Harrowing new details have emerged about the lonely final days of AFL great Danny Frawley, whose tragic death in a single-car crash has left the footy world reeling.
The St Kilda legend and much-loved media personality died on Monday when his ute slammed into a tree near Ballarat in country Victoria, not far from where he was raised on his family’s potato farm – hence the nickname ‘Spud’.
Frawley, who opened up in recent years about his battles with depression and ongoing mental demons, was booked in to see a psychiatrist in Melbourne on the afternoon he died, according to The Age.
A day earlier, he had planned to celebrate his 56th birthday with family but didn’t attend, the publication reported.
Danny Frawley is survived by his wife Anita and three daughters Danielle, Keeley and Chelsea
The AFL legend made his last public appearance on Fox Footy program Bounce on Saturday (pictured), just two days before his death
The no-show came 24 hours after Frawley on Saturday made his last public appearance on Fox Footy show Bounce, which won’t go to air this week as a mark of respect.
On Saturday’s show, host Jason Dunstall pulled out a ‘birthday cake’, which was a raspberry muffin with a single candle, and told Frawley to make a wish.
After blowing out the candle, Frawley refused to answer when Dunstall asked what he wished for.
‘It’s fair to say you wouldn’t want to know about it,’ Frawley replied.
‘There’s a fair chance it’s hosting, probably.’
While the cause of the single-vehicle accident had not been confirmed, a source told Daily Mail Australia self-harm was considered the most likely explanation.
Frawley was killed when his car hit a tree 20km east of Ballarat on Monday afternoon
Danny Frawley (pictured with his daughter Danielle) died when his vehicle slammed into a tree
It’s understood Frawley spent a lot of time in recent months in the farming community of Bungaree where he grew up, 103km west of Melbourne.
He worked at stables run by a friend and regularly visited his mum Shirley and siblings who still live in the district.
‘He has got two lives,’ former St Kilda teammate Michael Roberts told The Age.
‘He always went back to the country to get happiness and the jungle was the city. I know that to go back home was comforting for him.’
Frawley’s sudden death is expected draw significant attention to men’s mental health issues in the weeks to come, particularly in AFL circles.
Collingwood Magpies star Adam Treloar, who recently opened up abut his own battles with anxiety, now wishes he’d acted on his desire to get in touch with the AFL legend after listening to Frawley’s podcast on his mental health battles.
‘I remember when I listened to it and I really didn’t know how bad his mental health was and how much he struggled – and that’s because I just didn’t know the guy,’ a heartbroken Treloar said on Fox Footy’s AFL 360 on Tuesday night.
‘When I was listening to him talk, in that moment I wanted to meet him, I wanted to ring him, I wanted to chat to him.
‘I was so shy, I just wish I had enough balls to call him and have a chat to him.
‘You can never foresee what’s going to happen and anticipate that this was going to happen. My heart goes out to him because I know he had his struggles — he spoke about his struggles — and I well and truly have my struggles.
‘My heart just goes out to him. I’m just lost. I feel so sorry for his family.’
Danny Frawley was nicknamed Spud because he grew up on a potato farm in country Victoria
Frawley is pictured on his farm in an image he posted to Twitter before his tragic death
DANNY’S FINAL DAYS
SATURDAY: Frawley appears on Fox Footy show Bounce and refuses to reveal his birthday wish as he blows out a candle on a cake.
SUNDAY: The AFL icon fails to show up at a family gathering to celebrate his 56th birthday.
MONDAY: Frawley dies in a single-car crash near Ballarat in Victoria. He was reportedly booked in for a session with his psychiatrist that afternoon.
Frawley is survived by his wife Anita and three daughters – Danielle, Chelsea and Keeley.
His heartbroken family released a statement on Tuesday afternoon to express their love and pride for a remarkable man who touched the lives of many.
‘The Frawley families are totally shocked and devastated by his passing, but Danny provided us with strength, good humour and unwavering support during his extraordinary life, memories which will be cherished and help us cope with his tragic death,’ the statement read.
‘Danny made friends from all walks of life. He had a smile that would light up a room, an infectious laugh and an easy charm that made people feel good about themselves. He genuinely liked and cared about people and they loved him back.
Danny Frawley’s devastated family released a statement to express their love and pride for a remarkable man who touched the lives of many
‘Danny was to all who knew him a caring, loyal, selfless, loving person who would always put others first before himself and aside from his work in football and media he worked hard to use his profile to remove the stigma associated with depression and encouraged acceptance and support for those who suffered with mental health issues.’
The family also thanked everyone for their overwhelming support in the last 24 hours.
‘We are humbled, proud and incredibly touched,’ they said.
‘His legacy and love of his family will never be dimmed. Forever in our hearts.’
Danny Frawley leaves behind his wife Anita, and three beautiful daughters Chelsea, Keeley, and Danielle
Frawley coached Richmond from 2000 to 2004, and worked with Hawthorn and St Kilda before becoming a commentator
A makeshift shrine continues to grow at St Kilda headquarters, where club great Nicky Winmar paid his respects to his former teammate with a heartfelt tribute.
‘Cuz, my Kooda forever,’ he signed.
He remembered Frawley as a great man gone too soon.
‘Danny was just Danny. As a captain, as a man, I’d walk across desert with him, I’d go to war with him because he’s a true believer,’ a Winmar told The Herald Sun.
‘It’s a wake-up call for the AFL, depression and anxiety, you’ve got to let people know we are humans and not robots.
‘It’s a wake-up call for everyone, just get together every now again and catch up as mates. We walk across the white line to play footy as teammates.’
A makeshift shrine is growing at St Kilda headquarters, where Frawley played 240 AFL games
Frawley’s heartbroken former teammate Nicky Winmar visited the club on Tuesday to pay his respects with a heartfelt tribute
FULL FRAWLEY FAMILY STATEMENT
On Monday, Danny was taken tragically from us.
The Frawley family are devastated, but full of love and pride for a remarkable man who touched the lives of many.
To some he was known as an AFL footballer, coach and media figure; but to his wife Anita and their three daughters, Chelsea, Danielle and Keeley, Danny was a loving husband and a devoted dad. Danny adored his family.
One of six children, Danny was loved by his mother Shirley and late father Brian. He will be sadly missed by his brothers and sisters Christine, Michael, Tony, Anne and Marita, who will have cherished memories of growing up with Danny on the farm in Bungaree.
The Frawley families are totally shocked and devastated by his passing, but Danny provided us with strength, good humour and unwavering support during his extraordinary life, memories which will be cherished and help us cope with his tragic death.
Danny made friends from all walks of life. He had a smile that would light up a room, an infectious laugh, and an easy charm that made people feel good about themselves. He genuinely liked and cared about people and they loved him back.
Danny was to all who knew him a caring, loyal, selfless, loving person who would always put others first before himself. Aside from his work in football and media, he worked hard to use his profile to remove the stigma associated with depression and encouraged acceptance and support for those who suffered with mental health issues.
We would like to sincerely thank everyone for the outpouring of love and kindness at this time. We are overwhelmed by the messages of support following his death.
We are humbled, proud and incredibly touched.
His legacy and love of his family will never be dimmed. Forever in our hearts.
A ‘moment of silence’ will be held to remember Frawley before the AFL finals being played in Melbourne and Brisbane this weekend.
A highlights reel will also been shown on the big screen at both matches while players from all four competing clubs – Geelong, West Coast, Brisbane and GWS – will wear black arm bands as a tribute.
One of six children, Frawley was the former St Kilda captain and Richmond coach who built a successful post-playing career in the media, successfully combining astute game observations with his light-hearted persona.
He played 240 games for St Kilda between 1984 and 1995 and was the club’s longest serving captain until Nick Riewoldt eclipsed his record in 2014.
He coached Richmond from 2000 to 2004 and guided the Tigers to a preliminary final in 2001.
Frawley went on to commentate the AFL for Triple M, Fox Sports, SEN and the Nine Network – as well as work part-time as a defensive coach with his beloved Saints.
For confidential support call Lifeline: 13 11 14 www.lifeline.org.au or Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636.
The former St Kilda star and former Richmond coach turned 56 the day before he died
Danny Frawley of the Saints is chaired off the ground following his final match in 1995
Thousands of footy fans sign a petition to make the Golden Fist from Danny Frawley’s segment on Bounce an official award on Brownlow night
More than 40,000 AFL fans have signed a petition to make Danny Frawley’s Golden Fist an award on Brownlow night.
As a pundit on Fox Sports footy show Bounce, Frawley handed out the award for the best defender each week.
At the end of the season he tallied the votes and awarded a ‘Golden Fist’ to the player with the most votes.
It was a lighthearted idea but after Frawley’s tragic death aged 56 on Monday, fans are calling for the award to be presented at the Brownlows.
The official awards night currently hand the Brownlow medal to the best player and the Coleman medal to the forward with the most goals.
But there is nothing to reward defenders – and fans want the Golden Fist to fill the void.
AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan said he would consider the idea.
More than 40,000 AFL fans have signed a petition to make Danny Frawley’s Golden Fist an award on Brownlow night