23 April 1966
Place of birth
20 March 2012 (aged 45)
Place of death
St Kilda, VIC (3182)
Age at first & last AFL game
First game: 20y 353d
Last game: 32y 148d
Height and weight
Height: 199 cm
Weight: 99 kg
Melbourne: 37, 11, 26
State of origin
Brian Stynes (Brother)
|Club||League||Career span||Games||Goals||Avg||Win %||AKI||AHB||AMK||BV|
|IR||1987, 1990, 1998-1999||9||1||0.11||—||—||—||—||—|
When the so called 'Irish Experiment' was conceived at the Melbourne Football Club during the early 1980s no one could possibly have imagined that it would turn out to be quite as spectacularly successful as it did, particularly in the case of one man. That man was Jim Stynes. Born in Dublin in 1966, Stynes moved to Australia 18 years later after impressing Ron Barassi at an Irish-based training camp set up to pinpoint young Gaelic footballers with the potential to develop into elite exponents of the Australian code.
It was immediately obvious that the rangy, powerful, sure-handed Stynes came closer than any of the other 20 or so youngsters to fitting the bill. The fact that he had also played a fair amount of rugby, and was therefore used to dealing with the erratic behaviour of an ovalshaped ball, also helped. However, what no training camp could possibly reveal was the matchless determination and resolve which would elevate Jim Stynes above the level of the merely ordinary footballer into the bona fide champion class.
This determination and resolve was much needed during Stynes' first couple of years in Australia when he failed to develop as quickly as he would have liked, and found himself being farmed out to VFA side Prahran for a time in 1986. It was an enlightening experience. In his debut with Prahran the Two Blues faced Oakleigh, and "It easily was the dirtiest game in which I have been involved, at any level. Punches were thrown, elbows were cocked, and every player seemed to get belted." Significantly though, "I loved every minute of it, even though the vigour was way over the top".¹
In 1987, Stynes returned to Melbourne, beginning a 12-year playing association with the club that included a VFL/AFL record 204 consecutive games, the vast majority of them as a ruckman. Such was the extent of Stynes' adaptability and mobility, however, that he in effect provided the Demons with the benefits of two players in one - a powerful, high leaping ruckman, and an all action 'ball magnet' of a ruck-rover.
The crowning achievement of Stynes' illustrious playing career came in 1991 when he won the Brownlow Medal, but there were numerous other high points. Stynes' four Melbourne fairest and best awards, for example, equalled the record of Alan La Fontaine. The only major disappointment of his career was his failure to play in a Melbourne premiership team, his membership of the club's 1987 and 1989 night premiership sides providing no real consolation.
Stynes took over as president of the club he'd played for in 2008 but in 2009 announced that he had cancer. He staged a very public battle with the illness over the next two and a half years before finally succumbing to it in March, 2012, aged just 45.
Author - John Devaney, with updates by Andrew Gigacz
1. Whatever it Takes by Jim Stynes (with Jim Main), page 96.