Frawley’s death leaves AFL heartbroken

Frawley’s death leaves AFL heartbroken

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.

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.

FoxFooty 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.

Dunstall and Frawley were co-hosts of the irreverent FoxFooty show Bounce.

The raw emotion of Frawley’s TV colleagues recalled the Thursday night in 1995 when AFL legend Ted Whitten died and fellow Footscray great Doug Hawkins barely coped during a live program as the news broke.

A couple of months before Whitten’s death, Frawley famously had escorted him around the Victorian dressing rooms to meet players at an MCG State Of Origin match.

A lap of honour for a crying Whitten at that game is one of the AFL’s iconic moments.

Frawley died the day after his 56th birthday.

His car left the road and hit a tree near his home town of Bungaree, outside Ballarat.

Renowned as one of the AFL’s great full-backs, Frawley played 240 games for St Kilda between 1984-95.

He captained the Saints for 177 games, then a club record.

Frawley coached Richmond for five years, taking them to a 2001 preliminary final.

But it was their only finals appearance under Frawley and impatient Tigers fans turned on him.

The club sacked him in 2004 and that was one of the reasons for the mental health problems that dogged Frawley over the last few years.

He became the chief executive at the AFL Coaches Association, but suffered a nervous breakdown in 2014 as the game reeled from the Essendon supplements debacle.

Frawley resigned and took a spell out of the game, before returning to commentary roles and a part-time role as a defensive coach with his beloved Saints.

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

Credit: AAP