Family, friends and footy players have arrived for the funeral of AFL legend Danny Frawley.
The 56-year-old died last week after his ute slammed into a tree near Ballarat in country Victoria, not far from the potato farm he grew up on, in a suspected suicide.
Frawley, who captained St Kilda for nine seasons, was a champion of mental health and had been open about his battle with depression in the past.
Mourners arrived Kingston Town Hall in Moorabbin, Melbourne to pay their respects to the father-of-three on Wednesday.
Emotional: Stewart Loewe hugs friends as he arrives for the funeral of Danny Frawley on Wednesday
Robert Harvey arrives at the funeral service in Melbourne. Frawley died on 9 September aged 56 after a decorated career
Left: Tony Shaw arrives for the service in a blue suit. Right: Brian Taylor was also smartly dressed but opted for no tie
Gary Lyon stepped out with his partner – the ex-wife of mate Billy Brownless, who was also in attendance
Nicky Winmar arrives as hundreds of the sport’s greatest names gathered outside the Kingston Town Hall
Left: Brendon Gale arrives. Right: Michael Roberts hugs a friend before the funeral service
St Kilda Football club supporters arrived to pay their respects to a club hero who died aged 56 last week
Hundreds of the sport’s greatest names gathered outside the Kingston Town Hall and were briefly held outside by security staff.
Former Collingwood premiership captain Tony Shaw and St Kilda hero Nicky Winmar were among the legends.
A private service for close friends and family took place at 1.15pm before the crowd was allowed in at about 2.40pm.
Mourners were asked to wear pink and blue wristbands to enter and anyone without a wristband was shown the door.
A large contingent of security was patrolling the town hall, with police watching from the street.
Among other mourners were Hollywood superstar Eric Bana, television personality and Collingwood president Eddie MacGuire and basketball hero Andrew Gaze.
Former AFL greats Wayne Carey and Gerard Healy made it just in time for the service as they were ushered in past the stragglers.
Meanwhile, Gary Lyon stepped out with his partner – the ex-wife of his mate Billy Brownless, who was also there.
St Kilda defender Jake Carlisle was last to make his way into the service.
Arriving at least six minutes after 3pm, Carlisle was seen dashing into the town hall, dropping his Saints neck tie in the rush.
Channel 7 reporter Emily Angwin alerted him to the wardrobe malfunction, but he stuck the tie in his pocket, declaring: ‘I don’t know how to tie one’.
Danny Frawley is survived by his wife Anita and three daughters Danielle, Keeley and Chelsea
The tree where Danny Frawley is believed to have deliberately crashed his car on Monday. There were no skid marks and no sign that he made any evasive moves to avoid it
In a statement released on Monday, his wife Anita revealed that he had taken himself of prescription medication in the months leading up to his death.
‘The road leading up to last Monday’s events began eight months ago when Danny made the decision to take himself off his prescribed medication,’ she wrote.
‘At this point Danny felt invincible, like the true competitor and proud man that he was; he felt that he had beaten the disease.
‘In fact, he felt bullet proof, which contributed to his decision to remove himself from his support network including his psychiatric care and not continuing to work with his team of mental health professionals.’
Mrs Frawley praised her late husband for his bravery in being able to ‘put his hand up’ and ask for help when he needed it, but said his deterioration was a stark warning to others.
Mr Frawley was open about his battle with depression and first took time off to seek professional help for his problems in 2014.
His wife said she had decided to be open about Mr Frawley’s death to encourage other sufferers to also seek help.
‘You should always seek help from professionals when considering making decisions surrounding your mental health, even when you feel as though you have fully recovered,’ she said.
Mrs Frawley (left) said she was making a public statement to continue her husband’s legacy of championing mental health
The AFL star’s family are devastated by their loss, but Mrs Frawley says they have a final memory of him they can ‘cherish forever’
Mr Frawley’s family have been left devastated by their loss, but Mrs Frawley says they will cherish their final memory of her husband forever.
‘Our final memory of Danny is one we will cherish forever, a night spent sitting around our family table, playing board games and laughing on his 56th birthday,’ she wrote.
‘He will never be forgotten and will forever be in our hearts.
‘I would like to leave everyone with this quote from Danny, ‘manning up in the past was to suffer in silence, manning up now is to put your hand up’.’
Mrs Frawley concluded by saying her husband was ‘the love of my life’ and always would be.
‘Since Monday, there has been a gaping hole in our family which will never be repaired.
‘The girls and I are finding it difficult to accept you are gone and our lives as we knew them will never be the same. We miss you. We will always miss you.’
Pictured: Danny Frawley following an AFL match between the St Kilda Saints and Carlton Blues
Mr Frawley’s daughter Danielle had praised him last year for being open about his struggles with mental health
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.
He then became the chief executive of the AFL Coaches Association, a posting that coincided with the Essendon supplements saga, something Mr Frawley admitted he ‘wasn’t in a position to deal with’.
‘It did my head in eventually. It was something in my psyche, maybe from the Richmond days, not playing in a final, all those things built up to a tipping point.’
Mr Frawley said he hoped he ‘helped a lot of people’ by being open about his pain
That tipping point came in 2014, when Frawley found himself sitting in his car outside the MCG after calling a game for Triple M.
He couldn’t remember how to get home.
Frawley called his wife who picked him up, with the pair agreeing he desperately needed help.
‘I was stubborn, I didn’t sleep for three weeks and the result… I basically had a nervous breakdown,’ he said.
‘Out of that I got major depression and looking back I probably had bits of depression all the way through.’
He later said he realised mental illness should not be hidden and hoped the stigma around depression would be removed.
‘Manning up in the past was to suffer in silence. Manning up now is to put your hand up,’ he said.
‘I have got no problem talking about mental health and what I went through because I hope I help a lot of people in that.’
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.
Earlier, the Frawley family released a statement detailing 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.
His family said the man’s genuine care for people and natural charm had left him with 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.’
For confidential support call Lifeline: 13 11 14 www.lifeline.org.au or Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636.
ANITA FRAWLEY STATEMENT ON DEATH OF HER HUSBAND DANNY
On Monday, the love of my life was tragically taken from my girls and I.
Many have speculated on the cause and lead up to this tragedy. Danny, as a champion of mental health would want me to continue his legacy and be open with the public of the events leading up to this heartbreak.
While the circumstances of the event are unconfirmed and will remain uncertain until the investigations are complete, it was true that Danny’s mental health had deteriorated in recent weeks.
As is widely known, Danny had experienced and lived with depression dating back a number of years. But to his credit, he had put up his hand and accepted psychiatric treatment, counselling and medication. He recovered and returned to being the Danny of old.
The road leading up to last Monday’s events began 8 months ago when Danny made the decision to take himself off his prescribed medication. At this point Danny felt invincible, like the true competitor and proud man that he was; he felt that he had beaten the disease. In fact, he felt bullet proof, which contributed to his decision to remove himself from his support network including his psychiatric care and not continuing to work with his team of mental health professionals.
The reason I am making this public is that I want this to be a reminder to all those grappling with mental health conditions and to those whom have made progress with their wellbeing that you should always seek help from professionals when considering making decisions surrounding your mental health, even when you feel as though you have fully recovered.
Our final memory of Danny is one we will cherish forever, a night spent sitting around our family table, playing board games and laughing on his 56th birthday. He will never be forgotten and will forever be in our hearts.
I would like to leave everyone with this quote from Danny, ‘manning up in the past was to suffer in silence, manning up now is to put your hand up.’
We invite all those who would like to farewell our remarkable man to join us at RSEA Park — St Kilda Football Club, 32/60 Linton St, Moorabbin, VIC, 3189 at 3pm on Wednesday the 18th of September.
We will be wearing a touch of blue in memory of Danny and for the significance of beyondblue, PukaUp and One In Five. To show your condolences, we ask that you please donate to beyondblue in honour of Danny.
Danny, you were the love of my life and will continue to be until our paths cross again. Since Monday, there has been a gaping hole in our family which will never be repaired. The girls and I are finding it difficult to accept you are gone and our lives as we knew them will never be the same. We miss you. We will always miss you. Anita xx
Danny Frawley’s devastated family released a statement to express their love and pride for a remarkable man who touched the lives of many