‘I wish I’d rung’: Best mate’s regret
AFL legends Garry Lyon and Jason Dunstall have broken their silences on the devastating loss of their great friend Danny Frawley.
The 240-game St Kilda legend and former Richmond coach died at the scene of the one-vehicle crash on Monday, one day after his 56th birthday.
The loss has been felt deeply across the AFL world but few felt the loss as deeply as Lyon and Dunstall.
During a touching and emotional tribute from the AFL360 and On The Couch teams on Monday night, Dunstall and Lyon were notably absent.
AFL360 host Gerard Whateley said Lyon and Dunstall were unable to make an appearance on TV with the pain too raw on Monday, having been arguably his closest two on-air partners.
Following his incredible football playing and coaching careers, Frawley was known as an AFL commentator and host on television and radio, including Fox Footy's Bounce, of which he hosted with Dunstall for more than 13 seasons and more than 350 games.
Lyon worked with Frawley, Brian Taylor, James Brayshaw and Damian Barrett on Triple M's Saturday Rub team.
But in recent years, Lyon and Frawley moved to SEN to play key roles in the station's football coverage.
The four surviving originals of The Saturday Rub will come together in a radio event simulcast across both stations to pay tribute to Frawley on Saturday at midday.
But Lyon and Dunstall sat down with AFL360 on Thursday to share their sadness at their great friend's passing.
Asked how they're going after Frawley's death, Lyon's grief was clear.
"You can't answer that question, because there's no right answer," he said. "Everyone is dealing with the same thing and the pain and how're you going? I'm not going great but compared to Anita and the girls, they're the priority here, and the rest of us fall into line. It's bloody horrible."
Having heard the emotional tributes which have been flooding out throughout the week, Lyon said Frawley "wanted to be loved" and the Melbourne great wished his friend had heard how much affection fans, players and colleagues from across the Australian sporting community had for him.
Dunstall said he was left with unanswerable questions in the wake of Frawley's death.
"It's hard to get your head around," he began. "It's an illness I'll never every understand. I hate its guts but I can't get a handle on it. It just seems so senseless and you're just left with this giant void. It doesn't matter how devastated we are, there are family members who are 1000 times worse off and I can't comprehend that."
Dunstall said he had exchanged texts with Frawley's wife Anita but said he wouldn't be able to talk if he got on the phone to speak with her.
"It's funny, he had some time off I don't know how many years ago now, and that blindsided me, because I worked with the guy every week and we had so much fun together and I wasn't aware of anything, I didn't see any of the signs," Dunstall said. "I'd make a point of asking him every now and then 'how're you going' until you get to the stage of feeling like you're bugging him so you stop asking. Then you think, should I have been more attentive, should I have seen something, should I have noticed something, should I have said more - what can you do?"
'I WISH I'D RUNG'
Lyon said he and Dunstall both went and visited Frawley when he first took time off.
Lyon had similar issues afterwards and he said Frawley would ask how he was going and ring him, every time he saw him.
"I wish I had have rung if that was what he was going through," Lyon said. "You can't know and that's the hard thing."
Lyon said he saw Frawley on Saturday before his final episode of Bounce but nothing seemed amiss.
Whateley said he was in good form on the show as they handed over a birthday cake.
"That's what makes it harder to come to grips with because he hid it so well and he was such a good performer when the cameras went on, he was on. We'd spend a couple of hours in the lead up to shows and we'd sit there watching the last game and we'd just sit there watching the last game and we'd bag just about everything going on in the game.
"I just don't understand the disease."
Dunstall said he wouldn't be able to look back at Saturday night's episode of Bounce, Frawley's last episode.
Dunstall received a call on Monday afternoon from Mark Robinson with the news.
He said he couldn't believe it and went numb.
"I basically had no feeling for hours, and it wasn't until I saw a replay of 360 doing a tribute and that's when I lost it and burst into tears and couldn't stop crying but I hadn't cried until then because I wasn't accepting what had happened."
Lyon said he was asleep and was hit by a wave of text messages with friends and commiserating. He rang around but soon the devastating reality set in.
Asked how they will remember Frawley, Dunstall's emotions broke free over.
"It's hard to answer - he's just a great mate, it's impossible not to love him," he said.
Lyon answered: "He was a fun magnet, it didn't matter what was going on, it didn't matter what you were doing, how serious or how... he just had a nose for fun. If it got too serious, he'd lose focus and find fun in it. That's how I'll remember him."
If you need help with depression, please see Beyond Blue for a list of organisations that can help. If you or someone you know needs help, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.