The AFL Hall of Fame Tribute Match was a one-off all-star game between two representative sides organised by the Australian Football League to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Australian rules football. The match was intended to celebrate the contribution of State of Origin and interstate matches to the history of the code.
The match was played on 10 May 2008 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in Melbourne, Australia between Victoria (the "Big V") and the "Dream Team" with a crowd of 69,294 in attendance. Victoria won the match by 17 points, 21.11 (137) to 18.12 (120).
In 2007, the AFL announced that it would support a return of the State of Origin concept as a once-off carnival as part of the 150th anniversary of Australian rules football scheduled for 2008. The format of the carnival was not announced at this early stage.
The media featured several opinions on how the series could work without unduly interrupting the AFL season. There were suggestions that each state be individually represented, with a two division format to ensure that there would be no one-sided matches between the stronger states and the weaker states, and there were also suggestions for Victoria to be divided into separate Metro and Country, both of which are features of the annual AFL Under 18 Championships. Many of the options that the AFL considered featured composite teams of weaker states, similar to the Allies team which represented Tasmania, Queensland, New South Wales and the Northern Territory collectively during State of Origin series in the 1990s.
By December, the vision for a full carnival had been reduced to a single all-star match, to be played between Victoria and the Dream Team, a composite team of all other states, territories and countries, on a State of Origin selection basis. The match would be held as a stand-alone match on the weekend between Rounds 7 and 8, on Saturday 10 May. The Dream Team concept was not popular outside Victoria. Personalities who were heavily involved in the interstate rivalries while State of Origin football was still a regular fixture, such as South Australia's Graham Cornes, were very critical that the composite team format deprived non-Victorian players of the honour of wearing the state guernsey. Critics also questioned whether a single match between Victoria and the Dream Team, which was unlike any previous interstate football event, would be an appropriate celebration for the history of interstate football over 150 years. Nevertheless, the single-match format would allow the match to take place with minimal disruption to the AFL season.
There were concerns over player participation, the AFL considered introducing penalties for players who were selected who refused to participate. Instead, players were paid A$5,000 each to compete in the match, and the players agreed to donate the money to the AFL Players Association to be to distributed to three charities, a special past players fund, the Ladder program to combat homelessness and RecLink, which funds football leagues in remote communities in the Northern Territory.
In early 2008 the AFL announced the full details of the match and branded it as the "AFL Hall of Fame Tribute Match", deliberately distancing it from the former State of Origin series. It promoted the event by announcing two captains would be Jonathon Brown (Victoria) and Andrew McLeod (Dream Team).
In April 2008 the AFL announced 40 man squads for both teams, which would later be trimmed to 25 per side. The match was played with an extended interchange bench of seven players instead of four.
Several high profile players pulled out of the match in the final weeks before the game. The most notable was Gary Ablett, who had figured heavily in the event's promotion. Nick Dal Santo and Brad Johnson pulled out for Victoria, and Luke McPharlin and Irishman Tadhg Kennelly dropped out for the Dream Team.
The Allen Aylett Medal for best on ground was awarded to Brendan Fevola, who kicked six goals for Victoria.