Former football agent Ricky Nixon gave all the warning signs that he wasn’t quite coping with the death of his great mate Danny Frawley.
When the man lovingly known as ‘Spud’ took his own life on September 9, those closest to him looked back and thought they too probably missed the signs.
Nixon, 56, was taken to The Alfred Hospital by police for assessment from his Port Melbourne flat on Tuesday afternoon after threatening self harm.
The former St Kilda star and player agent made three Facebook posts between 5.40pm and 5.54pm on Tuesday indicating he wanted to take his own life.
The first said he had broken up with his fiancee Melissa Huynh and that she had ‘no idea how bad he was struggling’.
Ricky Nixon (left) has been taken to hospital after making suicidal threats on social media.
The former St Kilda star made three Facebook posts between 5.40pm and 5.54pm on Tuesday indicating he wanted to take his own life
‘My best mate suicided think I’ll go with him this place is a c**t. That (sic) life goodbye,’ he wrote.
The second simply read ‘I’ve tried, goodbye’ and the third ‘f**k [you] all I’m going Danny good riddance’.
A week earlier, Nixon, who refers to himself as ‘Chicken’, gave his followers on Facebook an ominous warning that he wasn’t coping.
‘Driving along listening to Radio then this Elton John No.1 Song “Daniel” came on bought me to tears,’ he wrote.
‘Daniel is traveling tonight on a planeI can see the red tail lights heading for SpainOh and I can see Daniel waving goodbyeGod it looks like Daniel, must be the clouds in my eyes.’
The post was littered with typos, much like the rambling tweets that saw police take him away in handcuffs on Tuesday night.
At Frawley’s funeral on September 18, Nixon looked unwell – his face blood red.
The pair were teammates at St Kilda for six seasons from 1986-91 and became close friends.
‘Spud was my mate my captain my soul – always there for me now I can’t be there for him,’ a devastated Nixon posted on Facebook on the night of Frawley’s death on September 9.
The day after Frawley’s funeral, Nixon took to the stage at the MCG for the Toccolan Footy Luncheon – a charity event that featured former AFL greats Matthew Richardson, Nicky Winmar, Diesel Williams and AFLW star Jesse Hoskins.
Nixon smiled for photos and posted them on Facebook.
Nixon’s posts reference Danny Frawley’s (left) death last month in a single-car crash in Millbrook, Victoria, in what police are treating as a suspected suicide
Nixon and fiancee Melissa Huynh appeared to be in high spirits while enjoying a wine tour of the Yarra Ranges over the weekend
Who is Ricky Nixon?
Ricky Nixon, 56, is a former AFL player and sports agent.
His AFL career began with the Carlton Blues, where he played four games between 1983 and 1985.
He then joined St Kilda where he played 51 games and booted 32 goals between 1986 and 1991.
His career ended with Hawthorn, where he played eight games before he retired in 1993.
The following year, the former PE teacher established his sports management company Flying Start.
He made headlines in 2011 when it was revealed he had an inappropriate relationship with a 17-year-old girl who had previously been embroiled in controversies involving St Kilda players, including his client Nick Riewoldt.
The then married Nixon admitted to visiting the girl at her hotel room on at least three occasions.
He received a two year suspension from the AFL Players’ Association Accreditation Board following the incident.
Days later he was back in his Vital Health Checks van where he visited people struggling with their own mental health issues in Bendigo – in country Victoria.
Like Frawley, who was a champion for highlighting mental health issues, Nixon felt he needed to help too.
He recently told ex-Herald Sun sport reporter Ron Reed he was: ‘absolutely hell-bent on doing something in this world to make sure I can help people’.
It has seen Nixon embark on converting ambulances into mobile health studios – physical and mental health – which enable people in workplaces to have 20-minute check-ups.
He recently told a luncheon he got out of bed every morning with a positive attitude.
‘You have to understand yourself … I understand that I’m an adrenaline junkie and I know when the “go” light goes on. I can go a month without a drink, then I’ll have 6,000 and I know it’s not good for your body or for your family so I manage it. It’s just happiness … at the end of the day, all that matters is your happiness. People who live the longest are those who are happiest. If it’s not going too well for you don’t be scared to go talk to someone, to get a bit of help.’
Nixon had put it out there that he was getting a fresh start, but his old demons don’t appear to want to let him go.
After Tuesday’s tweets, TV fisherman Rex Hunt pleaded with Nixon to call him for support, implying that he and Ms Huynh had helped him in his own dark times.
‘Ricky ring me now…Ricky I’ve been there… ring me now I know how you’re feeling I’ve rung you no answer where are you,’ he wrote.
‘I can help for Christs sake. You and Melissa were there for me. Please ring me. Please.’
Hunt later wrote that he was ‘very concerned this is the real deal’.
The mood improved upon word from concerned friends who called triple-0 that police had arrived at Nixon’s home and taken him to hospital.
One of Nixon’s friends has since tried to reassure all those concerned about his welfare.
‘Ricky is doing the best he can, he has now being given the care he needs. And at this point we ask that as mates we’re all there for him and his family and of course each other,’ the friend wrote.
Victoria Police said a Port Melbourne man was ‘taken to hospital for assessment after making threats on a social media platform today’.
Ricky Nixon had been on the road in his new mental health check vans. Nixon had claimed he had been given a ‘new life’ and had turned the corner after years of despair
Nixon and fiancee Melissa Huynh in happier times. Nixon made threats to self harm on social media and police rushed to help him
Nixon is not believed to have harmed himself before he was taken to hospital.
The former AFL agent and his fiancee were on a wine tour of the Yarra Ranges, just outside Melbourne, on the weekend and appeared to be in high spirits.
Nixon’s colourful history includes 63 AFL games, mostly for St Kilda, in the 1980s and 1990s, after which he became Australia’s highest-profile sports agent.
He founded sports management company Flying Start in 1994 and later owned a fitness club and two sports bars at Docklands Stadium in Melbourne.
Nixon’s clients were a who’s who of AFL stars including Gary Ablett Sr, Ben Cousins, Wayne Carey, Jason Dunstall, Tony Lockett, Garry Lyon, Nick Riewoldt and Tom Hawkins.
Nixon took to social media on Tuesday to say that he and his fiancee Melissa Huynh had split
It all came crashing down after a series of controversies in the past decade, beginning in 2009 when he crashed into a tram while intoxicated.
Nixon blew a blood alcohol reading of 0.108, more than twice the legal limit, after his Alfa Romeo collided with the tram in Melbourne’s Richmond.
His car was wedged under the tram and he fled the scene. A magistrate fined him $1,250 and suspended his licence for 10 months.
Two years later he admitted to ‘inappropriate dealings’ with a 17-year-old girl including buying her alcohol, but denied any sexual contact.
The girl was previously embroiled with two St Kilda players Nixon managed, one of whom admitted to having sex with her.
She claimed to have compromising photos and videos of the players and of Nixon with her, which she said were given to police and newspapers.
Nixon posted that Melissa had ‘no idea how bad he was struggling’ following their split
Nixon visited her three times at an apartment paid for by the football club, including on Valentines Day 2011.
The girl claimed she initially had sex with Nixon in a bid to set him up as ‘revenge’ for issues surrounding the nude photo scandal but it developed into a month-long affair.
Nixon denied any affair and said one of the visits was after he discovered she used his credit card to buy a plane ticket.
The AFL Players’ Association Accreditation Board suspended him for two seasons over the scandal, ending his agent career, and his 17-year marriage collapsed.
In July 2012 he was charged with assaulting his then-fiancee Tegan Gould, 20 years his junior, at their apartment.
The pair argued on the bed and Nixon grabbed her by the neck, pulled her hair, pushed her against the wall, and hit her in the face.
Ms Gould ran away and called police who arrived to arrest Nixon, but he broke free and bolted as officers led him to the paddy wagon, only to be tackled after running 30m.
He pleaded guilty to intentionally causing injury and escaping from police custody and was order to do 200 hours of community service along with alcohol rehab.
Ricky Nixon (centre) has been taken to hospital after making suicidal threats on social media
However, less than two months after the sentence he was pulled over for using his phone while driving and subsequently charged with drink driving on a suspended licence.
Last November he pleaded guilty to a series of other traffic offences including running a red light in 2013, four speeding charges in 2013 to 2017 and using a mobile phone while driving in 2016.
He was fined $300 and a six-month good behaviour bond from that judgement expired in May.
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Ricky Nixon played 63 AFL games before becoming Australia’s highest-profile sports agent