Wife Anita Frawley and daughters Keeley, Danielle and Chelsea. Picture: Stefan Postles/AAP
Wife Anita Frawley and daughters Keeley, Danielle and Chelsea. Picture: Stefan Postles/AAP

Moment that left mourners in stitches

They didn't know Danny Frawley, but the mourners who attended today's emotional memorial service for the Saints great got a rare and privileged glimpse at the man who cared so deeply about family, football and friends.

Spread out between the 50m arcs at Moorabin, the spiritual home of the St Kilda Football Club, hundreds gathered on picnic rugs to say a final farewell.

They wiped away tears as they watched on the big screen the live, private funeral for the 56-year-old who died on September 9 and left behind a hole that will never be filled.

But inside the Kingston City Town Hall and on the oval, they also laughed as stories of Spud's legendary sense of humour and comedic timing flowed freely.

Mourners laughed over the time he woke St Kilda's two-time Brownlow Medalist Robert Harvey after a bender at 9am holding a cold beer. He told Harvey simply: "This'll make you as good as new."

They heard how Frawley tormented his Triple M co-host Damian Barrett with a line he repeated time and time again: "You could put a glass eye to sleep."

And how he held himself in incredibly high regard, telling the team: "My brand is flying."

 

Wife Anita Frawley and daughters Keeley, Danielle and Chelsea walk behind Frawley’s coffin. Picture: Stefan Postles
Wife Anita Frawley and daughters Keeley, Danielle and Chelsea walk behind Frawley’s coffin. Picture: Stefan Postles

They heard his good friend Garry Lyon relay how much Frawley loved his mates but how that love paled in comparison to his biggest love of all.

"He loved his girls more than anything," Lyon said. "I've never seen a father more proud, or a husband more proud of his girls."

They heard his former players speak proudly of the way he led them as captain and coach.

"You were a bloody good coach," former Richmond captain Wayne Campbell said. "We loved you and we'll miss you."

They heard how the "good country bloke" grew up in a home with his five siblings and how bath time meant he went last when the water was murky and cold.

And how he slept on a single bed wedged so tightly between his brothers' beds that he couldn't even tuck the sheets in.

And they heard from his wife, Anita, who delivered on her last promise.

"We're going to give him a helluva send off," she said, and his girls did.

Around the boundary at the ground where he spent countless hours refining his craft, thousands gathered at 5pm for one final lap of honour.

 

As the hearse entered the ground, those who lined the fence clapped softly at first then louder. Frawley's girls, Chelsea, Danielle and Keeley held hands with their mum and walked slowly behind.

They took deep breaths and fought back tears before the famous St Kilda theme song rang out and Frawley left the ground.

Flowers, cards and Saints gear gathered at the front entrance where a makeshift shrine had been started after news broke of Frawley's death last week. It has grown every day since.

Among the kind words was a note that read: "The world's suddenly become a lot less fun."

A key theme to today's event was Frawley's ongoing and well-documented fight with mental health - a subject Anita said in a statement on Monday was what her husband would've wanted.

Former player and mental health advocate Wayne Schwass struggled to get through a speech about the conversations he had with Frawley about their respective struggles.

 

James Brayshaw and Sarah Brayshaw at the service for Danny Frawley. Picture: Scott Barbour/AAP
James Brayshaw and Sarah Brayshaw at the service for Danny Frawley. Picture: Scott Barbour/AAP

 

The ex-Kangaroo and Sydney Swan said the phone calls always ended with Frawley telling him he was loved.

"We live in a world that expects us to be stoic, sensitive and show our sensitivities," Schwass said.

"The male mantra: Harden up, soak it up, man up, has been handed down from generation to generation like it's some sort of badge of honour that teaches us from a very early age that to be a man - a real man - you need to be tough."

He said he loved Frawley "unashamedly".

"You were and will always be a loyal, loving, supporting and encouraging friend who I will love forever," Schwass said.

"I miss our chats. Our deep conversations, the practical jokes, your infectious spirit, your passion. I'm so proud of you Spud. I'm proud of how hard you fought.

"I'm proud of how hard you worked to overcome these insidious conditions the first time around."

If you or someone you know needs help, counselling is available through Lifeline on 13 11 14.

 

Nick Riewoldt reacts as the coffin of Danny Frawley completes a final lap of honour after a memorial service for Danny Frawley. Picture: Scott Barbour/AAP
Nick Riewoldt reacts as the coffin of Danny Frawley completes a final lap of honour after a memorial service for Danny Frawley. Picture: Scott Barbour/AAP


BEFORE & AFTER: 110kgs to Iron Man

premium_icon BEFORE & AFTER: 110kgs to Iron Man

A near-death experience sparked Byron man to turn his life around

Tip-off leads police to 200 cannabis plants at Kyogle home

premium_icon Tip-off leads police to 200 cannabis plants at Kyogle home

A 24-year-old man will face court after police made the discovery

Could a snail bring work on controversial bypass to a halt?

premium_icon Could a snail bring work on controversial bypass to a halt?

Construction plans to be assessed for environmental impact