Although the league was still called the VFL until the start of the 1990 season, the 2012 season was the unofficial 26th 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. Port Adelaide Power joined. Footscray changed its name to Western Bulldogs. Brisbane Bears and Fitzroy Lions merged to become Brisbane Lions.
Last season, Gold Coast Suns joined with Greater Western Sydney joining this season. That brings the number of clubs to 18.
- Brenton Sanderson was appointed coach at Adelaide. He had immediate success with Adelaide climbing 12 places to play in the Preliminary Finals.
- The 2010 Premiership coach, Mick Malthouse left Collingwood at the end of last season. Collingwood appoints one of their favorite players, Nathan Buckley as his replacement.
- Ross Lyon left St Kilda to become the coach at Fremantle. Scott Watters replaced him as coach at St Kilda.
- Brendan McCartney is appointed coach at Western Bulldogs.
- Mark Neeld is appointed coach at Melbourne.
- Kevin Sheddy returns to the AFL to coach debutants, Greater Western Sydney.
- Carlton and Western Bulldogs had the biggest decline, falling 5 places. Western Bulldogs have had consecutive years of slipping down the ladder. In 2010, they played in the Preliminary Finals. In 2 years, Western Bulldogs have gone from 4th from the top to 4th from the bottom.
Sydney Swans finishing third on the ladder won the premiership. Hawthorn were minor premiers and played them in the Grand Final. Whilst Greater Western Sydney in its inaugural season, won the wooden spoon.
Jack Riewoldt of Richmond won the Coleman Medal for the leading goalscorer. Jobe Watson of Essendon won the Brownlow Medal.
|Elimination Final||West Coast Eagles||Preliminary Final|
|5||West Coast Eagles||Hawthorn|
|8||North Melbourne||Adelaide||Grand Final|
|Elimination Final||Preliminary Final||Sydney Swans|
|7||Fremantle||Semi Final||Sydney Swans|