The Australian football world is in mourning once more with the sad news that former player and coach and current media personality Danny "Spud" Frawley was killed Monday afternoon in a car crash. He was driving alone when his car hit a tree just east of his hometown of Ballarat (72 miles northwest of Melbourne). Frawley, who had just turned 56 on Sunday, was a much-loved personality in the football world, the media and the broader community. Several years ago, he opened up about his struggles with depression and worked in the community to urge others to seek help. He co-hosted a show on SEN Radio entitled No Man Should Ever Walk Alone which addressed men's mental health issues and advised callers where they could go for help for themselves or loved ones.
Frawley, who gained his nickname from growing up on a potato farm, was recruited to St Kilda in 1984 and played 240 games and captained the club for 177 of those games. Upon retirement, he entered the coaching ranks, first as an assistant for three seasons at Collingwood as well as coaching Collingwood's reserves team. In 2000, he was appointed senior coach of Richmond and took them to a preliminary final in just his second season in charge. Subsequent seasons did not see the same success. He was axed by the Tigers in 2004, after which he was a part-time coach at St Kilda and Hawthorn while also working in the media. He worked as a special commentator on SEN during matches and also had several television roles. He was CEO of the AFL Coaches Association from 2008 to 2014 and was also president of the Past Players Association. He was the nephew of former Collingwood champion Des Tuddenham, and his own nephew, James Frawley, plays for Hawthorn.
SEN managing director Craig Hutchinson said the community at large was devastated by the news, “Danny was simply loved. A true Australian character; a brilliant entertainer; a selfless father, husband and friend. He epitomized the spirit of the St Kilda football club and his football legacy as a player, coach, administrator and media performer is enormous. But his sense of community and the way he inspired others will be forever remembered ... we are stunned and shattered at this extraordinary loss. He was simply everyone’s mate.” Frawley's daughter Chelsea also works at SEN Radio.
The tributes poured in via Twitter and SEN radio programs were dedicated to remembrance of Frawley by the program's hosts. Listeners called in with their own memories and stories about Spud. Many told stories of encounters with Frawley, describing him as a very down-to-earth, laid back, and engaging person whether it be at a game, a sportsmen's night or just out and about in the community. He was described as a man who always had time for anyone. Some callers were so emotional and choked up, they could barely speak. One caller, who said he was a "tough truckie" (truck driver) said he cried all night after hearing the news. Even former Lion champion Jonathan Brown, on another TV show, was teary-eyed.
Tim Watson speaking on SEN's morning show said Frawley was just as happy being the b*tt of a joke as he was telling one. Several years ago, as co-host of TV show The First Bounce, he (as a former defender) decided that defenders did not get enough recognition on Brownlow Night and came up with his own award for defenders: the Golden Fist. Viewers of the show apparently loved it. Another amusing story Watson told about Frawley was when Frawley was coaching Richmond and they were not doing well. Some disgruntled Richmond supporters dumped a pile of manure at the entrance of Richmond's offices. Watson related that Frawley put the manure in several bags, took it home and put it around his rose bushes. Watson wasn't sure if the story was true but it showed how Frawley could turn almost anything into a positive. According to another former SEN presenter Darren Parkin, Frawley was a true larrikin [Ed. note: Australian term for someone is a mischevious or a jokester.] and a bigger than life character who loved his footy and St Kilda. He also loved horse racing.
Here are a few of the Twitter tributes:
Former Swan and current TV commentator Jude Bolton, "Absolutely devastating news ... A champion bloke and an immeasurable impact on so many in the footy community through his playing, coaching & broadcasting. RIP Spud".
Former Richmond champion and former SEN personality Kevin Bartlett, "... deeply saddened ... A work colleague over the years and valued member of the All Australian selection committee. Wonderful player , captain, finals coach and much loved media performer ... RIP".
St Kilda Football Club, "The St Kilda Football Club is heart-broken by the passing of club great Danny Frawley". St Kilda president Andrew Bassat said the club was still coming to terms with the news, and would support Frawley's wife and daughters in whatever way it could, "Danny will be remembered as one of St Kilda's greatest ever players and a dear friend ...".
Video tribute clips are posted on Twitter.
240 games for St Kilda 1984-95, 13 goals.
177 games as St Kilda Captain.
11 games for Victoria 1987- 94.
Six games for Australia, 1987, 1990
St Kilda Best and Fairest 1988
All-Australian team member 1988
113 games as Richmond Senior Coach 2000-04.
All-Australian selector 2011-2019.
St Kilda Football Club Hall of Fame Inductee
AFL Life Member
Source: sen.com.au, afl.com.au, Nadine Rabah, AFL Media Release
Article last changed on Tuesday, September 10, 2019 - 11:55 AM EDT