Melbourne great Jim Stynes will take his place in Australian sport’s Pantheon of champions, to be cast in bronze outside the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
The Melbourne Cricket Club has announced Stynes as the latest addition to the “Avenue of Legends” outside the MCG to stand alongside 14 other Australian greats.
Stynes becomes the first overseas-born inductee, completing a most unlikely journey after arriving in Australia from Ireland as a skinny 18-year-old gaelic footballer.
Stynes’ AFL playing career included a Brownlow medal from his 264 games and a league record 244 consecutive game streak from 1987-98.
After his playing days ended, he continued to give back to his beloved Demons, serving as president of the club during a successful debt elimination campaign.
MCC President Paul Sheahan said Stynes’ achievements as a non-Australian born player were unmatched.
“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,” Sheahan said.
“A true gentleman of the game, there is no doubt that he is one of the most extraordinary and inspiring figures in the history of Australian sport.”
The decision to nominate Stynes comes after Richmond backed a campaign to have Kevin Bartlett selected as the next bronzed hero.
However, statues selector chairman David Crow said it was impossible to look past Stynes’ candidacy.
“He was an exceptional character … just magnetic,” Crow said.
“(Kevin) is one of the candidates we’re looking at but Jim was too hard to look past.”
Stynes – already an AFL Hall of Famer, a member of Melbourne’s Team of the Century, twice Victorian of the Year and, most recently, Melburnian of the Year – is remembered fondly by the AFL community after succumbing to a long battle with cancer in 2012.
The bronze statues have become one of the most revered clubs in Australian sport, as an attraction in their own right and a rallying point for sporting fans.