The 2023 AFL season will go down as one of the all-time greatest years of footy seen in our code, with countless high-profile storylines generated on the field and off the field.

On the field, we saw controversy, comebacks, clutch moments, big games and maybe the greatest Grand Final ever.

Off the field we saw drama, sackings, major acquisitions and a Brownlow Medal count out of a fantasy novel.

With endless headlines to pick from, see below what we picked as the top 10 AFL stories of the 2023 calendar year.


10. North Melbourne's interchange meltdown

In an unexpectedly controversial Saturday afternoon at Marvel, the Kangaroos faced the Swans in their first match of the year without Alastair Clarkson at the helm. As promised by recent footy folklore, the club playing their first match under the interim coach played gallantly and the young shin-boners looked set to defend a 3-point lead to victory with 59 seconds remaining.

In a shocking twist, the Swans were awarded a free-kick and 50m penalty from a forward 50 stoppage after North Melbourne breached the interchange count of 75 when Liam Shiels rotated with Tom Powell for the 76th rotation.

Swans forward Hayden McLean was sent to the top of the goal-square to give Sydney the lead and eventually, the win.

The Swans would eventually land 8th on the home and away ladder, scraping into the finals by just two premiership points over the Western Bulldogs, thanks in large part to the Kangaroos' mismanagement as well as the AFL's score review system flaws which stole headlines many weeks later.

For North, it was yet another profound and heartbreaking moment for their coach and for the club, which faced scrutiny and informal questioning about an alleged tank-job being enacted to maintain a hold on the number one pick and the prospect in question, Harley Reid.