This week, our city farewelled Jim Stynes. In a town that lives, breathes and sleeps football, Jimmy represented a different side of this passion, a rare gem in a sea that can sometimes spew forth stupidity.
Of behaviour, of attitude. Of poor word choice and an unawareness of a world outside football.
Apparently, Jim Stynes was beautifully balanced. He loved the game, was loyal, committed and passionate, but he was awake. He cofounded The Reach Foundation and used his sporting platform to raise awareness in others. About people other than sporting heroes or those achieving success kicking around a pigskin.
A few days ago, a person who inspires me to be a better woman pointed out Jim’s eulogy by retired footballer Garry Lyon. I pffted in her face! A eulogy by Garry Lyon? Please!
He (and Jim) are the same era as us, moved in similar social circles at similar times in the 80s and 90s. Garry Lyon was a typical AFL footballer of those years and I (in my imminent, judgemental wisdom) associated this ‘group’ with shallowness. They were racists, homophobic, sleazy, testosterone-fueled morons. They were dumb. Oh, except for rare gems like Jimmy Stynes, the rest of ‘em were losers, drunk tossers, and it was damn lucky that they could kick a footy round the field coz otherwise they’d be nuffin.
After watching this 5-minute eulogy, I’m so sorry I scoffed. If Jim Stynes has just finished the final quarter of his excellent life here, then Garry Lyons is at the 20-minute mark of the premiership quarter. He can take so much learning into the run home.
They say some people live so we may learn. Garry, this eulogy is better than any sporting highlight I’ve ever seen. May we all aspire to live our best lives, knowing that those who have influenced us the most are never forgotten. Your words have woken me up this morning and I stand corrected on my own bigotry.