DOB: 23 April 1966
Died: 20 March 2012
From: Dublin, Ireland
Brownlow Medal - 1991
Grand Final team - 1988
Best and Fairest - 1991, 1995, 1996, 1997
All Australian - 1991, 1993
Club President - 2008 - 2009
150 Heroes selection
Team of the Century interchange
Victoria state player - 1990, 1991, 1993, 1994
Australian International Rules player - 1987, 1988, 1998
Irish International Rules player - 1990
Reserves Best and Fairest - 1987
Life Member - 1996
AFL Life Member
Australian Football Hall of Fame
MFC Hall of Fame - 2006
Recruited from Ireland as part of Ron Barassi's "Irish Experiment", Stynes came to the club in November 1984 while they were enjoying a surplus of ruckmen. In his first intra-club practice matches he was shadowed by Peter Keenan, acting as an on-field coach of the rules and how to play as a ruckman.
He kicked four goals on debut in the Under 19s, but despite finishing second in the team's Best and Fairest, he was farmed out to VFA club Prahran midway through 1986 to learn his craft. He was no longer eligible for the junior grade, and with no spot for him amongst the senior players the theory was that half a year in the VFA Second Division would toughen him up.
After playing 12 games with the Two Blues (where he would finish second in the Best and Fairest) and helping them to a Preliminary Final, Stynes returned in 1987. He debuted early that year as the club's third Irishman behind Paul Earley and Sean Wight.
Dropped after his first senior game, Stynes bounced back to play in the 1987 Night Premiership victory in just his third senior game. When Peter Moore retired halfway through the season he won a permanent ruck role within the team. He impressed in the role and won the Reserves Best and Fairest despite spending much of the year in the seniors, but his season ended with a famous run across the mark in the Preliminary Final which gifted Gary Buckenera a 15m penalty and an easier shot at goal after the siren to win the match.
Stynes was chosen to play in the the Australian International Rules side at the end of the year against a touring Irish team. He toured Ireland with Australia a year later.
Stung by the horrific end to his first season in the big league Stynes threw himself into training and even beat elite Australian athlete Steve Monaghetti in a 7.5km race up a Ballarat mountain during 1988 pre-season training. Monaghetti might not have been running at 100% pace, he even spent time running alongside the pack encouraging them, but it was still a remarkable finish.
In 1989 he was selected for the Victorian state squad but did not play due to a bruised back.
Stynes played a dominant 1991 season, setting a club record for marks in a season and was an easy winner of the Brownlow Medal. It was one of the most amazing stories in the history of our game - the player coming from overseas and not only learning our game but mastering it, especially after his 1987 gaffe.
He played 244 consecutive games of VFL/AFL football, beating the record of 204 set by Richmond's Jack Titus more than fifty years before. The run only ended with a broken hand suffered in Round 4, 1998 against Carlton at Optus Oval. In previous years he had beaten ruptured rib cartilage, a strained medial ligament and many other injuries to keep his streak alive. A few weeks after returning in 1998 he was struck down with injury again, suffering a minor left knee injury during a disappointing loss to St. Kilda.
After helping the Demons to a surprise finals berth in 1998, Stynes announced his retirement on October 3, 1998 at that year's Best and Fairest count. He played his last game of competitive football in the International Rules series of that year. The Demons coaching staff had made it clear that he would play second fiddle to youngster Jeff White in 1999, and Stynes decided to bow out on his own terms.
In 2000 he was named Victorian of the Year by the Herald Sun newspaper in recognition of help the foundation had provided to more than 120,000 people since its formation, and in 2001 was on the selection panel which chose Grant Thomas as St Kilda coach. He also won the official Victorian of the Year award in 2003 and in 2007 he received the medal of the Order of Australia (OAM)
In 2008, with the club in financial trouble, Stynes replaced the resigning Paul Gardner as club president and set about repairing the fractures in the club. Soon after taking office it was announced that Melbourne were in even more financial trouble that had been thought and a Debt Demolition month was announced to try and wipe a sizeable chunk of the debt off. It succeeded in bringing Melbourne back from the brink.
On 2 July 2009, following rumours in the media, Stynes announced that he would take "a break from the club, not permanent leave" as he battled cancer. Vice President, Don McLardy, was nominated to take the chairmanship in his absence. In October of that year Stynes announced that doctors had found a tumour on his brain and that he would be forced to undergo radiation therapy. He returned to the top job but continued to battle the disease, eventually being forced to retire as a director and president in early 2012 as his condition worsened.
Stynes succumbed to his illness soon after, leaving behind an amazing legacy both on and off field. In a rare honour for a sportsman his life was celebrated in a state funeral. The AFL created the Jim Stynes Community Leadership Award in his honour.
|Round 13, 1989||Striking||Not Guilty|
|Round 10, 1993||Striking||Not Guilty|
|Round 18, 1993||Wrestling||Not Guilty|
|Round 2, 1996||Melee||Withdrawn|
"A touch of Blarney at Prahran" - 09/08/1986
The Age - 15/04/1990
Age - 17/05/2012