SportDanny Frawley: Football world mourns a fierce competitor and vulnerable soul
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Australian football is mourning one of its fiercest competitors and most vulnerable souls after long-serving St Kilda captain, former Richmond coach and popular media personality Danny Frawley crashed his car into a tree on a quiet country road.
Frawley died about 1.30pm on Monday, the day after his 56th birthday, when his four-wheel-drive left a single lane road and hit a tree outside the western districts town of Millbrook, east of Ballarat.
Remembering Spud Frawley, a much-loved son of football
He was a player, coach, football administrator, commentator, analyst and jester. He was as happy taking the game seriously as he was making light of it, and himself. The son of seven generations of Irish potato farmers from Bungaree outside Ballarat, he was the nephew of Des Tuddenham, the former Collingwood champion. © Allsport Heart on his sleeve: Frawley celebrates a Richmond win in 2000. Frawley went to St Patrick's College in Ballarat, but it was at sport that he excelled, not academics. He began his football career as a forward, but found his place as a tough, strong, hard-running key defender. The much-loved No.
He died not far from the family potato farm in Bungaree where he was raised and learned to play football.
Frawley had spoken candidly about his battle with mental health over many years. In recent weeks he confided in friends and family that his marriage was over and personal finances were under severe strain.
His death comes as an immense shock to the football community.
During a time of chronic instability at St Kilda, Frawley was a constant.
He led the club for a record 177 games and anchored the team from full back. Although he played in far more losses than wins, his bullocking strength and timely fist kept the Saints in contests that otherwise would have been forsaken causes.
Frawley's passion endeared him to all in footy
Danny Frawley was one of the game's most enduringly endearing characters. Few people within the AFL community knew more people, or were more known, than ???Spud'.
“He was the most competitive, passionate bloke I played with,” former teammate Nathan Burke said. “He is just one of those blokes, whether you were there for a year or 15 years, you wouldn’t say a bad word about him.’’
Off the field, Frawley was the sensible Saint, the dependable one who made sure the other Ballarat boys – Tony Lockett, Greg Burns and Geoff Cunningham – got to Moorabbin in time for training and matches.
In his final year of football, he played a small, important role in one of the game’s greatest moments.
When a dying Ted Whitten farewelled the MCG with a final lap of honour at a state of origin match, it was Frawley who introduced him to each of the players in the Victoria rooms. Whitten’s whispered words stayed with him for the rest of his life.
Frawley’s coaching career saw him take over Richmond in 2000, a time when Tigerland was notorious for devouring its own. In the five seasons he coached, his hair turned white and a young man seemingly grew old.
Danny Frawley remembered by long-time friend Garry Lyon in emotional radio return
Garry Lyon pays an emotional tribute to former AFL star Danny Frawley as he returns to his radio show, speaking of the "utterly, impossibly heartbreaking" reality of his friend and former colleague's death. Frawley, a former St Kilda captain, Richmond coach and media personality, died in a single-car crash in western Victoria on Monday. How To Get A Home Loan With 5% Deposit Find out more on Finder Ad Finder.com.au The former potato farmer affectionately known as 'Spud' had his 56th birthday just the day before.
“He was an incredible man, the energy he had, no matter where he was he would have 40 people around him because of his infectious personality and his ability to tell a story,’’ former Richmond captain Wayne Campbell said.
“He was the essence of a true leader because people were drawn to him and followed him.”
It was in his years at Richmond that Frawley publicly revealed his frailties, alongside his strengths. He spoke last month of the toll the job took on his family and mental health. He also revealed the breakdown he experienced at the height of the Essendon doping crisis, when as chief executive of the AFL coaches’ association he was torn between his responsibility to the game and the welfare of coaches implicated in the scandal.
The doping crisis became a highly personal one, with Frawley unable to sleep and increasingly, to function in his broadcast job.
“The most frightening thing happened when I was at the MCG one afternoon,’’ he told the Herald Sun in a recent podcast. “I was sitting in the car park, behind the wheel. I had no idea where to go, or what to do.”
Danny Frawley's widow Anita says his mental health deteriorated in the lead up to his death and reveals the tragic turning point for AFL star
The wife of AFL star Danny Frawley has released an emotional statement revealing her husband's mental health had 'deteriorated' in the weeks before his suicide.
His wife Anita had to drive to the ground from their bayside house to pick him up.
In recent months and weeks, Frawley’s poor mental health became acute.
He continued to work in the media, hosting Fox Footy’s The Bounce with Jason Dunstall, and helped out as an assistant coach at St Kilda and St Bedes, the amateur club where Luke Beveridge coached before embarking on his AFL career.
In quiet moments, he told those he trusted that he was struggling to cope, his marriage was failing and his finances were shot, the result of a big investment gone bad. His problems were well known to his family.
Andrew Plympton, a president of the St Kilda Football Club during Frawley’s time as captain, said Frawley’s fight against depression showed the fickle nature of mental health.
“He came from a fantastically steady family,’’ Plympton said. “I can’t even try to understand where Danny had issues from.”
Frawley was raised in a big, supportive family. His late father Brian was president of the local football club, his brother Michael now runs the family farm. His problems were well known to his siblings, some of who were making emergency dashes home from overseas on Monday night.
Danny Frawley is survived by his wife Anita and three adult daughters.
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Schwass makes mental health vow to Frawley.
Wayne Schwass has vowed to continue St Kilda legend Danny Frawley's fight against mental health issues. Prominent mental health advocate Wayne Schwass has vowed to win the war against mental illness that his dear friend Danny Frawley fought so valiantly. The North Melbourne and Sydney champion made the pledge to Frawley in a raw, powerful and passionate eulogy delivered at the St Kilda legend's funeral service at Kingston Town Hall on Wednesday. require(["inlineoutstreamAd", "c.