Moving tribute to Old Boy Danny Frawley

October 30, 2019

Old Collegian Tom O’Keane (SPC 2012-2017)  shares a moving article that he wrote as part of his studies as a second year journalism student at Melbourne’s La Trobe University on the tragic passing of fellow Old Boy Danny Frawley (SPC 1976-79, PY1981) and Danny’s enormous impact on the wider community.

Old Collegian Tom O’Keane


Vale Danny Frawley

Danny ‘Spud’ Frawley was a man filled with charisma and humour, fuelled by his undivided determination to fill other people with laughter and happiness, while at the same time staying true to himself and staying honest.

Frawley grew up in the country town of Bungaree, just east of Ballarat in Victoria. It was here that he earned his widely known nickname of ‘Spud’, after his family’s generational occupation of potato farming.

Danny began his career at the Bungaree football netball club, while attending St Patrick’s College in Ballarat, a school known for its ability to produce footballing talent.

His size and strength caught the attention of AFL clubs and he was later recruited by St Kilda in 1984.

At the raw age of 24, Danny became the club’s captain in 1987 and would serve in the role for a further eight years.

As former teammate Jamie Lamb recalls, it was Danny’s unwavering spirit and toughness which inspired many of the club’s younger players.

“He wasn’t the most gifted player, but he got the best out of himself and he ended up being a great player,” Lamb said.

Old Collegian Danny Frawley

“He was one of a few who were competitive and would compete hard at that extra level,“ he said.

Jamie and Danny, among a group of eight players from Ballarat, would make the trip to St Kilda’s Moorabbin facilities twice a week for training and on the weekends for game day.

It was in these trips that Jamie says he got to see the real side of ‘Spud’.

“We spent a lot of time together, but most of it was about having fun.”

“He was always ready for a bit of laughter and fun,” Lamb said.

However, it was his mentoring and the attention he paid to the younger footballers that really had an impact on players such as Jamie.

“He was experienced at the footy down there, so he taught us a lot.”

“You can learn plenty from people who are three or four years older than you, he would have done that all the way throughout his time at Bungaree as well,” he said.

Danny announced his retirement in 1995 after a highly regarded career which saw him play 240 club games as well as represent Victoria eleven times.

Danny also became St Kilda’s longest serving captain at the time and was inducted into the club’s hall of fame in 2007, cementing his position as one of the club’s true greats.

Frawley also remained in contact with his high school, St Patrick’s college, often returning to the school to talk to students and staff.

Howard Clark, a teacher and former football coach at St Patrick’s College remembers ‘Spud’ as a “very generous man, extremely humble and very giving”.

Danny has been open in the past regarding his battles with depression and mental illness, becoming a symbol for men to talk about the state of their mental health.

In 2018 Danny was the host of ‘No Man Should Ever Walk Alone’, a men’s health podcast on the radio station SEN which was developed to address the growing issue of mental health in men and their reluctance to seek help.

Clark talked of Danny’s impact on the students of St Patrick’s.

“We went to a Melbourne camp last year where he spoke of his mental health issues, rather than football he actually spoke of his demons for about an hour”.

“He also got some of the boys to speak about some of their issues which was remarkable,” he said.

Clark also says Danny was a great source of strength for himself throughout his personal battle with cancer, a battle which he says was made easier with the support of people such as Danny.

“He was a really good mentor for me even though there was a little age difference between us”.

“He would text me regularly to ask how I was going and would visit me in hospital if I was in Melbourne,” he said.

Clark was aware of Danny’s mental health issues but said that Danny never wanted his depression to impact those around him.

“He had this real bravado about him but at the same time this real sensitivity and real demon”.

“He was a very troubled soul at times,” he said.

The prestigious St Patrick’s jumper is only awarded to students who play five or more games for the team, however Clark’s respect for Danny allowed for an exception to the rule.

“I’ve only once donated the jumper to a person who hasn’t played all the games, that person was Danny Frawley,” he said.

Danny Frawley’s impact on both the local and national levels is widely evident, with thousands of tributes from both commentators and the wider public appearing since his passing.

St Kilda Chief Executive Officer Matt Finnis paid his respects the Danny and the impact he made on the club.

“He’ll be remembered as someone who was a great footballer and an even better person”.

“Everyone at the St Kilda football club walked taller when Danny Frawley was in the room,” he said.

Long-time friend, opponent and fellow broadcaster Garry Lyon also paid his respects to his dear friend ‘Spud’ on the radio station SEN.

“He had fun written all over him, laughter was the fuel that drove him, and he was relentless in his pursuit of it”.

“Today it just seems that life will not be as much fun again without ‘Spud’ Frawley in it,” he said.

Danny ‘Spud’ Frawley leaves behind a legacy of the man from Bungaree who became a great player, a club legend, an esteemed commentator and media personality and a pioneer for men’s health.

Danny lives on in the hearts of his wife Anita and his three girls, as well as the entirety of the footballing world.

“Manning up in the past was to suffer in silence, manning up now is to put your hand up.”

– Danny ‘Spud’ Frawley.


If you or someone you love is in crisis or needs support right now, help is available. Please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636. MensLine Australia is a telephone and online counselling service for men with family and relationship concerns. Phone 1300 78 99 78.