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Although the league was still called the VFL until the start of the 1990 season, the 1998 season was the unofficial 12th AFL season as the league expanded from 12 clubs to 14 clubs in 1987.

The new clubs were West Coast Eagles and Brisbane Bears. In 1991 Adelaide Crows joined followed by Fremantle Dockers in 1995.

Last season was the start of a new era of the AFL. Footscray changed its name to Western Bulldogs. Brisbane Bears and Fitzroy Lions merged to become Brisbane Lions. And Port Adelaide Power joined retaining the league with 16 clubs.

Club Changes[]

  • Neale Daniher was appointed coach at Melbourne. Neale Daniher had immediate success by taking Melbourne from the wooden spoon to 4th and into the Preliminary Finals.
  • After a poor start to the season, Roger Merrett replaced John Northey as Brisbane Lions coach.
  • Western Bulldogs left Western Oval and started playing their home matches at Princes Park.
  • Geelong fell 10 places to 12th.


Adelaide repeated last season's success by again winning the premiership. From 5th on the ladder, it required them playing 4 finals matches. North Melbourne were minor premiers and played them in the Grand Final. Whilst Brisbane Lions won the wooden spoon.


Tony Lockett of Sydney Swans won the Coleman Medal for the leading goalscorer, the second time in 3 years. Robert Harvey of St Kilda won the Brownlow Medal for the second year in a row.


# 1997 Team Home Ground Coach Captain
1 ▲ 6   2010 Logo North Melbourne.png North Melbourne   MCG   Denis Pagan   Wayne Carey
2 ▲ 1   2010 Logo Western Bulldogs.png Western Bulldogs   Princes Park   Terry Wallace   Scott Wynd
3 ▲ 3   2010 Logo Sydney.png Sydney Swans   SCG   Rodney Eade   Paul Kelly
4   ▲ 12   Melbourne logo 2014.png Melbourne   MCG   Neale Daniher   Todd Viney
5 ▼ 1   2010 Logo Adelaide.png Adelaide   Football Park   Malcolm Blight   Mark Bickley
6 ▼ 5   2010 Logo St Kilda.png St Kilda   Waverley Park   Stan Alves   Nathan Burke
7 ▼ 2   2010 Logo West Coast.png West Coast Eagles   WACA/Subiaco Oval   Mick Malthouse   John Worsfold
8 ▲ 6   2010 Logo Essendon.png Essendon   MCG   Kevin Sheedy   James Hird
9 ▲ 4   2010 Logo Richmond.png Richmond   MCG   Jeff Gieschen   Matthew Knights
10 ▼ 1   2010 Logo Port Adelaide.png Port Adelaide   Football Park   John Cahill   Gavin Wanganeen
11   2010 Logo Carlton-Football.png Carlton   Princes Park   David Parkin   Craig Bradley
12 ▼ 10   2010 Logo Geelong.png Geelong   Kardinia Park   Gary Ayres   Barry Stoneham
13 ▲ 2   2010 Logo Hawthorn.png Hawthorn   Waverley Park   Ken Judge   Jason Dunstall
14 ▼ 4   2010 Logo Collingwood.png Collingwood   Victoria Park   Tony Shaw   Gavin Brown
15 ▼ 3   Fremantle-dockers.png Fremantle   WACA/Subiaco Oval   Gerard Neesham   Peter Mann
16 ▼ 8   2010 Logo Lions.png Brisbane Lions   Gabba   John Northey
  Roger Merrett
  Michael Voss

Finals Series[]

  Qualifying Final
4  Melbourne
5  Adelaide Semi Final
  Qualifying Final  St Kilda Preliminary Final
8  Essendon  Melbourne
1  North Melbourne  North Melbourne Grand Final
 North Melbourne
  Qualifying Final Preliminary Final  Adelaide
2  Western Bulldogs  Western Bulldogs
7  West Coast Eagles Semi Final  Adelaide
  Qualifying Final  Sydney Swans
3  Sydney Swans
6  St Kilda
Key:       Losing team progressing       Winning team progressing