DOB: 23 April 1966
Died: 20 March 2012
From: Ballyboden St Enda's/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
Discovered as part of the The Irish Experiment, Stynes arrived at Melbourne in late-1984, a time the club enjoyed a surplus of ruckmen, and Peter Moore had just won the Brownlow Medal. He was considered a long-term project, and in his first intra-club practice games, Stynes would be shadowed by Peter Keenan, who acted as his on-field coach, explaining rules and ruck tactics.
Stynes kicked four goals on debut in the Under 19s and finished second in their Best and Fairest, but no longer eligible to play in the junior grade and not yet ready for the Reserves, he was farmed out to VFA club Prahran midway through 1986. The 12 game stint with the Two Blues gave him valuable senior experience, and he was an instant success, finishing runner-up in their Best and Fairest and playing in a Preliminary Final. Stynes returned to Melbourne in 1987 and debuted early in the season, the third Irishman to play for the Demons, after Paul Earley and Sean Wight.
Dropped after his first senior game, Stynes bounced back to play in the 1987 Night Premiership victory. The mid-season retirement of Peter Moore allowed him to establish himself in the senior side, and he held his spot through the end of the year. His season ended in one of the most famous blunders in footy history, running across the mark in the Preliminary Final, and gifting Gary Buckenera the 15m penalty that allowed him to win the match after the siren. That year he also won the Reserves best and fairest, despite spending much of the year in the senior side.
At the end of 1987 Stynes was chosen for Australia's International Rules side, playing 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 an impressive result.
In 1989 he was selected for the Victorian state squad but did not play due to a bruised back.
Stynes was dominant in 1991, setting a club record for marks in a season and easily winning the Brownlow Medal. It capped off a remarkable rise for a player who not only learnt the Australian game, but also had to recover from his Preliminary Final gaffe. Shortly before the start of the 1992 season he signed a three year contract extension.
He played 244 consecutive games of VFL/AFL football, beating the record of 204 set by Richmond's Jack Titus more than fifty years earlier. The run only ended with a broken hand suffered in Round 4, 1998. In previous years Stynes beat 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.
After helping the Demons to a surprise finals berth in 1998, Stynes announced his retirement at that year's Best and Fairest count. Melbourne's coaching staff 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. He played his last game of competitive football in the end of season International Rules series. After his retirement Stynes was ruck coach at the Demons from 2000 until the end of 2002, and continued his work with the Reach Youth Foundation he had formed in 1994. In 2003 he was named Victorian of the Year for his work with Reach, and received the Order of Australia medal in 2007.
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 revealed that the club was in even more financial trouble than had been thought. A 'Debt Demolition' month wiped a sizeable chunk of Melbourne's debts, succeeding in bringing them back from the brink.
On 2 July 2009, Stynes announced that he would take a break to battle 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 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|
Age - 09/08/1986
Age - 15/04/1990
Age - 12/02/1992
Age - 17/05/2012