St Kilda’s best and fairest night became more group therapy than awards as the AFL club reels from the death of favourite son Danny Frawley.
Former teammates Stewart Loewe, Robert Harvey, Nathan Burke and Michael Roberts paid moving tributes to Frawley on Wednesday night, two days after the Saints great died in a car crash.
Midfielder Seb Ross, a surprise winner of his second Trevor Barker Medal as best and fairest ahead of Rowan Marshall, was happy for the focus to be on Frawley.
The much-loved AFL figure and his family were mentioned in acceptance speeches throughout the night.
“I will reflect on it as being a pretty special night,” Ross said.
“It just showed the man that Danny was and … (it’s) not about me.
“The whole night, and rightly so, has to be about Danny and what he brought to the footy club … and the whole footy fraternity.”
Ross was also in a gathering of current and former Saints players at a pub on Monday as they dealt with the traumatic news about Frawley.
“That just showed the reach he had,” Ross said of the large turnout.
“It was good – when things like that happen, you just want to go and see people who are feeling the same way.
“It was good to reminisce and as hard as it was a times, it was good to tell stories about Spud.”
Another feature of Wednesday night was coach Brett Ratten making a call to arms, saying he wants the players in top shape for the start of pre-season.
“I really love that – the group got a great sense of where we could potentially be this year,” Ross said.
“No-one expected us to win nine games this year and that might even be a couple of players at the club.
“We’re not too far out of it … under Ratts and a new regime, it’s going to be right there for us.”
Ross made his AFL debut at St Kilda in 2012, meaning he is yet to play in a final.
“I’m more motivated than ever to play finals and this group is definitely capable,” he said.
Injuries to Jarryn Geary meant Ross filled in as captain for much of the season and he relished the extra responsibility.
“Obviously you have to do a bit more preparation on game day, but it was a good learning curve,” Ross said.
“I had Gears right by my side every step of the way and he was helping me out.
“I was probably annoying him a bit, trying to figure out ways to motivate the team, that sort of stuff.”