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AFL star Jim Stynes leaves behind strong lega -

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After a long battle with cancer, Jim Stynes has passed away at the age of 45 but leaves a large
legacy on his sport, his club and the city of Melbourne as well as through his charity work.


CHRIS UHLMANN, PRESENTER: He was a gangly young Irishman who took Australians on at their own game
and became an all-time AFL champion. Today, Jim Stynes died aged just 45 after a long and spirited
fight against cancer. Over the last few years he refused to give in to an illness, and kept up a
busy life that drew respect and affection far beyond the sporting field. Mary Gearin reports.

AFL COMMENTATOR: Helps it back to Stynes. Gentleman Jimmy might have done it again! Yes, he has!

MARY GEARIN, REPORTER: Out of the Petri dish of AFL's so-called "Irish experiment" emerged one of
the most admired characters the Australian sporting world has seen. Jim Stynes was discovered in
Dublin as a rangy 16-year-old playing Gaelic football.

MIKE SHEAHAN, FOOTBALL WRITER: We've just got to remember the background. This kid came out from
Dublin, followed a dream. I saw his early games. I was watching Melbourne games quite regularly
then, and I thought, this bloke's got no hope of making it.

JIM STYNES (1991): I had a bit of stamina at the time; I could run. They thought they would take a
chance, give me two years and see how it went.

MARY GEARIN: He came to Australia at 18, ready to try his hand - and his 199 centimetre frame - at
a new code.

NEALE DANIHER, FORMER MELBOURNE COACH: We all marvelled at the Irishman who kept playing games of
footy week after week after week. He had huge stamina and he used to run ruckman into the ground.

MARY GEARIN: In the making of his character there came a very public turning point. In the 1987
preliminary final, as Hawthorn's Gary Buckenara lined up too far from goal, young Stynes gave away
a critical 15 metre penalty. It handed the Hawks a winning shot and the grand final berth, and it
plunged the Irishman into despair.

JIME STYNES (date unknown): It would be terrible if it happened at the end of your career, because
you'd go out on a sour note whereas I knew that OK, this has got to be the start, I've gotta on
this and I've got to make it.

MARY GEARIN: Stynes didn't just redeem his pride - he earned a lasting place in the code playing a
record 244 consecutive matches. That's 11 years without missing a game.

NEALE DANIHER: Tough as nails, Jim. Mentally as tough as they would come in the sense of being able
to play with injury and put himself out there week after week.

MARY GEARIN: Years later, Stynes would say if it hasn't been for that shattering early error, he
wouldn't have had the attitude that in 1991 earned him AFL's highest individual gong, the only
foreign born player to do so.

EMCEE: So we declare Jim Stynes from the Melbourne Football Club the winner of the 1991 Brownlow

MARY GEARIN: Neale Daniher became Melbourne coach near the end of Stynes' career.

NEALE DANIHER: It was difficult for Jim to retire. He was such a fierce competitor. I saw him, you
know, probably a couple of years after he did retire, and look, he could hardly walk. He just drove
himself into the ground.

MARY GEARIN: With his own young family behind him, Stynes looked beyond the sideline. He became a
motivational speaker and co-founded the Reach Foundation to help instil self-belief in troubled

JIM STYNES (date unknown): It will only ever be stepping stones to greater things, but if it is, if
it becomes stepping stones, isn't that a great thing?

MIKE SHEAHAN: He had this ability to make them believe in themselves and to tell their story, and I
loved that about him. He's a giant of a man. I know we use that term loosely, but his contribution,
on and off field, is almost equal.

MARY GEARIN: For this work, Stynes was awarded Victorian of the Year and Medal of the Order of
Australia. In 2008, he became chairman of his beloved Demons, promising to secure the future of the
struggling club. Then, just over 12 months later, came another press conference - the hardest of
his life, flanked by his wife Samantha.

JIM STYNES (2009): About three weeks ago I found out that I had a small... well I had a lump in my
back, and I thought it might just be located in that one area but it's not. And it's spread quite a
bit, and I have a journey to go on, let's say. I have two young kids, and... particularly for them
I need you to respect our privacy.

MARY GEARIN: In his hands he held the jumper that he wore back on that fateful day in 1987.

JIM STYNES (2009): Sam said to me, "Well now isn't it interesting and ironic that you pull this one
out, because you've got another challenge on your hands."

MARY GEARIN: Jim Stynes was not about to give up. Sneaking out of his early hospital stays to see
his beloved Ds, and staying at the helm of the club until just seven weeks ago.

MIKE SHEAHAN: Jimmy just said, while I'm breathing I've got the fight. If anyone can beat it, I
can. Ultimately it didn't work, but he probably got two more years out of his life than, I think,
the medical fraternity thought he would. This fight he had, this indomitable spirit, is something
we'll remember forever.

JIM STYNES (date unknown): When you realise what people can go through and yet still succeed at,
despite those adversities and obstacles, I think it's quite amazing, and they're the real heroes.
They're heroes, not... just because you play 250 games doesn't mean you're a hero.