Although the league was still called the VFL until the start of the 1990 season, the 1988 season was the unofficial second AFL season as the league expanded from 12 clubs to 14 clubs in 1987. The new clubs were West Coast Eagles and Brisbane Bears.
John Todd replaced the one-season coach Ron Alexander at West Coast Eagles. Richmond brought in one of the favorite players, Kevin Bartlett as their coach. Due to ill-health, Allan Jeans was replaced by Alan Joyce as Hawthorn coach for the season.
Collingwood had the biggest improvement for the season, climbing 10 places to finish second. Whilst North Melbourne fell 7 places to 11th and out of the finals series.
After being losing finalist in 1987, Hawthorn went one better by winning the minor premiers and the premiership. They played Melbourne in the Grand Final who finished 5th in the ladder and had to win 3 finals matches to reach the final. Whilst St Kilda won the wooden spoon.
The Coleman Medal for the leading goalscorer was awarded to Jason Dunstall of Hawthorn. Gerard Healy of Sydney won the Brownlow Medal.
|Qualifying Semi Final|
|Qualifying Final||Preliminary Final||Melbourne|
|3||Carlton||Eliminating Semi Final||Melbourne|
|4||West Coast Eagles|