Contributed by: Michael Christiansen
A legend on the field.
An inspiration off it.
The following is a media release from the Melbourne Football Club's President Don McLardy.
It is with deep sadness that I have to announce the passing of our great club champion and immediate Past President Jim Stynes after a courageous battle against cancer.
If there is a positive to be found from the last 3 years, it is that we have already had an opportunity to tell Jim in person what an impact he has made on our football club, and indeed our country.
There are few places in Australia that have not heard or been touched by the legend of Jim Stynes - the affable Irishman who left his homeland to chase a dream, and succeeded beyond anyone's expectations.
In the next few weeks, you will hear from many who will tell you about his magnificent playing record, and why Kevin Sheedy says he is the greatest story in the history of the AFL.
You will also hear from many whose lives have been changed by Jim, mainly through contact with his incredible youth organisation Reach . Not just great achievers such as Jules Lund, Trisha Silvers and the like, but hundreds of young kids who openly say Jim Stynes “changed my life”. Can there be a greater accolade than that?
I have been fortunate to be Jim's friend for many years, but became really close in the past few years as we worked together to try and rebuild our common passion - the Melbourne Football Club. His infectious personality - I call him the pied piper - saw me also get more heavily involved with Reach. So perhaps more than most I was able to see Jim close up.
Jim was a normal bloke - sometimes grumpy, sometimes quirky but always able to laugh at himself. But what an extraordinary talent. To see Jim work with young, troubled teenagers was inspiring. He not only showed those young people a way forward, he trained many of them to be inspiring leaders themselves.
When it came to our football club, Jim was equally as inspirational. He was able to gather our people together and harness their spirit in a time when many had lost enthusiasm. The first Foundation Heroes dinner - which raised $2 million in one night - was a Jim Stynes masterstroke that many thought was not possible. In two years, he rebuilt the base of our football club with his all inclusive style and virtually ensured our future would be secure.
His impact in so many areas has been profound, and I am sure the next few weeks will reinforce that. Perhaps this story best encapsulates Jim Stynes for me. He once told me that having cancer was a privilege. He said he had worked with many young people who had been in life threatening situations, and he never really knew how they felt. He believed having cancer would help him understand what those young people were experiencing, and make him a much better person to help them. Cancer a privilege – it takes a special person to consider that.
On behalf of everyone at Melbourne Football club, our deepest sympathies go to Jim’s equally courageous wife Sam and their two young children, Matisse and Tiernan.
AFL consecutive games record holder, Brownlow Medallist, Youth Leader, Victorian of the Year, OAM, MFC President – and arrived from Ireland when he was 18. Many people have contributed to our football club over its 150 year history, few leave an indelible mark. Jim Stynes will.
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