It is claimed that the Barwon Football Club was founded in late 1859, shortly after the Geelong Footbal Club which was founded in July 1859. Other records indicate that the club was established in 1856.
Barwon Football Club was supported by local manufacturers and was identified as a working-class club. Geelong Football Club was supported by pastoralists and private schools.
Barwon originally played on the common ground below the Geelong Grammar School which was located on the east side of McKillop St near Moorabool St.
Barwon Football Club played many Melbourne Clubs, including Carlton, Essendon and Melbourne Football Clubs. In 1874 Carlton defeated Barwon by three goals to nil at Princess Park. In a return match the same year in Geelong, Barwon won by one goal to nil.
Barwon Football Club and Geelong Football Club matches were generally controversial. A silver cup donated by a supporter of the game for competition amongst Geelong, Ballarat and Western Districts Football Clubs were bitter battles.
In one match between Barwon and Geelong for the silver cup, Barwon claimed victory, the Geelong players were incensed over particular incidents during the game, especially kicking of the ball into Vilamanta St, Geelong refused to admit defeat.
Relations were strained between the two clubs for two years, with Geelong declining during this period to play Barwon. By 1878 peacemaking prevailed and the teams played a game on neutral ground at Corio. Geelong won that game two goals goals to one.
The rivalry between Barwon and Geelong spurred Geelong to become a much more professional organisation, which eventually led to that club's dominance of football in the Victorian colony over the next decade.
Barwon was a founding member of the VFA in 1877.
The club played at Kardinia Park until it disbanded in 1938
Barwon reformed under Vic Buchanan and Jack Finn after WWII, initially as an under 18 team.
Seniors commenced in 1953.