Our History

Our History

The story of Jim Stynes football career on its own is remarkable. However, Jim was so much greater than his achievements and accolades garnered from his time spent with the Melbourne Football Club.

One of Jim’s most important legacies came in 1994, when alongside his friend and film director Paul Currie, he established The Reach Foundation.

The purpose of Reach was simple - inspire young people to believe in themselves and get more out of life.

On March 20th 2012, we farewelled the beloved Jim Stynes after his three-year battle with cancer. In 2015 the Jim Stynes Foundation was created to continue developing programs and initiatives that embody resilience, prioritizes mental health and shapes our future.

In partnership with the Melbourne Football Club since 2023, the Foundation strives to have impact in three core areas: youth leadership, youth mental health and youth programs for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander communities.

Jim’s Life

1966: James Peter Stynes is born in Dublin, Ireland on 23 April

1984: Known as the ‘Irish Experiment,’ Jim Stynes lands in Melbourne, Victoria on 7 November as the newest recruit of the Melbourne Football Club. He has never played a game of AFL.

1987: Jim makes his debut for the Melbourne Football Club on 25 July, playing against Geelong at Waverly Park.

1987 Jim Stynes

1988: Jim completes his Bachelor of Education from Deakin University.

1991: After just 7 years in the game, Jim wins the league’s highest honour, and becomes just the fifth Melbourne Football Club player to win a Brownlow Medal. He remains the only non-Australian born person to have received the award.

1991 Jim Stynes

1994: Alongside film director and friend, Paul Currie, Jim establishes The Reach Foundation with the vision of inspiring young people to believe in themselves and get more out of life.

1994 Jim Stynes

1998: After 264 games in the red and blue, including a remarkable streak of 244 consecutive games, Jim retires from his career as a professional footballer.

1998 Jim Stynes

2000: Jim Stynes is named in Melbourne Football Club’s ‘Team of the Century,’ one of the highest honours afforded by the Club. He is also awarded the Australian Sports medal by the Governor-General, for people who have contributed to the nation’s sporting success. On November 4, he marries his girlfriend of three years, Samantha Ludbey.

2001: Jim is awarded the Centenary Medal for the establishment of The Reach Foundation and its contributions to youth development. On 2 September, his daughter Matisse Stynes is born.

2003: Jim is inducted into the AFL Hall of Fame, awarded Victorian of the Year and is a finalist for Australian of the Year.

2003 Jim Stynes

2005: On 13 March, his son Tiernan Stynes is born.

2007: Jim is awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for his work with The Reach Foundation and contributions to the game of AFL

2008: Jim becomes the Chairman of the club he had already contributed so much to, the Melbourne Football Club.

2008 Jim Stynes 1165

2009: Jim is diagnosed with cancer and is given a nine-month life expectancy. He continues his work with both Reach and Melbourne Football Club.

2009 Jim Stynes

2012: Following a three-year battle with cancer, Jim passes away peacefully and surrounded by family on 20 March. He was 45 years old.

2012 Jim Stynes

His legacy continues to live on in wife Samantha, children Matisse and Tiernan, in the Melbourne Football Club and The Reach Foundation communities, and through the work of the Jim Stynes Foundation.