Celebrating Melbourne's sporting mecca - the MCG

Football seems to be coming into fashion in Melbourne, and as it is a most manly and amusing game we hope that it may continue to grow in favour until it becomes as popular as cricket.’– The Argus, 16 August 1858

5 fast facts about the MCG

  1. The MCG is the oldest sporting club in Australia.
  2. England and Australia played the first game of Test cricket in 1877. The location? The MCG of course!
  3. The MCG has been a part of Olympic history as it was the main stadium for the 1956 Olympic Games. More recently the Commonwealth Games opening and closing ceremonies were held here in 2006.
  4. Not just used for sporting events - Sir Elton John, Billy Joel, David Bowie, U2 and Madonna have all performed here. The first concert held at the MCG? It was 1974 and the singer was pop star David Cassidy.
  5. The first One Day international cricket match was held here in 1971. 

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Author and Melbourne local Jenny Sinclair shares her thoughts on the beloved MCG. 

It’s beyond a joke in Melbourne to say that the MCG is our spiritual home – if football is some people’s greatest passion, maybe it’s true.

Every year on Grand Final day, a deep-throated roar of pure tribalism goes up at the bounce of the ball. The stadium holds 100,000 people when full, as it always is that day. Most of the stands have been rebuilt in the past thirty years, and the turf is regularly relaid: so like an axe with a new head and shaft, it’s not the same place as it was. But this arena beside the river is the source of a special, shared sound: the roar that goes up and spreads across the nearby suburbs, and, through radio and television broadcasts, much of the town and the nation is linked by one deep, vibrating growl.

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The site of the MCG was a Woiworung (Kulin clan) camping ground in 1844; whether they also played Marngrook, the indigenous ball game that may have contributed to Australian Rules Football, is not recorded. With successive waves of development, the Kulin were pushed out further and further from the settlement; when they were pushed off the MCG it became a playing field.

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Don’t miss the behind the scenes MCG tour and the National Sports Museum.

Interested in the history of Australian sport and the Melbourne Cricket Ground? The backstage MCG Tour allows you an all access pass to the inner sanctum players' changing rooms, cricket viewing room and indoor practice facilities, media centre, MCC Library, the famous Long Room and even walk on the arena (subject to availability).

Highlights of the National Sports Museum are the Australian Cricket Hall of Fame, the Backyard to Baggy Green Exhibition (don't miss the Shane Warne 3D holgram) and an amazing display of sporting memorabilia covering tennis, cycling, tennis, netball, rugby union, rugby league and the Paralympic Games. 

Allow one hour for this guided tour which depart regularly from Gate 3 on all non-event days from 10am-3pm, except Christmas Day, Melbourne Cup Day and Good Friday. While you are there visit the National Sports Museum also at the Melbourne Cricket Grounds which holds 2500 sporting treasures from  Australia's rich sporting history. 

Tickets: Adult prices for visiting both the National Sporting Museum and the MCG tour is $30, concession $24 

This is a edited book extract from Much Ado About Melbourne Jenny Sinclair (RRP $35)

Much Ado About Melbourne

Much Ado About Melbourne by Jenny Sinclair, (RRP $35) celebrates the tales, spirit and sensibilities that make this metropolis, it charts the evolution of Melbourne through its music, art, literature, film, stories, transport, maps and people.

What are your memories of the MCG? Is it on your bucket list? Join the conversation below…