A few days ago, we had a guided tour at the Melbourne Cricket Grounds (the MCG, or ‘The G’ to its friends) which has the famous Boxing Day cricket matches (this year vs India).
We arrived at Light Tower 3, which is not the same as Entrance 3, where we were supposed to be, but it was good to see the statue of Sir Donald Bradman, The Don (or, I guess, “The D” to his friends). The Don did all sorts of wonderful crickety sort of things, like making 6996 runs during his lifetime, averaging 99.94 runs per innings. A dull day when he was not scoring a century, I guess.
Finally we stopped taking photos of the approach to The G and found our way to Entrance 3. We paid our $20, put on our green identifying bracelets and had an enthralling couple of hours walking through most of the stands on all levels, through the members’ lounges, past the members’ bars (limits must be drawn!), out on the roof to see Melbourne from an unusual angle, to the back to see the players practising at the indoor and outdoor nets and finally had a welcome rest on the members’ chairs.
A dear little old lady took us round – she’s been a member for years but not quite the 50 years that entitles one to a $15 annual membership and a special lounge and fat padded reserved seats. She pays $590 per year (ouch!) but reckons that entitles her to really cheap sporting events, and since she attends all the cricket games and all the Aussie Rules football matches, that IS a big savings (considering that to attend the five days of the Boxing Day test would have totalled $159).
Membership is quite an issue, since it can take years to be accepted (or for enough members to fall off the perch to allow more to be accepted). However there is ONE way to get in quickly – if parents register their baby within 24 hours of birth for $66, s/he is instantly accepted, and will be offered (real paying) membership from the age of 15. Of course if the kid doesn’t become interested in cricket, the money is lost…..(you can’t hand on your membership).
No surprise, the members sit on nice seats and get the best views and private dining rooms. And private loos.
This view above makes up the back wall of the members’ stand…. it shows the men’s toilets, with one-way glass in the windows so that male members (ahem) don’t have to miss a single minute of play. The women’s toilet is round the corner with no window at all, which has to say a lot about the Club. Or about the female members.
The Long Room dining area (two storeys) is very swish, but with dress rules to match:
No one who is dressed like a sportsman (or sportswoman) may enter – that includes wearing a jacket with a zip, in case it might be mistaken for a tracksuit. Guess that would be like allowing the workers (the cricketers) to come in at the front door instead of the tradesman’s entrance.
Cricket fanatics certainly like their stats.
Above is a picture of the best scores recorded at the MCG, commemorated by a little notice board. The guide also showed us the distance of the biggest hit that was ever made there (Simon O’Donnell). The seat that it landed on is painted gold, and there is a plaque in front of the chair…..(circled, in the blue area; my close up didn’t work).
The guide said there are 10 drop-in wickets, meaning the grassy areas that the batsmen run about on. A piece of turf 25 m long is dropped on top of the concrete base, moved in one flat piece from the nursery by a HUGE vehicle. When the cricket season is over, the wicket is removed again and replaced by turf for the footie season. Last year, cricket season ended (late) on 21 March and the turf was ready for the footballers on 25 March.
There are 100 018 seats available at the MCG. The biggest crowd they ever had was 100 016 (footie final). Who were the two people who didn’t want to attend the footie final?
The tour lasts 75 – 100 minutes, and may be combined for an extra fee with the Sports Museum tour – different coloured bracelets – showing memorabilia from all over, not just cricket. With eyeballs out on stalks, we saw a few things through the doors: the bike that Cadell Evans used to win the Tour de France in 2011, and Jack Brabham’s Formula 1 car about the size of the average bath tub. The museum guide told us there were holograms of various sportsmen inside (before he spotted the greenness of the bracelets) and smiled us past to the exit. Another day!
Cost for the MCG Tour: $20. No booking required. http://www.mcg.org.au/Tours.aspx