In late 1984, the two Dubliners Jimmy Fahy and the late Jim Stynes joined the Melbourne Football Club. The pair, pictured here outside the MCG not long after their arrival, had been identified as future talents by Ron Barassi and Barry Richardson, in an international experiment funded by Rupert Murdoch.
Stynes’ storied career at Melbourne has been well-documented. Jimmy’s less so. Suffice to say that the grand old flag’s loss was definitely the Old Paradians’ gain as Jimmy made his name both on and off the paddock.
At the OPs, Jimmy’s straight-ahead no-nonsense approach generally stood him in good stead, though a two-match ban for flying the flag against Parkside cruelly cost him his place in the OPs’ reserve grade Premiership team of ‘86 - the year the firsts and Under 19s also landed the silverware.
Above all, Jimmy was a ripping clubman as those who frequented the annual talent nights will attest. He used to delight in rounding out each night’s program with his own unique rendition of the unofficial national anthem “Molly Malone” and lead the crowd in their collective response (“alive, alive oh”).
Having returned to the land of the Blarney almost 30 years ago, Jimmy paid the Garvey a welcome visit at the weekend, as part of a ten-day Melbourne sojourn. There to greet him were old teammates of great days past and tales tall and true were liberally shared.
Jimmy took brief time out to visit the nearby Brothers’ cemetery where he spent a moment by the grave of Fr. Gerry Briglia, a great mentor to him.
On his return to the Frank Mount Social Room, Jimmy was duly presented with the Shags’ Rag jacket - a green number with purple trim traditionally awarded to the best player afield through the 1980s by the editor of the peppery footy club publication of the same name.
The jacket is now with its wearer on a flight back to Ireland.
Late on Saturday evening, and with little prompting for old time’s sake, Jimmy belted out the famous Dublin ditty with a little help from old teammates John Atta and Peter Caddy – not long after the seniors had made it a record 13 from 13 on the vast expanses of the Garvey Oval where Jimmy once chased the leather for the Old Paradians.
Jimmy’s sister Helen Jowett, a former club strapper/trainer who was also in the house at the weekend, said of the occasion: “What a wonderful turnout for my brother James (“Jimmy”) at his spiritual home of footy”.
“The Old Paradians took him under their wing when things didn’t work out at Melbourne in the ’80s,” Helen said, “and in my brother’s own words the Old Paradians were the best thing to ever happen to him in Australia”.