Brad Ottens spoke candidly about his former coach at Richmond on the first episode of The Hard Tag. (Image: St Kilda FC; Graphic: Will Cuckson).

With St Kilda and Collingwood taking to the MCG on Thursday night for this year’s edition of ‘Spud’s Game’, there is plenty to be remembered about the man Danny Frawley was and the impact he left on the game of Australian Rules football.

Brad Ottens is one of the ambassadors who will take to the centre circle for the two-minute delay tomorrow night, ahead of a contest which will honour the legacy of Frawley and raise vital funds for several mental health organisations.

Ottens was one player who was fortunate enough to be coached by the great man early in his career at Richmond, with Frawley sitting at the helm as he announced himself to the competition in 2001 by claiming a spot in the All-Australian team and playing a key role in the Tigers side that made it all the way to a Preliminary Final. 

Speaking on Episode 1 of ‘The Hard Tag’ in 2023, Ottens fondly remembered that while ‘Spud’s’ personality was quite animated and over the top, it was the care ‘Spud’ had for his players that shone through the most.

“Publicly he was a joker, a big personality, and he was a lot of fun. We all remember Spud for that, but I think my main memory of him and my relationship with him is that he was very warm and caring,” Ottens said.

“He just protected us… We were very important to him and he was just a great club person, because you just always knew that he was the one sort of looking out for you. He sort of led from the front in that respect.

“He and I became really close, and he took me under his wing a lot. I think that really helped me as a player.

‘It helped me as a person a lot as well, because he would protect me, but he was always hard [on me]. He put that effort into supporting you as a person.”

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Every coach in the game is going to let out the occasional spray. As Ottens described, Frawley’s sprays were fuelled by his adoration for the group and his desire to win. However he also had the unique ability to keep the boys in high spirits with his light-hearted personality.

“He could give some of the best sprays you’ve ever heard in your life, not through anger but just through pure passion,” he said. 

“He had a funny knack of just being able to make a tough situation a little bit lighter just with the humorous side which was always a great strength of his.”

There was one particular moment that stuck out in Ottens’ mind, which came after a poor run of form in the 2004 season. 

“It was getting towards the end of (Spud’s) final year… We come into the club, we’ve lost however many it was in a row. He’s just under a hell of a lot of pressure [and] people were talking about him getting sacked any minute,” Ottens said. 

“Spud walks in… he walks up the front and he’s holding his pump in his hand. The old pump that they used to pump up the footys.

“He’s just holding this pump, doesn’t say anything…and he just holds the pump over his head. The boys are all thinking, oh geez Spud’s lost it here, what’s he going on about? 

“No one wants to look him in the eye thinking they might be on the receiving end of one of Spud’s blow-ups, and someone says “you’re under the pump”, and he goes ‘I’m under the pump aren’t I?’

“The boys all laughed and it took a bit of the pressure off and we could sort of get on with our week which wasn’t going great at the time.”

Frawley will always be remembered for his brilliant football career as both a player and coach, but his larger than life personality is what stuck out the most, and the way he is spoken about by his former players and teammates is a testament to that. 

To catch more from this episode of ‘The Hard Tag’, check it out on YouTube, or for the audio version you can visit us on Spotify.

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