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Kim Densham reporting for AFANA, in Melbourne.

As an eighteen year old, Dubliner, Jim Stynes arrived in Australia to play AFL footy for the first time. He was a Gaelic footballer with the Ballyboden Club, and answered a 1984 Irish newspaper advertisement, looking for 'talented Gaelic footballers’; he subsequently joined the Melbourne FC. After receiving a crash course in Australian Rules, Stynes had the talent to adapt his Gaelic rules pedigree to the local game, so much so that, 5 years after his senior debut, he won the games’ highest individual honor, the 1991 Brownlow Medal, named after Chas Brownlow, (Chas Brownlow played with the Geelong Football Club in the VFA, from 1880 to 1891 and was a highly regarded administrator, until a year before he died in 1923 – The medal is awarded by the umpires for the player they adjudge to be the ‘best and fairest’ throughout the season).

Stynes also holds the current record for the most consecutive AFL/VFL games played - 244, his total games tally for the Demons was 264. He retired in 1998, with a long list of honors that include, both the Brownlow Medal and AFL Players Association MVP Award (now the Leigh Matthews Trophy) in 1991, four Club ‘Best and Fairest’ awards with Melbourne FC, All-Australian honors in 1991 and 1993 and in 2003 he was inducted into the AFL Hall of Fame. He is also the recent recipient of an AOM – The Order of Australia medal.

Following retirement, Jim worked as the anti-racism officer at the AFL, appalled at the on field abuse dished out to him and other non Australian players.  He has a medal named after him- The Jim Stynes Medal- which is awarded to the best Australian player in the 'International Rules' series - a hybrid Australian - Gaelic rules game- played between Australia and Ireland. In this series Jim regularly competed against Brian, his younger brother

Stynes also went onto start the Reach Foundation, a program aimed at helping street kids and disadvantaged youth cope with depression and suicide. He also sits on the Federal Minister For Youth’s, Youth Advisory Consultative Forum Committee. Over the years Jim has become a renowned youth worker and was named 2003 Victorian of the year.

His love affair with the game, that started decades ago,  when he spotted that innocuous advertisement, calling for people with talent, has now come full circle. When Jim Stynes formally became Chairman,  after Paul Gardner resigned at Thursday nights, Melbourne's  Board meeting. Little did the Demon's know what talent they would get when they placed that ad? – An Irish import embarking on a mission to save the world’s oldest football club from extinction.

Luck O’ the Irish ta yer Jimmy!

Article last changed on Wednesday, June 18, 2008 - 2:32 PM EDT


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