ADAM Baird's chance to captain a winning Victoria Country team coached by Danny Frawley will forever hold cherished memories.
Frawley - who died on Monday in a car crash at Millbrook - had coached the Victoria Country team for the previous three years.
Golden Square's Baird played in both 2018 and again this year when he was appointed captain by Frawley for the game against the Victorian Amateur Football Association in July.
"He was a very caring coach... he was always interested in us players asking how we went on the weekend and who we had coming up next week," Baird reflected on Wednesday.
"He had a great football mind; he was great structurally and while he had that really caring side, he could also be hard as a coach.
"He certainly knew how to get your attention, but it's the way he cared about us players and the interest he showed in us that I'll remember most."
And he'll also remember those training sessions where Frawley, the country larrikin, enjoyed a bit of fun at the expense of Baird.
"Spud would always pick on me a bit at training and have a bit of fun, which would give the boys a laugh," Baird said.
"I spoke to him over the phone a few times and captaining the team this year probably made me feel a bit closer to him.
"I remember after we won last year (against Vic Metro) he promised us a few beers and a day at the races, which never came about.
"I rang him late one night after I'd had a couple and left a voice message on his phone. He then sent me a message back saying, 'it's best to leave phone calls for when you're sober, Skinny'.
"Then every night at training this year he'd put his phone number up and say, 'here's my number boys, but don't be like Skinny and ring me at all hours of the night', so that was a bit of a running joke.
"When he announced me as captain before the last training session, it was obviously a huge honour and something now that I'll really cherish."
Only last week Baird messaged Frawley seeking a character reference ahead of a BFNL tribunal appearance.
As well as captaining Vic Country against the VAFA this year - the country boys won by 17 points - Baird was also best-on-ground against Vic Metro last year.
"What has happened this week makes me really hungry to want to be part of the team again next year and play in Spud's honour," Baird said.
Six weeks ago Frawley had been one of the guest speakers at an MND fundraiser in Bendigo organised by Baird's mum, Julie.
Like Baird, his Golden Square team-mate Jack Geary was also a Vic Country captain for Frawley in 2017 against the VAFA and also played under him last year.
"I remember Spud always just being up and about... always making jokes and making the training sessions fun. What you saw when he was on TV with Bounce, that was exactly what he was like," Geary said.
Sandhurst's Andrew Collins was also part of the 2018 Vic Country team, while a hamstring injury forced him to miss Frawley's first game as coach in 2017.
"I did my hamstring at training a week before the game back in 2017, but I can still remember Spud coming into the room afterwards and saying, 'don't worry Collo, you'll just need to come back next year and play with us then'," Collins said.
"And I can remember just how warm it was of him to come into the medical room and reassure me that I'd be right to go for the next year.
"I did play that next year, we had a good win and it was just a great experience."
Since Frawley's death on Monday tributes have flowed for the popular AFL personality who played 240 games with St Kilda, coached Richmond from 2000 to 2004, forged a media career on radio and TV and had become a mental health advocate in recent years after opening up on his own personal battles.
"It's very hard to say anything about Spud that hasn't been said already and you just can't help but feel devastated. Anyone who had anything to do with Danny Frawley had a really warm experience and you knew he was your mate," Collins said.
"That was the good country person in him; he endeared himself to everyone and was just someone you really wanted to play well for, even if it was just a one-off game for Vic Country.
"Being a farm kid from Bridgewater is no different to being a farm kid from Bungaree growing spuds. I know he had the real connection to the land and that country spirit like myself and he was just really inspiring."
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