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Although the league was still called the VFL until the start of the 1990 season, the 1999 season was the unofficial 13th 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.
1997 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.
In this new era of the AFL, four of the six interstate clubs - Brisbane Lions, West Coast Eagles, Port Adelaide, Sydney Swans - participated in the 8 club finals series.
- Former Collingwood coach, Leigh Matthews was appointed coach at Brisbane Lions. He had immediate success by taking the Lions from the wooden spoon to 3rd and into the Preliminary Finals.
- Mark Williams replaced John Cahill as coach at Port Adelaide.
- Tim Watson replaced Stan Alves as coach at St Kilda.
- Damian Drum replaced Gerard Neesham as coach at Fremantle.
After playing in last season's Preliminary Finals, Melbourne fell 10 places to 14th. Whilst the premiers for the last 2 seasons, Adelaide fell 8 places to 13th and out of the final series.
North Melbourne finishing 2nd on the ladder won the premiership. Carlton played them in the Grand Final. Finishing 6th on the ladder, Carlton had to play 4 finals matches. Essendon were minor premiers. Whilst Collingwood won the wooden spoon.
Scott Cummings of West Coast Eagles won the Coleman Medal for the leading goalscorer. Shane Crawford of Hawthorn won the Brownlow Medal.
|5||West Coast Eagles|
|4||Western Bulldogs||Semi Final|
|West Coast Eagles|
|Qualifying Final||Carlton||Preliminary Final|
|Qualifying Final||Preliminary Final||North Melbourne|
|2||North Melbourne||North Melbourne|
|7||Port Adelaide||Semi Final||Brisbane Lions|
|Qualifying Final||Brisbane Lions|