long-established clubs; South Williamstown, for example, finished with a positive record of 6–3–5 against senior clubs in its first season, but achieved it without playing any of the teams ranked in the top five by the Sportsman. The top three placings were later acknowledged in publications including the Football Record and are considered official.
The Leader newspaper included the three Ballarat-based teams among its final standings. The newspaper ranked South Ballarat, with a senior record of 13–4–1, ahead of Carlton as having the third-best record in the colony, but commented that the club's weak fixture (playing half of its games against the other Ballarat clubs and most of its metropolitan games against weaker clubs) meant that it should not be entitled to third place. The Ballarat-based clubs' senior records are given below.Phil McShane (Geelong) set an Association record by kicking 51 goals for the season; the record stood until 1892.
A New South Wales representative team toured Victoria during May, playing one fully representative match intercolonial match against an Association representative team.From 1886, Association matches were played in four quarters instead of two halves. This was primarily done to allow more frequent changes of end, to ensure that changing wind and light conditions were more evenly shared between the teams.