Former Melbourne Football Club champion ruckman, the late Jim Stynes, has been chosen as the next athlete to be immortalised with a bronze statue outside the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) as the latest addition to the Australia Post Avenue of Legends.
The Irishman, who passed away in 2012, made an indelible mark on Australian football.
Arriving from Ireland aged 18 as a promising Gaelic footballer, the tall and skinny Stynes joined the Melbourne Football Club’s (MFC) ambitious international recruitment program in 1984 (now known as the “Irish experiment”) having never played the game before.
During the 264-game career with Melbourne that followed, Stynes played 244 consecutive games from 1987-98, an amazing record that still stands today.
In 1991, he became the only non-Australian-born VFL/AFL player to claim the prestigious Brownlow medal. He won four MFC best and fairest awards, twice earned All-Australian selection and was credited with redefining the role of the modern-day ruckman.
In 2000, Stynes was named in MFC’s Team of the Century and he was inducted into the Australian Football Hall of Fame in 2003.
“It is fitting that 30 years after the Gaelic footballer was recruited from Dublin, we announce Jim Stynes’ induction into the Australia Post Avenue of Legends series,” said MCC president Paul Sheahan.
“A true gentleman of the game, Stynes is an exceptional individual whose achievements as a non-Australian born player remain unmatched. There is no doubt that he is one of the most extraordinary and inspiring figures in the history of Australian sport.”
Australia Post Managing Director and CEO, Ahmed Fahour said: “We’re delighted that Jim Stynes has been chosen to feature on the Australia Post Avenue of Legends. He was not only a great AFL champion, he was also an inspiration to many underprivileged and troubled youths during his career and later through the Reach Foundation.”
Stynes is the fifth sportsperson, after cricket legends Shane Warne and Neil Harvey, and football greats Norm Smith and John Coleman, to feature in the Australia Post Avenue of Legends.
About Jim Stynes
The story of Jim Stynes (April 23, 1966 – March 20, 2012) is unique and inspiring. In addition to his remarkable football career, Stynes focused on youth work and launched the Reach Foundation in 1994 which sought to teach life skills and help kids to realise new opportunities.
Stynes was named Victorian of the Year in 2001 and 2003, and awarded the Medal of Order of Australia in 2007.
Stynes also served as president of the MFC from 2008 and was a driving force behind the re-establishment of a close relationship between the MFC and MCC which, in 2009, led to the football club returning as an MCC Sporting Section after almost 30 years’ absence.
In March 2012, Stynes passed away after a long and brave battle with cancer.
About Australia Post Avenue of Legends
The Australia Post Avenue of Legends will see a minimum of five statues placed in Yarra Park, extending from the MCC members entrance up an avenue towards Wellington Parade.
Selection criteria for the Australia Post Avenue of Legends dictates candidates must be Australian, renowned for their sportsmanship and that they or their sport played is connected with the MCG.
About the sculptor
Lis Johnson has been a full-time professional sculptor since 1992. Primarily a modeler and carver, Lis works with a wide range of contemporary and traditional media.
Bronze memorials, especially figurative statues have become her specialty. She has exhibited in numerous group, solo and selected exhibitions, and has been awarded many public and private sculpture commissions.
Lis sculpted the statues of Norm Smith, John Coleman and Neil Harvey – the second, third and fourth to feature in the Australia Post Avenue of Legends.
Statues at the Melbourne Cricket Ground
Australia Post Avenue of Legends (2011-2014)
• Shane Warne (Cricket)
• Norm Smith (Australian Football)
• John Coleman (Australian Football)
• Neil Harvey (Cricket)
• Jim Stynes* (Australian Football)
*To be unveiled in 2014 on a date to be fixed.
Tattersall’s Parade of Champions (2003-2006)
• Sir Donald Bradman, Keith Miller, Bill Ponsford, Dennis Lillee
• Ron Barassi, Leigh Matthews, Dick Reynolds, Haydn Bunton
• Shirley Strickland, Betty Cuthbert.