TIME Magazine recognises a person, a group, an idea, or an object that “for better or for worse… has done the most to influence the events of the year.” This is the football world’s equivalent.
In 2019, the Football Person of the Year Award has a remarkably sad undertone due the tragic passing of Danny Frawley in September.
2019 FOOTBALL PERSON OF THE YEAR – DANNY ‘SPUD’ FRAWLEY
The football world lost a great friend this year. It goes without saying that this sense of loss pales into insignificance compared to that of Danny Frawley’s family and friends, whom everyone sends their love and thoughts to.
Frawley’s tragic passing in September, leaves a significant hole in the hearts of many football supporters, as Spud was greatly admired and respected amongst the football community. This was especially so at St Kilda, where Frawley was a favourite son, captaining the club for nine seasons and remaining a larger than life figure.
And at Richmond, where Spud coached for five seasons and what proved to be the Tiger’s most successful period in the thirty-seven year drought that was finally broken in 2017. But Spud’s legend – and laughter – spread beyond club loyalty lines. Everyone who followed football knew Spud and so, so many had enormous affection for him even if they never even met him. Regardless, you knew him all the same.Well, you at least felt like you knew him and you felt like he was just one of your friends because that’s what he was like.
This largely came from his role in the media where he became football’s greatest ever entertainer, bar none, in history. His Sunday night show, Bounce presented alongside long-time colleague and friend Jason Dunstall developed a cult following and earlier in the year celebrated its 350th episode. The fanfare surrounding the milestone showed how much the show was valued amongst its loyal fans. Spud’s famous Golden First Award was introduced on Bounce – and long may it continue.
On radio, Spud too was golden. A golden trumpet blowing, glass eye bouncing head-wobbling maniac that made for unbelievably good listening, Spud was comfortably the best personality on radio in the country during the golden era of Triple M’s iconic Saturday Rub. It was a show that flipped football broadcasting on its head. For footy fans, it was on par if not better, than any radio show ever produced anywhere in the world – and Spud was unquestionably its star.
The Saturday Rub team of James Brayshaw, Damian Barrett, Garry Lyon and Brian Taylor reunited for 2 ¾ hour tribute show to Danny Frawley, in one of the many beautiful tributes to Spud that occurred over the previous month. The show which was simulcast on Triple M, afl.com.au and 1116 SEN was wonderfully put together and is essential listening. It was a show that did a great man justice.
Vale Danny Frawley – 2019’s Football Person of the Year.
Jaiydn Stephenson was at the centre of the AFL betting cover-up that has now spawned an anti-corruption investigation into the Victorian gambling watchdog.
Willie Rioli, alongside Gold Coast’s Brayden Crossley, faces the biggest AFL doping suspension in history, however, the Rioli case also exposed an incompetent anti-doping agency.
Tony Cochrane led the charge for an emergency assistance package to help save the Gold Coast Suns, whose future is far from guaranteed.
Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti, one of the game’s most-loved figures furthered his status as a cult hero courtesy of the Pickett Palace song. Walla also found immense courage in sharing the story of his heartbreaking childhood in the Herald Sun.
The Footy Show was not a person – but a juggernaut pivotal to the introduction of an entertainment to a sport that was in serious trouble before it burst onto the scenes of the mid-1990s. After 26 years, it’s certainly an end of an era.