Posted by: jkirkby8712 | March 27, 2012

Tuesday, 27th March 2012 – the Irish immigrant who crossed the world to play Aussie Rules football!!

It’s been a quiet day at home, a large part of which was spent out in the back garden.  I thought I might have a brief look at some of the news headlines in today’s Australian newspaper.

  • AUSTRALIA’S Cocos Islands  territory could be used as a staging point for spy flights by US military drones over the South China Sea.
  • THE number of asylum-seekers coming to Australia has fallen, despite a global surge in displaced persons seeking safe haven.
  • TASMANIA has been logging forests faster than they can regrow and faces both the collapse of its timber industry and the destruction of world heritage forests.
  • DEEP depression has taken hold of federal Labor, with a new Newspoll suggesting it faces the loss of up to 37 seats at the next election.
  • Campbell Newman has criticised his predecessor, Anna Bligh, for quitting her seat after Labor’s weekend election loss.
  • POLLSTER Gary Morgan has escaped conviction after pleading guilty to failing to file tax returns on his superannuation account.
  • USING social media during natural disasters is comforting, empowering and can limit psychological damage, a study has found.
  • AN Australian aid worker has been injured in an apparent suicide attack in Afghanistan.
  • ACTOR Matthew Newton’s mental illness was “at its worst” during an alleged attack on a taxi driver, a Sydney court has heard.
  • POLLSTER Gary Morgan has escaped conviction after pleading guilty to failing to file tax returns on his superannuation account.
  • USING social media during natural disasters is comforting, empowering and can limit psychological damage, a study has found.
  • AN Australian aid worker has been injured in an apparent suicide attack in Afghanistan.


Meanwhile, today in the centre of Melbourne, a State Funeral was held – for a footballer!!  To Jim Styne’s, the offer was made by the government and accepted. Interesting, in view of the fact that a similar offer was made in respect to the death last week of the wife of former Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam.  However, there can be no doubt that the decision in Styne’s case was a popular one,  and worthy of recognition in such a case.  The following is the report on that occasion today, and while it is quite lengthy, the sport of Australian football  has also been a significant aspect of life in Melbourne for a large portion of the population [whether others like that fact or not], and as a result, the death of one of the state’s most popular sporting personalities is likely to be treated almost in the same vein as royalty. The report came from newspaper reports late this afternoon.

‘Jim Stynes’ best friend and former Melbourne AFL teammate Garry Lyon has told a packed crowd at his funeral there has never been anyone like the Irishman who inspired countless people on the football field and beyond.  Stynes, who died last week from cancer aged 45, was sent off at a state funeral in Melbourne’s St Paul’s Cathedral today. Lyon told several light-hearted anecdotes in his eulogy at Stynes’ expense, before turning serious. “The truth is that finding fault in anything he did was a fruitless exercise,” said Lyon. “I sat down and wrote a list of things that best described him as a footballer. “Consistent, reliable, dependable, trustworthy, honest, strong, durable, courageous, caring, resilient. “They are wonderful qualities to possess in a footballer – they’re even more significant qualities to possess as a man. “What I find most amazing of all is that of all the kids from around the world we could have attracted to the game when Melbourne took the audacious step of looking beyond our shores in the albeit unlikely hope of unearthing a footballer, we found him – Jim Stynes. “And as result we may now never question the boundaries of what one man is capable of achieving on the playing field but also never question the ability of the same man to have that same impact away from it. “There never has been anyone like Jim Stynes and there never will be, which is why we loved him and we miss him so much today.”

Stynes came from Ireland as a Gaelic footballer in 1984 to Melbourne to try Australian Rules and ended up one of the game’s greats. A memorial service overnight in Stynes hometown of Ballyroan, Dublin, was attended by about 1000 people, the Herald Sun reported. Jim’s uncle, Kevin Stynes, told those gathered that his family were experiencing “the saddest and worst days of our lives”. “Never in a million years could I have foreseen this tragedy, it is not supposed to happen that your eldest son passes before the parents,” he lamented. “Why did God have to take him so young when there was so much more he wanted to achieve and could have achieved for humanity?” Paying tribute to his far-flung nephew he said despite Jim’s successes he had always kept his head and was always looking out for others, even during illness. “Despite his fame he never lost sight of reality and was humble to the end,” he said.

He won the 1991 Brownlow medal, four Melbourne best and fairest awards and was twice named in the All-Australian team. As well as being named in Melbourne’s team of the century, he saved the ailing club when he took over its presidency in 2008. He also co-founded the Reach Foundation charity. Brian Stynes remembered his older brother as a man who was generous, loving and caring. “He leaves a six foot seven gap in our lives that will always be empty,” he said. “… I tried following in his footsteps but they were always too big. “Brian Stynes recalled how devastated his close-knit family was when Jim first left Dublin in the mid 1980s to try his luck at Australian Rules football. The weekly highlight for all family members was when Jim phoned home. Brian Stynes eventually followed Jim to Australia, playing two senior games for the Demons in 1992 before returning to Ireland to resume his Gaelic football career. Film director Paul Currie, who co-founded the Reach Foundation charity with Stynes, called him “a warrior poet who was ahead of his time”. In addition to the crowd packed inside the cathedral, thousands of others followed the funeral on the big screen across the road at Federation Square, many decked out in the blue and red colours of the Demons. Roads around Flinders and Swanston streets were closed for one of the biggest funerals Melbourne has seen. Melbourne AFL players arrived at the cathedral together wearing the club blazers that Stynes had presented to them only days before he died. They were to form a guard of honour as the coffin was carried from the cathedral at the end of the service. Community leaders were among those farewelling Stynes, including Olympian and former Victorian governor John Landy, Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu, federal Deputy Opposition Leader Julie Bishop, federal Labor minister Simon Crean and AFL heavyweights. A private wake was to be held for family and friends in the Jim Stynes room at the MCG.  Melbourne’s iconic Young and Jacksons Hotel, which is opposite the cathedral, laid on “a few extra barrels” for after the funeral, according to staff. Stynes will be cremated and his ashes spread in Ireland.



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