Stynes to receive state funeral
Jim Stynes will be honoured with a state funeral following his death from cancer at the age of just 45. Stynes died this morning in Australia after a lengthy battle with cancer and the Dubliner’s family have accepted the offer of a state funeral in his adopted home of Melbourne.
Tributes have flooded in for the Melbourne Demons legend, the first non-Australian to be awarded the Australian Football League’s Brownlow Medal. Stynes passed away at home with his wife, Sam, and two young children, Matisse and Tiernan, at his bedside.
"In his final days, Jim was immersed with insurmountable love and tenderness surrounded by his family and some close friends in the comfort of his own home," his wife said in a statement posted on Facebook. "Not surprisingly, in his last week of life Jim continued to defy the odds and lived his life to the fullest.”
An All-Ireland minor medallist with Dublin in 1984, Stynes went on to have the greatest career in the Australian rules of any Irish player.His move to Australia was an obvious loss to Dublin footballers when he was originally scouted by the great Ron Barassi and joined the Demons with whom he forged a remarkable relationship, playing for the club in an AFL record 244 consecutive matches between 1987 and 1998 and winning the Australian game’s Player of the Year accolade, the Brownlow medal in 1991.
Two years later he was inducted into the AFL Hall of Fame and was named in the Melbourne Team of the Century.
Mobile and durable, he played in the engine room of the Australian game as a ruckman and overcame the disappointment as a rookie of committing a technical foul that cost his club the 1987 preliminary final against Hawthorn to become one of the modern game’s most respected players.
After his playing career ended he involved himself in the administration of the Demons, as the club struggled with rising debt and four years ago took over as president and played a key role in eliminating Melbourne’s debt.
His activities off the field also earned Jim Stynes great respect. He established the Reach Foundation in 1994, a project to promote mental health and wellbeing among young people. In 2003 he was honoured by his home state as Victorian of the Year.
There were emotional scenes at the MCG this afternoon as Melbourne Football Club's leadership team paid tribute to Stynes. Mitch Clark, who was recently presented with the number 11 jumper worn by Stynes, broke down and had to be consoled by staff.
Melbourne president Don McLardy said Stynes had chosen youth work over the media opportunities he was offered when his football career ended. "He could have gone into the media and a lot of things that would have seen him remain popular. He chose to go into youth work and assisting youth.
"There’s no glamour or glory in that, and I think that’s what people liked about Jim, he was so normal, very humble, didn’t ever use his position. But he had a real affinity with the community and with people."
GAA president Christy Cooney led the tributes here in Ireland, saying: “He was a hugely respected and admired figure and you only have to take note of the massive outpouring that has accompanied his passing to fully understand the regard he was held in – on both sides of the world.
“He fought his illness the way he played his football, with honesty, integrity and consistency, and on its own his successful transition from our game to AFL footie was a statement about the man. Needless to say his influence spread far beyond the playing arena and his work in the areas of both charity and of course AFL administration, especially with the Melbourne Demons, are to be lauded.
“I offer the deepest sympathies of wider GAA community to his family circle and of course his many friends, and hope his memory and the very public way in which he battled with his illness serves as an inspiration to others."