Hard men are crying and laughing as the AFL remembers Danny Frawley.
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’s FoxFooty show 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 said on FoxFooty’s On The Couch program.
“20 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 FoxFooty commentators Jason Dunstall and Garry Lyon, long-time friends of Frawley’s, were too upset to speak publicly.
Frawley and Dunstall co-hosted the irreverent football show Bounce.
“As one, we (FoxFooty) 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.
An impromptu shrine in the foyer at St Kilda’s Moorabbin headquarters paid tribute to Frawley.
He first made his name at the Saints, playing 240 games from 1984-95 and proving one of the best key defenders of his generation.
He captained the Saints for 177 games, a club record since overtaken by Nick Riewoldt.
Teammate and fellow Saints great Nathan Burke remembered Frawley’s massive impact.
“He was my captain for nine years here at the Saints and so, when I first started, he was the role model on just how to give your all for the club, your teammates,” Burke said.
“He would sacrifice everything that he possibly could. In terms of what it meant to be a team player, there was none better than Danny.”
Most recently, Frawley was a part-time defensive coach at the club.
“Danny will be remembered as one of St Kilda’s greatest ever players and a dear friend to so many at the football club,” Bassat said.
“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.”
McLachlan said it was 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 … our thoughts are with (wife) Anita, (daughters) Chelsea, Danielle and Keeley.”
* Born 8/9/1963, died 9/9/2019
* 240 games for St Kilda 1984-95
* Captained St Kilda for 177 games, then a club record (since overtaken by Nick Riewoldt)
* St Kilda best and fairest and All-Australian, 1988
* 11-time Victorian representative
* St Kilda Hall Of Fame member
* Coached Richmond 2000-04, including 2001 preliminary final
* Former chief executive AFL Coaches’ Association
* Long-time TV and radio AFL commentator
* Co-host of FoxFooty program ‘Bounce’
* Part-time defensive coach at St Kilda.