Jason Dunstall has paid tribute to his late great mate Danny Frawley with a touching speech ahead of ‘Spud’s Game’ between St Kilda and Brisbane on Friday night.
Frawley’s death shocked the AFL world when he died in a one-vehicle car crash near Ballarat, one day after his 56th birthday in September 2019.
An AFL legend, Frawley played 240 games for St Kilda, including nine seasons as captain, before coaching the Richmond Tigers between 2000 and 2004.
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He was also inducted into St Kilda’s Hall of Fame in 2006 and was a deeply loved member of the Fox Footy team as the host of Bounce.
Frawley was nicknamed Spud and ‘Spud’s Game’ was launched in 2021 as an initiative to raise funds for mental health initiates run out of the Danny Frawley Centre, which opened in Melbourne last year.
Frawley and Hawthorn legend Dunstall played in the same era together and were thick as thieves during their careers and as hosts of Bounce.
Before Friday night’s game began, St Kilda and Brisbane formed a circle around Dunstall in the middle of Marvel Stadium as he delivered a stirring message in honour of Frawley.
“What a privilege it is to be standing here, carrying on the legacy of our great mate Spud,” Dunstall said.
“Look around you. This is a proud football community. Everyone in this stadium and watching from home has shown up for this important cause. We want to invite everyone into the huddle for this important message.
“Being here tonight, or watching from home, this is a reminder that we have each other’s backs. Let’s wrap our arms around one another and the community.
“You are not alone. Thank you for showing up for your mates, your family and Spud. Let’s roll up the sleeves and get to work.”
Garry Lyon said on Fox Footy: “Very special moment, nicely done. Our own Jason Dunstall there, who was so close (to Frawley).”
Lyon, Dunstall, and Bounce co-host Andrew Gaze paid tribute to Frawley and reiterated the importance of checking in your loved ones, no matter how happy they may seem.
“He went through a period where he was very open about (the fact) he had some challenges,” Gaze said on Fox Footy.
“He was going through some tough times. It came as a big surprise because whenever I was around him — I was seeing the fun, up, vibrant Spud.
“The biggest lesson I learned was just because you see the funny side of someone, checking in on them to make sure they’re OK, because sometimes what you see is not necessarily the reality.”
Dunstall described Frawley as “a great mate that we miss every day”.
“It’s amazing to think he can be such a happy person that makes others so happy, and yet was fighting an incredible battle internally,” Dunstall said.
“It just shows you how good they are at covering it up and keeping it internalised, and I wish they wouldn’t. I just wish they would realise their mates just want to help. We all want to help.”
Garry Lyon said: “I loved him. I loved everything he stood for. I loved the way he embraced whatever we were doing and wholeheartedly threw himself into it. There was never a dull moment with him.”
Earlier, greats of the AFL and wider sporting landscape played in the inaugural Spud’s Game Curtain Raiser before St Kilda took on Brisbane.