AFL legend Danny Frawley has died after a crash near Gordon this afternoon.
Frawley, the second longest-serving captain at St Kilda and Saints Hall of Fame member, was driving a white utility on Old Melbourne Road near Millbrook about 1.40pm before it left the road and hit a tree.
Nicknamed 'Spud', the champion footballer, who also coached Richmond for four seasons, grew up in Bungaree and was recruited to the AFL after his schooling at St Patrick's College.
"The St Patrick's College community is devastated by the tragic death of Old Collegian and inducted College Legend Danny Frawley," the college said of the father of three in a statement.
"Danny was a student at the College from 1976 to 1979 and was among the very first Old Collegians inducted as a Legend of the Old Collegians Association in 2002.
"Throughout his incredible football and media career Danny has forever been a passionate, present and vocal advocate of St Patrick's College, and often offered his services to assist in our 1st XVIII program.
"The College will offer its hand of care and support to Danny's immediate family including wife Anita, daughters Chelsea, Danielle and Keeley, mother Shirley and his extended family and friends at this terrible time."
Danny Frawley coached the @aflvic country team the last three years and was a wonderful ambassador for rep footy in general, and country footy in particular. He was in his element, roaring with laughter while surrounded by the team after this year’s win. Vale Spud. pic.twitter.com/eDCVZ5Lisp— Ben O'Brien (@BenOBSRV) September 9, 2019
Frawley's family has a long history in the Bungaree area. His grandparents Bryan and Nora were potato farmers in Bungaree, a legacy that was carried on by his father Brian, and Danny in his early years.
Like his father, Frawley was heavily involved in the community and the Bungaree Football Club.
Bungaree Football Netball Club vice-president Heath Boyd said the club was devastated.
"Everyone knows Bungaree because of Danny," he said.
"The club wants to give our condolences to Frawley family, they've been a huge part of our footy family, and we're thinking of them.
"He was just a very, very nice guy."
In 2007 Frawley was inducted into the Ballarat Sports Hall of Fame.
A Bungaree Football Club pavillion was named in his honour in 2013.
Three of Frawley's signed St Kilda, international rules and Big V guernseys were put on show in the facility.
In 2016, he became the Victoria Country coach, the team that takes on its metropolitan counterparts in annual representative matches.
Listen to Bungaree Football Netball Club president Andrew Maher speak to The Courier below.
Bungaree Football Netball Club president Andrew Maher said Frawley was an 'intregral' part of the community.
"As a football club we have a pavillion in honour of Danny Frawley and all his great achievements in his career," he said.
"He is an integral part of our community based on his achievements in life and his family are still a part of the district, a part of the community and a part of the football club.
"He is going to be sadly missed and leaves a big hole in everyone's heart. We just wish him and his family our deepest condolences.
"Hopefully we can honour this great man for years and years to come as we have in the football club."
Ballarat and District Trotting Club chief executive Paul Rowse said Frawley was a great friend of the club.
"Today we're completely shocked by what happened this afternoon," he said.
"The Frawley family is synonymous with harness racing, and our thoughts go to the family."
Frawley was on the board of Harness Racing Victoria, and had a long involvement with the sport in Ballarat.
He was an ongoing community contributor, supporting multiple causes including the Fiona Elsey Cancer Research Institute as a patron for the Ballarat Cycle Classic, marrying his passion for community and sport and fitness.
Committee for Ballarat chief executive and former colleague of Frawley Michael Poulton said Frawley was 'compassionate, humble and simply great fun'.
"Danny's passing will leave an incredible hole in many peoples lives as he was a much loved person. To his wife Anita, daughters Chelsea, Danielle and Keely, my heart aches for them," he said.
"Danny was the CEO of the AFL Coaches Association when I worked with him from Sept 2012 to Feb 2014. Coming to work each day was an absolute joy as he was always so full of life and gave all he had to helping AFL coaches. He could make you laugh at almost anything and he had an amazing ability to connect people and make them feel special.
"Danny the footballer was as hard as they come; Danny the individual, colleague and friend, was compassionate, humble and simply great fun."
Superintendent Jenny Wilson said her thoughts were with the family.
"At this stage, as normal, police are going through contacting the next of kin," she said at a press conference at Gordon Police Station.
"All in all it's another tragic event for the community."
St Kilda Football Club said it was "heartbroken".
FRAWLEY'S CAREER AT A GLANCE
- Recruited from St Patrick's Ballarat
- St Kilda Football Club - 1984-1995 240 games, 13 goals
- Captain 1987-1995, second longest serving captain
- Victoria - 11 games from 1987-1994
- St Kilda best and fairest - 1988
- All Australian - 1988
- St Kilda's hall of fame - 2007
- Coached Richmond 2000-04 - 45 wins, 68 losses
- Fox Footy, co-host of Bounce with Jason Dunstall and Cameron Mooney
- 1116 SEN Footy team on Friday nights and Sunday afternoons
WATCH THE LIVE PRESS CONFERENCE BELOW (It might take a moment to load)
Police continue to investigate the crash, which occurred near Ryans Road on Old Melbourne Road in Millbrook. They refused to say if speed was a factor.
"Of course this matter will proceed to the Coroners Court and in time to come we will be conducting a thorough investigation," Superintendent Wilson said.
Police say the road is expected to be opened "within the next couple of hours".
I’m deeply saddened by the passing of Danny Frawley. I had the privilege to play against him, work with him in the media and thoroughly enjoyed his company on the All Australian Committee. Much loved person with a big heart. RIP GR8 Man. GJ. pic.twitter.com/JD5qSLSxrS— Glen Jakovich (@gjakovich27) September 9, 2019
Superintendent Wilson told The Courier it was a tough day for emergency services crews.
"The impacts of these incidents not only impact the family and community that are involved, but they impact the members involved," she said.
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