Main content

Vale Danny: Football world sheds tears for St Kilda great

Vale Danny Frawley A tribute to St Kilda Icon Danny Frawley

SOME of the AFL's fiercest characters choked back tears and others were too distraught to speak in public.

Danny Frawley's death in a car crash on Monday afternoon left the game shattered.

There were soon widespread tributes for the knockabout potato farmer from Bungaree, who was known more by his nickname Spud than Danny.

Danny Frawley doing a media shoot in 1995. Picture: AFL Photos

Frawley was remembered for his infectious personality and as a country bloke who wore his heart on his sleeve.

There were memories of Frawley's humour, but the overwhelming emotion on Monday night was one of profound grief.

Fox Footy colleagues Jonathan Brown and Paul Roos struggled to keep their emotions in check during a tribute segment and Brown, renowned as one of the AFL's toughest players, at times could barely speak.

Fellow On The Couch panellist Garry Lyon was too upset to appear and Jason Dunstall also grieved in private.  

The 56-year-old was travelling alone when his vehicle hit a tree at Millbrook, 20km east of Ballarat. He died at the scene of the crash. 

Recruited from a potato-farming family in East Ballarat, Frawley played 240 games for St Kilda, including 177 as captain, from 1984-1995 and won the Saints' best and fairest in 1988.

Frawley locks horns with Carlton champion Stephen Kernahan. 

Frawley was a regular Victorian representative at full-back and played for Australia in two International Rules Series against Ireland.  

St Kilda teammates Tony Lockett and Danny Frawley were Victoria State of Origin regulars. 

Upon retirement, he enjoyed a three-year stint at Collingwood as assistant coach including leading the club's reserves, before landing the Richmond head coaching job ahead of 2000.  

Richmond coach Frawley in discussion with Tigers forward Matthew Richardson during a game in 2001. 

Frawley's immediate impact lifted the Tigers to a preliminary final in just his second season before he was sacked at the end of 2004 with a 40 per cent win-loss record.  

After departing Tigerland, Frawley spent time as a part-time coach at Hawthorn and St Kilda while turning his hand to various roles in the media.  

Mixing his football analysis with his jovial nature, Frawley found prominence in radio at Triple M, SEN and AFL Nation, and in television at Channel Nine and Fox Footy.  

Frawley was a panellist on Fox Footy program Bounce in recent times, with his popular 'Golden Fist' segment a hit among many football fans.  

Frawley has been open in recent years about his ongoing battle with mental health.  

The father of three was also the CEO of the AFL Coaches' Association from 2008-2014.

Frawley is survived by wife Anita and daughters Danielle, Chelsea and Keeley.

He was the nephew of Collingwood great Des Tuddenham and his own nephew, James, has played 225 games for Melbourne and Hawthorn as a key defender.

St Kilda assistant coach Frawley addresses players during pre-season training in November 2014. 

As AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan and St Kilda president Andrew Bassat led tributes to Frawley, it was the sight of Jonathan Brown choking back tears on Monday night on Fox Footy that summed up the profound grief in the game.

Renowned as one of the AFL's toughest players and, like Frawley, much-loved as a knockabout figure from the country, Brown spoke of his heartbreak.

"My first memory of Spud was with Roosy (Paul Roos), when they'd go around Victoria and do the super clinics (coaching)," Brown told Fox Footy.

"Twenty years later, I was doing the same thing with him. I looked at those kids and saw myself ... Spud was still bringing a smile to these kids' faces. He was so infectious."

Fellow Fox Footy commentators Jason Dunstall and Garry Lyon, long-time friends of Frawley's, were too upset to speak publicly.

"As one, we have lost a really big family member and it's hard to express the loss. It's hard to express the shock that we felt when we first found out (about) losing Spud Frawley," said On the Couch compere Gerard Healy.

"Spud was one of us."

Fellow On the Couch panel member Paul Roos reflected that he and Frawley had parallel playing careers.

"It's hard to know where to start - it's complete shock ... devastation. It was absolutely like losing one of your own today. Basically, my whole football journey was pretty much the same as Danny's," Roos said.

"We are incredibly saddened by Danny's death," said Bassat, adding thoughts were with Frawley's wife Anita and their three daughters.

"Danny will be remembered as one of St Kilda's greatest ever players and a dear friend to so many at the football club.

"He was a larger-than-life character, a generous and warm personality, and a favourite son who has left an indelible mark on St Kilda."

An emotional Frawley is carried from Waverley Park after his final AFL game in 1995. 

McLachlan said it is a devastating day for the wider football community.

"Danny was passionate about footy and passionate about people. He made such a positive and lasting influence on so many in our game," McLachlan said.

"He was a friend to all at the AFL and everyone in the wider football community. 'Spud' was loved by all, always a popular visitor to AFL House and our thoughts are with (wife) Anita, (daughters) Chelsea, Danielle and Keeley."

Police have asked for witnesses and anyone with dashcam footage or further information to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or submit a confidential crime report at www.crimestoppersvic.com.au.