JOONDALUP’S WA Football League club will be forever grateful to Jim Stynes for the way he treated one of its legends.
West Perth president Brett Raponi said Stynes – he will be remembered in a State funeral today – was president of Melbourne when Stan “Pops” Heal was welcomed back in 2010 to the club he won a premiership with in 1941.
The champion wingman and wartime sailor joined the Demons’ 1941 flag-winning side when he was in Victoria for a navy course.
He played eight games with the Dees, including the grand final win over Essendon, before returning to Perth and playing in the then Cardinals’ premiership side.
He was inducted into the AFL Hall of Fame in mid-2010 before he was later that year celebrated by Melbourne at a function to launch a new club emblem.
Heal’s story of playing in two grand finals in two states within two weeks, and serving his country while friends and fellow footballers died in the war, was identified as one of a handful of the great stories of Melbourne, along with that of Stynes.
Melbourne president Cameron Schwab remembered talking about Heal to a sick Stynes ahead of the Hall of Fame and club functions.
“When Jim understood the story, he was deeply respectful of it and showed great respect to Pops,” Schwab said.
“These are two fellows etched in the folklore of the game and in the folklore of our footy club.”
Raponi said Melbourne had flown Heal over for the club function to honour him and others, including Stynes and the great Ron Barassi and his father – killed in Tobruk.
“This was a great honour for Pops and he was quite taken aback that they still remembered and thought of him at Melbourne,” Raponi said.
“I credit Jim Stynes and Melbourne with the acknowledgement of including Pops at that stage of his life (Heal died in December 2010). It was an honour I know he regarded very highly.
“Jim rebuilt that football club and he did it by being inclusive and respectful to the great deeds of Melbourne Football Club’s past.”