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Brendon is on familiar ground.
Brendon is on familiar ground.
On tour in the MCG.
The glorious MCG.

MCG Tour

Thursday, October 4, 2001
To Victorians, the Melbourne Cricket Ground is a way of life. The MCG is more than just a sportsground — let's check it out.

To Victorians, the Melbourne Cricket Ground is a way of life. The MCG is more than just a sports ground. Built in the early 1850s, it is an integral part of Australia's sporting and social landscape. Apart from being the place where the great Sir Donald Bradman knocked out nine test centuries and 10 first-class centuries, it is where thousands and thousands of supporters flock each weekend to watch the big men fly in the fast and fiery game of Australian Rules Football.

Rugby League, the rugby union Bledisloe Cup and international soccer matches have also been played there.

In 1877, the first ever cricket test was played at the MCG, and the first match hat-trick was taken there. The controversial one-day cricket matches made their debut with Australia playing England in 1970. It was a very important venue for the Southern Hemisphere's first Olympic Games in 1956. Australia's Golden Girl, Betty Cuthbert, won three gold medals at those games.

It seems ironic that this famous ground held its record crowd in 1959 not for a sporting event but for the 130,000 people who went for the preachings of the American Evangelist, Rev Billy Graham. In 1986, Pope John Paul II visited and made the hallowed ground even more hallowed.

Many of the world's crowd-attracting entertainers have had successful concerts at the MCG. Madonna, The Rolling Stones, The Three Tenors, U2, Paul McCartney, David Cassidy, David Bowie, Linda Ronstadt and Billy Joel with Elton John have sent their music around the stands.

The ground has four grandstands — The Members' Pavilion, The Ponsford, The Olympic and The Great Southern Stands. The Sydney Cricket Ground, when full to capacity, would fit comfortably into The Great Southern Stand.

Known as "The People's Ground", 97,500 sitting and standing, can attend an event there. The playing surface measures 7.25 hectares, and the MCG is so special to so many people, it almost has a heartbeat.

160 proud volunteers give their time to conduct tours of the MCG, and they have access to areas not normally available to visitors. There is understandably an emphasis on cricket, but it's not all about that.

Around 100,000 people enjoy the tour each year, starting in the Australian Gallery of Sport and Olympic Museum. It moves through the Aussie Rules Exhibition, and the Australian Cricket Hall of Fame, which has exhibits that leave devotees speechless. You can peep into the cricket wicket nursery, where the wickets live in frames during the football season. There is also an Extreme Sports Exhibition.

A series of eight magnificent bronze doors depict images of great cricketers, the first Aboriginal team, Sir Donald Bradman's first-class centuries, and Betty Cuthbert, while a large marble plaque opposite the doors shows the official record of medallists at the 1956 Olympics.

You can see Australia's largest historical sports library, and while around half of the books are about cricket, around 90 sports are represented there.

Your guide will take you to the players' changing rooms, the MCC Committee Room and the famous Long Room, which has a portrait gallery. The MCC Cricket Museum has a fine display of memorabilia, including the 1882 Blackham ball, which was used at the oval in the test match that led to the formation of the concept of the Ashes. There is rare porcelain, a replica of the Ashes urn, caps from many nations and artefacts from the 1930s bodyline series and 1887 test match.

A walk on the turf is sure to bring goose bumps. Most people standing there probably try to imagine the feeling of playing sport or music, surrounded by thousands of enthusiastic fans.

Visitors can enjoy a cup of tea while watching a 15-minute video, and there is a public dining room open on non-event days.

Location

Melbourne.

Cost

Melbourne Cricket Club two-hour President's tours of the MCG cost $17.50 for adults and $12.50 concessions. They run on the second and fourth Thursday of each month, play permitting.
1¼-hour tourist tours run each day on the hour, from 10am to 3pm. They are $16 for adults, $10 concessions and $40 for a family. Closed on Good Friday and Christmas Day.
Please note prices are valid at time of transmission and to the best of our knowledge are inclusive of GST.

More information

Melbourne Cricket Club tour information and bookings:
Ph (03) 9657 8864
Fax: (03) 9654 1387
www.mcg.org.au

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