GROWING up in Ballarat, Dan Butler always knew of the connection between the Saints and his hometown.
A series of St Kilda legends have made the long trek from Ballarat to Moorabbin over the years, Danny Frawley, Tony Lockett and even AFL games record holding coach Mick Malthouse started his playing career with the Saints in 1972 to name just a few.
Now, as the 24-year-old steps out in his second season with the Saints, he knows he has an important legacy to uphold when the club pays tribute to Danny Frawley with Spuds Game: Time 2 Talk.
Butler said he cannot wait to line-up in a game that means so much to the club and to the Frawley family when the Saints clash with Melbourne at Marvel Stadium on Saturday night.
"We've just spoken a bit about it throughout the week," Butler told The Courier on Friday.
"Ever since I've been at the Saints, everyone talks about how funny he was, what a great character he was, we've spoken about it and reflected on what he means to the club.
"Mental health is such a prominent issue in the community, I do encourage anyone to talk, it's okay to be able to speak out."
Butler said football clubs provided the perfect opportunity to talk about what is happening in your life.
"It's a bit of a story with football, we all go through the highs and the lows," he said. "You look at social media, trolls online, getting messages from people, all players would have been on the receiving end of them.
"I think definitely over the last few years, it's become more normal and okay to open up to the group, speak about how you're feeling. It's such a good thing that us as role models can do that and hopefully that can filter down to everyone."
Legendary goalkicker Tony Lockett is expected to make his way to the game to honour his great mate, Lockett, who now lives in Bowral, is rarely seen at football in Victoria.
"I've heard Plugger is going to be there," Butler said. "It'd be a huge thrill if we got to see him in the rooms.
"I still reckon he'd be a tough match-up one-on-one in the goal square."
The Saints are planning to make an annual trip to Ballarat in the pre-season to honour Frawley's memory and Bungaree links.
The club has also been fundraising, alongside the Melbourne Football Club, to raise awareness of mental ill-health with Butler encouraging people to donate at the game to the cause. The capacity has been lifted to 43,000 for the game.
Frawley's widow Anita told AFL.com.au she would love to see not just an annual game, but also an annual round in the league dedicated to mental health awareness.
"I have been listening to his past podcasts, and what resonates through all of them is you've got to start the conversation, it is time to talk," she said. "(Danny) would be thrilled and beside himself that this is happening, but he would also want it to be raised to a bigger platform again, so this is one step, and we're hoping the AFL can next year take it to the next step and make it the entire round.
"I know (Saints CEO) Matt Finnis will be working very, very hard on that. It is something we need to be talking about."
If you or someone you know is in need of crisis support, phone Lifeline 13 11 14. Help is also available, but not limited, via the following organisations. The key message is you are not alone.
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