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Here’s to loud, obnoxious, intimidating Chip

Jack Fitzpatrick played alongside James Frawley at the Demons from 2010 to 2014 before Frawley joined the Hawks. A couple of years later, Fitzpatrick found himself next to his close mate at Waverley and he shares a few experiences with the soon-to-be 200-gamer, in an exclusive column.

I remember walking through the doors at Melbourne, a wide-eyed youngster into the daunting AFL club environment.

There was this solidly built, loud and obnoxious character who stood out immediately – his name was James Frawley.

My first recollection of Chip was that he was quite intimidating. Now that I think about it, apart from the intimidation, not much else has changed.

It took a little while just to ‘get’ him. He’s a couple of years older than me so he’d been at the club longer and, as a being a young draftee, that loud, outgoing character, meant that it took me a while to be comfortable around him.

He tends to be the life of the party so people gravitate towards him and he is much loved. That added to the intimidation factor early and he almost could’ve been seen as the cool guy.

He has quite a loud laugh as well. If you walk into a room and there are people wrestling, you can almost be sure that he’s in the middle of it – that’s almost guaranteed.

But there’s a bit more than meets the eye with Chip – he’s actually a thoughtful, kind-hearted guy. He’s also generous and it just takes some time to understand that he’s not this big, scary bloke.

I played on him a lot at training and he’s obviously tall and strong – he spends a lot of time at the gym working on those arms of his – but he’s actually quite fast as well.

He has that mixture of strength and speed which is difficult to play against and you always knew that the opposition key forward was going to have a tough day.

My first experience playing alongside him, though, was during a NAB Cup game. We played Fremantle in Perth and Chip tells a story where he was streaming out of the backline, a lovely piece of play by him, kicks it to me on the lead but he swears that the ball falconed me.

Now I unfortunately did drop the mark but it wasn’t because it falconed me and we still, to this day, have an argument once a fortnight about that piece of play.

Over the years, he’s stayed the same type of guy but that perception of him has changed dramatically and the more I get to know him and build that connection, the more I understood his personality.

He has a lovely wife, Kasey, and a dog Frank, who’s absolutely their child – they adore the ground he walks on.

A couple of years ago, Chip told me that it was Frank’s birthday so he went and bought and cooked a nice steak for Frank for dinner. That’s a bit too far for me.

He likes to pretend that he’s this manly-man but he’s a lot better at cooking and cleaning than he lets on. Kase is always putting up things on her Instagram of him helping with the housework.

James is fiercely loyal. He moved from Ballarat to play footy but he’s still as close to his Ballarat mates now as he was 10 years ago.

He gets back to Ballarat every chance he gets. That friendship could have widened and widened as the years went on because he spends so much time away from Ballarat but he’s still so close with them.

That loyalty helped me out when I got to the Hawks. I didn’t know any of the guys there so I attached myself to him to begin with.

On the last night of a pre-season training camp in my first year at Hawthorn, we stayed up in my room having a couple of drinks and playing PlayStation against one-another.

That probably wasn’t ideal to be at a pre-season camp and being up that late playing video games while having a couple of drinks. That’s one of my favourite memories.

He rates himself at the PlayStation – actually, he rates himself at most things and he’s even gone as far as saying he’s the greatest player ever at pool and things like that.

Loud, obnoxious and life of the party but he’s also such a genuine person and one of my closest mates so I’m pumped to see him get to game 200. It’s been an honour to call him a friend, a teammate and – more often than he’d like to admit – to be mistaken as his brother.