Danny Frawley’s legacy to football is much more than the larger than life persona he shared both on and off the field during and post his 240 game St Kilda playing career.
His death in September, 2019 — at just 56 years of age — shocked the football community and started an awareness of repeated head injuries that is still to reach its height.
Frawley’s death was ruled as suicide by the coroner and an examination of his brain nearly a year later found he was suffering from stage two chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
The neurodegenerative disease had been caused by repeated head injuries.
A former teammate of Frawley — albeit for a very brief time — was former Kyabram footballer Glenn Coghlan.
Now living in North Queensland, Coghlan was recruited to the Saints in the last of Frawley’s 12 seasons at Moorabbin.
He arrived at the Saints in 1995 as a forward, but with Frawley’s retirement his 194cm frame was used in defence during the 1996-97 seasons.
Coghlan played alongside Frawley on half a dozen occasions during that 1995 season, experiencing first hand the love players and supporters had for the renowned prankster and champion full-back.
“When I first got to St Kilda I remember him and Loewey (champion centre half-forward Stewart Loewe) coming up to introduce themselves at Waverley (VFL Park, the home ground of the Saints in that era),” Cogthlan said.
“I played up forward in my first game and Spud down back.
“But at different times throughout that year I played a few games down back with him”, he said, explaining his career at the Saints was cut short by knee problems which still worry him today.
Frawley played the funny man alongside a former full-forward nemesis of his, Hawthorn champion Jason Dunstall, on Fox Footy’s The Bounce for many years.
He became even more widely loved than in his playing days as the many “physical challenges’’ the pair embarked on were a weekend highlight for many football fans of the high rating comedy football show.
Frawley was in the minds and hearts of every person in Friday night’s crowd for the third annual Spud’s Game; Time to Talk — between St Kilda and Brisbane — at Marvel Stadium.
The first of the emotional tribute games was played in 2021, in partnership with Movement to promote mental health.
Prior to the match, the game was delayed by two minutes with Frawley’s close friends Lyon, Loewe and Tony Lockett paying tribute to Frawley in the middle of the ground and asking for those that were watching to check with their mates with both teams surrounding them and his family watching on.
For Glenn Coghlan memories of Frawley are among the most beloved of his four years at St Kilda, which reaped 29 games and seven goals (all in his first season before he spent the last two years in defence).
Coghlan made his debut with the Saints in round three of the 1995 season, but didn’t play alongside Frawley until round six.
The Saints played Fitzroy that day, at Waverley Park, beaten by 11 points after they led by nine points at the final change.
He had debuted three weeks earlier, having arrived at St Kilda after being selected in the 1995 pre-season draft.
Coghlan only had two disposals on debut, playing mostly deep forward, while Frawley collected 17 disposals.
Two weeks later — Coghlan was dropped to the reserves for round seven — they played in a winning team together, albeit at either end of the ground, when Coghlan played the first of his two three-goal games for the Saints.
Coghlan had 16 disposals, equally Frawley’s output at the defensive end, the Saints beating Carlton by 56 points as Stewart Loewe kicked five goals.
Frawley didn’t play in round 15 when Coghlan kicked another bag of three against a team that included Garry Ablett Snr — 6.2 from nine kicks — and the Saints lost by just eight points.
Two weeks later Coghlan played his senior last game for the season and missed the emotional farewell to Frawley, who retired at season’s end when the Saints had a resounding 54 point win against Footscray at Western Oval.
Frawley was carried from the ground as Peter Everitt kicked six goals and had 23 disposals in a best on ground display. Loewe and Saints opportunist Craig O’Brien kicked nine between them.
He was the centre of attention again on Friday night, this time looking down on his Saints and the legacy that is now Spud’s Game — in memory of his tragic death.