JIM STYNES WILL be honoured with a state funeral in his adopted home of Victoria following his death from cancer at age of 45.
The Dublin-born Aussie Rules legend passed away in the early hours of Tuesday morning following a long and public battle against the disease, which he was diagnosed with in 2009.
Stynes moved to the Melbourne Demons in 1984 as one of the pioneers of the AFL’s “Irish Experiment” to recruit GAA talent. In 1991, he became the only overseas-born player to win the prestigious Brownlow Medal, awarded to the “fairest and best” player in the league, and continued to devote himself to the game and charity work following his retirement in 1998.
As tributes from across the international community flooded in following the news of Stynes’ death, Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu announced that there will be a state funeral for the man who was named “Victorian of the Year” on three separate occasions.
“There’s a certain deep sadness right across Victoria, Australia and other parts of the world today,” Baillieu said. The passing of Jim Stynes is really a moment in this state’s history which I think everybody will be very moved by.
Jim Stynes was, in many respects, the classic Victorian – a young man who came here from overseas with ambition and aspirations. He charmed everybody he met, he worked his butt off, succeeded, embraced the values and culture of our state and our nation and in the process, I think, won the hearts of every Australian and every Victorian and certainly every sports lover.
I’m only too proud to be able to have this moment to say, on behalf of all Victorians, “Jim Stynes, we thank you for everything you’ve done for this state. Thank you for what you’ve done for the game of football and sport in general and thank you for reaching out.”
“Proud to be Irish”
Demons’ co-captain Jack Trengrove was among the AFL players to add their condolences, describing the impact which Stynes had on him and his fellow team-mates. Stynes became club president in 2008, not long before he was diagnosed with cancer, but insisted that continue on in the role despite his illness and only officially resigned the post last month.
“You just assume [because of] how much of a fighter he is that he would be around so you never thought this day would ever come,” said Trengove. ”He had an impact on so many people and me personally being able to speak to him and learn off him and realise how much of an impact he has had.”
Laois native Zach Tuohy, who currently plays in the AFL with Carlton, tweeted that “Jim Stynes doesn’t just make me proud to be part of this sport and country. [He] makes me, as he should make every Irish person, proud to be Irish!”
Australian cricket legend Shane Warne and Lance Armstrong, seven-time Tour de France winner and cancer survivor, led the tributes from the international sporting community to the former Ballyboden clubman.
“Very sad news with confirmation that Jim Stynes has passed away,” Warne tweeted. “Condolences to all the Stynes family & friends, he was an inspiring man!”
Armstrong said: “RIP Jim Stynes. We’ll miss you mate.”
Ireland’s Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Alan Shatter, described the decision to honour Stynes with a state funeral as a “fitting tribute”. Shatter is currently in Australia as part of the programme of St Patrick’s Day celebrations.
“I was deeply saddened to learn of the tragic and untimely passing earlier today of Jim Stynes.”
“Through his immense sporting achievements in the AFL and as a Brownlow Medalist,and subsequently through his work with young people with the Reach organisation, Jim touched the lives of many people.
The decision of the Australian authorities to honour Jim with a State Funeral is an indication of the high esteem in which he was rightly held and a fitting tribute to man who devoted his life to the wellbeing of others.
His death is a great loss which will be deeply felt by his many friends and admirers in Ireland and in Australia, but most of all by his wife and family to whom I express my deepest condolences.
Stynes is survived by his wife Samantha and his children Matisse and Tiernan, as well as his extended family in Australia and Ireland. A date for his funeral has not been announced.