MCG is the largest stadium in Australia and the 10th largest in the world. MCG has hosted major international events like 1956 Summer Olympics, the 2006 Commonwealth Games and two Cricket World Cups: 1992 and 2015. MCG is home to National Sports Museum, a museum dedicated to Australian Sports. The total capacity of MCG today is 100,024. The record attendance at MCG stands at around 130,000 for a Billy Graham evangelistic crusade in 1959. MCG hosts Rugby, Soccer and Football matches regularly. In its early days it even hosted Tennis matches and Bicycle racing. MCG is also popular for hosting music concerts and other public events.
History of Melbourne Cricket Ground
Melbourne Cricket Club was established on 15th November 1838. Five cricket lovers met and agreed to form a cricket club each paying a subscription of one Guinea at the site of Royal Mint. F.Armond Powlett, Robert Russel, George Smyth, A. Mundy and C.F Mundy were those five men. The Club had its first playing area at a ground near Batman’s Hill (current site of Spencer Street Station).
F.A.Powlett was the crown land commissioner of the Western Division of Port Phillip settlement. Arthur Mundy and C.F Mundy were employed at the Melbourne Insurance company. George Smyth was the Captain of the Mounted Police and Robert Russel was a surveyor.
In 1841, F.A. Powlett elected the President of the club and the club published the laws of Cricket. After playing at Batman Hill for around 8 years, a ground was secured across Yarra (between the river and present-day South Melbourne) for the Club. It was in 1841, the club used the name “Melbourne Cricket Club” for the first time.
In 1849 the ground was flooded and the club started looking for a more appropriate ground and found nine acres of land in Richmond Park for the purpose in 1853. Permissive occupancy of the present site of the MCG for five years in the ‘Police Paddock’ was granted to the Melbourne Cricket Club by Lt-Governor CJ La Trobe on 23rd September 1853. Erection of buildings were sanctioned if that is an absolute necessity. By 1854, the ground was levelled and first members pavilion was built. The first match in MCG was played between the members on 30th September 1854. Victoria’s gold rush was a boon for the MCC, as more migrants poured into the city, the club membership numbers went up and up. The first inter colonial match was between Victoria and NSW in 26-27th March,1856.
8 years later a crown grant was dedicated for Cricket and issued to the club by Henry Barclay the then Governor. Apart from Cricket, the club also organised other games like American Baseball at the ground.
In 1861 a Trust was established to permanently reserve the ground from sale. The first Trustees were Hon. WC Haines, John Goodman, Thos. Hamilton (President of MCC) and A. Powlett. First public grandstand was a 200-metre long 6000-seat temporary structure built in 1861.
Clubs negotiations in 1862 lead to the arrival of the first English Cricket Team. The match was made possible by giving certain privileges to the promoters of the game. The expenses of bringing the English team was borne by Messrs Spiers & Pond the proprietors of the Café de Paris in Bourke Street. A new grand stand was completed for the occasion. Stephenson was the captain of the English Team and George Marshall the Captain of the Melbourne Team. The Stephenson’s team had 11 people whereas Melbourne team had 18 people. The Melbourne Team was no match for the Englishmen. At the conclusion of the game the team captained by H.H. Stephenson was presented with a purse of 100 sovereigns.
In1866, an Aboriginal team under TW Wills played against an MCC team on the MCG before 11,000 spectators on 26th and 27th December creating a history of sorts. MCC team had a resounding victory over their rivals. The Aboriginal team played on the MCG a further three times to 1869.
On 30th November 1870 MCG hosted first combined public School sports in which three schools took part – Wesley College, Scotch College and Melbourne Church of England Grammar School. Melbourne Grammar took the sports title.
On 15th March 1877, the first test match between England and Australia began at the MCG. This match is remembered for another reason – This was the match Charles Bannerman scored the first century in Test cricket
In 1879, Night football was first played in MCG under electric light.
In 1881,the original members’ stand was sold to the Richmond Cricket Club for £55. A new brick stand, considered at the time to be the world’s finest cricket facility, was built in its place. in 1882 when Prince Alfred and Prince George visited Melbourne, foundation for a new pavilion was also laid.
In 1884, when the Lillywhite tour stand burnt down, it was replaced by a new stand which seated 450 members and 4500 public.
During the World War II, MCG became a military camp between 1942 to 1945 and was used by United States- Army – Air Force – Marine Corps and The Royal Australian Air Force. The U.S Army’s fifth Air Force occupied the ground naming it “Camp Murphy”.
MCG gained international attention after hosting the 1956 Melbourne Olympics as the main arena. 107,700 people attended the opening ceremony. The Northern Stand, also known as the Olympic Stand, was built to replace the old Grandstand for the Olympic Games
By 1984, MCC had around 15000 members and it was only in 1984, women were first admitted as members.
Between 2011 and 2013, the Victorian Government and the MCC funded a $55 million refurbishment of the facilities of Great Southern Stand, including renovations to entrance gates, ticket outlets and food and beverage outlets.
What you can do at MCG
Apart from watching games, there are a multitude of things you can do at the ‘G’ and they are,
Visit National Sports Museum – Museum features memorabilia from some of the country’s biggest heroes and highlights moments that have shaped the traditions of Australian sport
Take a guided MCG Tour – excluding event days you can go for a tour of MCG. The highlight of the tour are: The famous MCC Long Room, MCC Library (founded in 1873), MCG Tapestry, Player change rooms, Cricketers’ viewing room, Ron Casey Media Centre, Portrait of Sir Donald Bradman and Sachin Tendulkar, A walk on the arena, Cricket Victoria Bill Lawry Centre and Ponsford Stand
Bars and Cafes – There are many bars and Cafes at the MCG giving you extensive choices of food and drinks while you are there for the games.
Address: Brunton Ave, Richmond VIC 3002
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