1997 AFL Premiership season
Teams 16
Premiers Western Bulldogs

(2nd premiership)

Minor premiers St Kilda

(2nd minor premiership)

Pre-season cup Carlton

(1st pre-season cup win)

Matches played 185
Attendance 6,401,379 (34,602 per match)
Highest attendance 98,027 (Grand Final, St Kilda v Western Bulldogs)
Coleman Medallist Tony Modra (Adelaide)
Brownlow Medallist Robert Harvey (St Kilda)
 < 1996 AFL Season 1998 >

The 1997 AFL Premiership season was the 101st annual VFL/AFL season contested between the sixteen teams of the AFL league, and was won by the third place Western Bulldogs following the 1997 Grand Final.

The first season following the merger of the Fitzroy and Brisbane football clubs to form the Brisbane Lions, the 1997 premiership season was one of the closest modern seasons in league history. With five rounds remaining, only three wins separated first placed Geelong (11 wins) and 13th placed Hawthorn (8 wins). St Kilda won the Minor Premiership with 15 wins and 7 losses; however, the competition was won by the Western Bulldogs who had come third after the home-and-away season, with 14 wins and 8 losses.

Notable Events

  • Six year Geelong coach and former-North Melbourne half forward Malcolm Blight replaced Robert Shaw as coach of the Adelaide Crows, lifting the team from 12th on the ladder in the previous season to 4th.
  • Prior to the beginning of the season, the Footscray Bulldogs changed the official club name to the Western Bulldogs.
  • Following a poor showing in the mid-season, Richmond coach Robert Walls was replaced with the former Footscray defender, Jeff Gieschen.
  • Following the folding of the Fitzroy Lions, the Port Adelaide Power was made able to make the transition into the AFL under SANFL coach John Cahill, the only team to make such a transition from a league outside the state of Victoria and the original VFL. They ultimately ended up in 9th position.
  • The Western Bulldogs played their final game at the Whitten Oval in Round 21 against the West Coast Eagles, winning by three goals.


  • With 15 wins, 7 losses and a percentage of 119.60, St Kilda where the 1997 Minor Premiers on top of the ladder.
  • With 4 wins and 18 losses, the Melbourne Football Club finished the season with the wooden spoon.
  • St Kilda player Robert Harvey, despite having one less vote than the Western Bulldogs forward Chris Grant, ultimately won the league's award for the seasons best-and-fairest; the Brownlow Medal, due to the fact that Grant had been made ineligible for the award following a one match suspension earlier in the year.
  • With 81 goals at the end of the home-and-away season, Adelaide full forward Tony Modra won the season's Coleman Medal.


# 1996 Team (Wins-Losses-Draws) Coach Captain
1 9   St Kilda   (15-7-0)   Stan Alves   Nathan Burke
2 5   Geelong   (15-7-0)   Gary Ayres   Barry Stoneham
3   12   Western Bulldogs   (14-8-0)   Terry Wallace   Scott Wynd
4 8   Adelaide   (13-9-0)   Malcolm Blight   Mark Bickley
5 1   West Coast Eagles   (13-9-0)   Mick Malthouse   John Worsfold
6 5   Sydney Swans   (12-10-0)   Rodney Eade   Paul Kelly
7 5   North Melbourne   (12-10-0)   Denis Pagan   Wayne Carey
8 5   Brisbane Lions   (10-11-1)   John Northey   Michael Voss
9 n/a   Port Adelaide   (10-11-1)   John Cahill   Gavin Wanganeen
10 1   Collingwood   (10-12-0)   Tony Shaw   Gavin Brown
11 6   Carlton   (10-12-0)   David Parkin   Stephen Kernahan
12 1   Fremantle   (10-12-0)   Gerard Neesham   Peter Mann
13 4   Richmond   (10-12-0)   Robert Walls;
  Jeff Gieschen
  Matthew Knights
14 8   Essendon   (9-13-0)   Kevin Sheedy   Gary O'Donnell
15 7   Hawthorn   (8-14-0)   Ken Judge   Jason Dunstall
16 2   Melbourne   (4-18-0)   Neil Balme   Garry Lyon


  Qualifying Final
4  Adelaide Semi Final
5  West Coast Eagles  West Coast Eagles Preliminary Final
  Qualifying Final  North Melbourne  North Melbourne
1  St Kilda  St Kilda
8  Brisbane Lions Grand Final
 St Kilda
  Qualifying Final  Western Bulldogs
6  Sydney Swans Preliminary Final
3  Western Bulldogs   Semi Final  Western Bulldogs
  Qualifying Final  Adelaide  Adelaide
2  Geelong  Geelong
7  North Melbourne

Qualifying Finals

Home team Home team score Away team Away team score Ground Crowd Date
Western Bulldogs 18.11 (119) Sydney 12.12 (84) MCG 62,432 Saturday 6, September
St Kilda 20.15 (135) Brisbane Lions 13.11 (89) Waverley Park 50,035 Sunday 7, September
Adelaide 14.15 (99) West Coast 9.12 (66) Football Park 43,831 Sunday 7, September
Geelong 9.7 (61) North Melbourne 11.13 (79) MCG 55,561 Sunday 7, September

Semi Finals

Home team Home team score Away team Away team score Ground Crowd Date
North Melbourne 15.8 (98) West Coast 12.13 (85) MCG 55,781 Saturday 13, September
Adelaide 11.10 (76) Geelong 9.14 (68) Football Park 46,319 Saturday 13, September

Preliminary Finals

Home team Home team score Away team Away team score Ground Crowd Date
St Kilda 15.14 (104) North Melbourne 11.7 (73) MCG 77,531 Friday 19, September
Western Bulldogs 14.12 (96) Adelaide 12.21 (93) MCG 70,088 Saturday 20, September

Grand Final

Home team Home team score Away team Away team score Ground Crowd Date
St Kilda 14.11 (95) Western Bulldogs 22.15 (147) MCG 98,027 Saturday 27, September

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