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'Big shoes to fill': Jim Stynes steps down as Melbourne president

The Dubliner stepped down as president of the Melbourne Demons last night as he continues his battle against cancer.

Stynes, pictured at last year's International Rules Series first test between Australia and Ireland.
Stynes, pictured at last year's International Rules Series first test between Australia and Ireland.
Image: ©INPHO/James Crombie

THE MELBOURNE DEMONS paid an emotional tribute to Aussie Rules legend Jim Stynes, who last night announced his decision to step down as club president to focus on his battle against cancer.

Stynes, 45, was not present at the club’s AGM where members responded to the news of his resignation by giving him a standing ovation.

The Dublin-born footballer was appointed Demons president in June 2008 and immediately spearheaded a campaign to wipe out the club’s debt. After he was diagnosed with cancer in July 2009, Stynes insisted that he stay on in the role, although he took a short break to begin treatment.

Since then, the Ballyboden native has undergone six operations to tackle a life-threatening brain tumour. Recent improvements in his condition surprised doctors who told him before Christmas that he may only have a matter of weeks to live.

In a statement read at last night’s AGM, Stynes said that he was proud of what the Demons had achieved during his presidency.

“As Melbourne enters what promises to be an exciting new season and an exciting new era I see this as an opportune time to step down as Melbourne president.

“It will give the football club the best chance to be 100 per cent prepared for round one and it will give me the time to fully focus on my health and my family.

“I am very proud of what the board has been able to achieve since I took on the presidency in June 2008, particularly bringing a greater sense of unity and purpose to our football club.”

Demons vice-president Don McLardy, who now takes over as president, said that Stynes’ were “big shoes to fill, but you can’t fill them.”

I came into this with Jim, and had a dream that we’d win a premiership and Jim would be the President and I’d be lucky enough to be around him.

That’s changed obviously, but I still hope the fairytale comes true.

Stynes moved to Australia in 1984 and became the first and only Irishman to win the AFL’s prestigious Brownlow Medal.

In December, the Melbourne Herald Sun crowned him as their Victorian of the Year for 2011, paying tribute to the courageous manner in which he has battled his illness.

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