Although the league was still called the VFL until the start of the 1990 season, the 2004 season was the unofficial 18th 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 - Port Adelaide, Brisbane Lions, Sydney Swans, West Coast Eagles - participated in the 8 club finals series.
Gary Ayres resigned mid-season and was replaced with Neil Craig as Adelaide coach.
Four clubs - Port Adelaide, West Coast Eagles, Essendon, North Melbourne - finished in the same ladder position as 2003. St Kilda, Geelong and Melbourne climbed to qualify for the finals series. Whilst Collingwood had the biggest decline, falling 11 places after playing in the last 2 Grand Finals.
Port Adelaide won the minor premiers for the last 2 seasons but did not reach the Grand Final. In 2004, Port Adelaide again won the minor premiers and its 1st AFL Premiership. Brisbane Lions, who won the Premiership for the last 3 seasons, played them in the Grand Final. Whilst Richmond won the wooden spoon.
Fraser Gehrig of St Kilda won the Coleman Medal for the leading goalscorer. Chris Judd of West Coast Eagles won the Brownlow Medal.
|Elimination Final||Essendon||Preliminary Final|
|5||Melbourne||St Kilda||Grand Final|
|Elimination Final||Preliminary Final||Brisbane Lions|
|7||West Coast Eagles||Geelong|
|6||Sydney Swans||Semi Final||Brisbane Lions|
|Qualifying Final||St Kilda|