Emotional AFL football and media figures have paid tribute to the late Danny Frawley, with Brisbane Lions great Jonathan Brown among those left close to tears.
- AFL great Jonathan Brown became emotional as he remembered first meeting Frawley as a young footballer
- Fans worked through the night to set up a tribute wall at the St Kilda Football Club’s headquarters
- Frawley’s former Saints teammate Michael Roberts was one of many to share their feelings about the death of their friend
In the hours after news of Frawley’s death broke, his peers, friends and colleagues in the media gathered on various TV shows to talk about their memories of the 56-year-old.
Frawley — a country boy from Bungaree who became a St Kilda stalwart and long-time club captain, then later coached Richmond and headed the AFL Coaches Association before moving into a media career — was alone in his car when he hit a tree at Millbrook near Ballarat in Victoria, at 1:30pm yesterday.
He died at the scene of the single-car crash.
The shock of the news was reflected in the responses of those on air, as the regular wall-to-wall coverage of AFL finals took a back seat to the emotions of those who had known and worked with Frawley.
Fans said they were “shocked and devastated” as they left tributes outside the club. (ABC News: Stephanie Ferrier)
Brown, a three-time premiership player with Brisbane, who comes from Warrnambool in country Victoria, appeared in his regular role as panellist on Fox Footy’s On The Couch program with Paul Roos and Gerard Healy.
Before their show, the trio reminisced about Frawley on AFL 360, also on Fox.
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Brown referred to fellow panellist Garry Lyon — who was too upset to go on air — working with Frawley on the 1990s children’s TV show AFL Squadron, before recalling his first meeting with the former St Kilda player.
“My first memory of Spud was with Roosy [Paul Roos]; they used to go around Victoria and do those super clinics [for young footballers],” he said.
“[I’d] come into the ground and see Spud … and 20 years later I was doing the same thing with him,” Brown said, with a catch in his voice.
“When we were going around country Victoria on the regional bus tours and I … I looked at those kids, and I thought, I saw myself in those kids.
“I thought 20 years ago I was doing that and Spud, Spud is still bringing a smile to these kids’ faces, he was just so infectious.”
Opening the On The Couch program, host Gerard Healy paid a special tribute.
“Spud died in a car accident near Ballarat this afternoon, where he grew from an over-enthusiastic young footballer to local royalty,” he said.
“Spud was a champion of St Kilda, his beloved club, where he captained so many times.
“He was a State of Origin player [for Victoria], he was a coach of the Tigers and took them to finals, and he was a great football administrator.
“Spud did it all.”
Healy recalled Frawley’s work on Bounce, the show he did with various former footballers led by Jason Dunstall.
“[He was] always happy to play the clown, but at his very core, he was a serious football person,” he said.
“Most importantly, Spud was a devoted husband to Anita, a very proud father to Chelsea, to Danielle and to Keeley.
“Girls, we can’t possibly know your pain or your devastation and the loss you feel right now, but do know this — that we loved and admired your dad for being a very decent man above all else.
“[He was] an entertainer, a confidante and a friend to many. But a very decent man. Rest in peace, Danny — you’ll be greatly missed.”
St Kilda fans created a tribute wall for Frawley overnight in the foyer of the club. (ABC News: Stephanie Ferrier)
On Channel Seven’s Talking Footy, his former St Kilda teammate — later a TV boundary rider and football presenter — Michael Roberts echoed the pain of many of those close to Frawley as he remembered his friend.
“I was breathless when I found out about Trevor Barker [former St Kilda player who died of cancer in 1996] — that was a slow burn,” an emotional Roberts said.
“For Spud, this was such a shock — and it’s shocked not only our family but the St Kilda family, and the footy world.
“We were pretty close, I know he had a Ballarat family and they’re devastated [tonight] but he had a lot of mates back here [in Melbourne] and to Anita and the girls … it’s such a tough gig, this — I feel for you.”
Overnight, St Kilda fans left floral tributes, vests and notes at the club’s Moorabbin headquarters in Melbourne’s south-east, including a large wall of photos of Frawley.
A card from a fan said it was an “honour” to put together the tribute to Frawley. (ABC News: Stephanie Ferrier)