Mcg melb

MCG in 2009

The Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) is an Australian sports stadium located in Yarra Park, Melbourne and is home to the Melbourne Cricket Club. It is the tenth largest stadium in the world, the largest in Australia, the largest stadium for playing cricket, and holds the world record for the highest light towers at any sporting venue. The MCG is within walking distance of the city centre and is serviced by the Richmond railway station, Richmond and the Jolimont railway station, East Melbourne. It is part of the Melbourne Sports and Entertainment Precinct.

Internationally, the MCG is remembered as the centrepiece stadium of both the 1956 Summer Olympics and the 2006 Commonwealth Games. The open-air stadium is also one of the world's most famous cricket venues, with the well-attended Boxing Day Test match commencing on Boxing Day (26 December) each year. Throughout the winter, it serves as the home of Australian rules football, with at least one game (though usually more) held there each round. The stadium fills to capacity for the AFL Grand Final in late September, or early October.

The MCG, often referred to by locals as "The G",[1] has also hosted other major events, including International Rules between the Australian Football League (AFL) and Gaelic Athletic Association, international Rugby union, State of Origin series (rugby league), FIFA World Cup qualifiers and International Friendly matches, serves as the finish line for the Melbourne Marathon and also major rock concerts.

Until the 1970s, more than 120,000 people sometimes crammed into the venue – the record crowd standing at around 130,000 for a Billy Graham evangelistic crusade in 1959, followed by 121,696 for the 1970 VFL Grand Final. Grandstand redevelopments and occupational health and safety legislation have now limited the maximum seating capacity to approximately 95,000 with an additional 5000 standing room capacity, bringing the total capacity to just over 100,000.

The MCG is listed on the Victorian Heritage Register and was included on the Australian National Heritage List on 26 December 2005.[2] It is referred to within Victoria as the "Spiritual Home of Australian Sport".

Early historyEdit

Founded in November 1838 the Melbourne Cricket Club (MCC) selected the current MCG site in 1853 after previously playing at several grounds around Melbourne. The club’s first game was against a military team at the Old Mint site, at the corner of William and Latrobe Streets. Burial Hill (now Flagstaff railway station) became its home ground in January 1839, however, the area was already set aside for Botanical Gardens and the club was moved on in October 1846, to an area on the south bank of the Yarra about where the Herald and Weekly Times building is today. Unfortunately, the area was subject to flooding forcing the club to move again, this time to a ground in South Melbourne.

It was not long before the club was forced out again, this time because of the expansion of the railway. The South Melbourne ground was in the path of Victoria’s first steam railway line from Melbourne to Sandridge (now Port Melbourne). Governor La Trobe offered the MCC a choice of three sites; an area adjacent to the existing ground, a site at the junction of Flinders and Spring Streets or a ten-acre (about 4 hectares) section of the Government Paddock at Richmond next to Richmond Park.

This last option, which is now Yarra Park, had been used by Aborigines until 1835. Between 1835 and 1853 it was an agistment area for colonial troopers’ horses. In 1850 it was part of a 200 acre (81 ha) stretch set aside for public recreation extending from Governor La Trobe’s Jolimont Estate to the Yarra River. By 1853 it had become a busy promenade for Melbourne residents.

An MCC sub-committee chose the Richmond Park option because it was level enough for cricket but sloped enough to prevent inundation. That ground was located where the Richmond, or outer, end of the current MCG is now.

At the same time the Richmond Cricket Club was given occupancy rights to six acres (2.4 hectares) for another cricket ground on the eastern side of the Government Paddock.

At the time of the land grant the Government stipulated that the ground was to be used for cricket and cricket only. This condition remained until 1933 when the State Government allowed the MCG’s uses to be broadened to include other purposes when not being used for cricket.

In 1863 a corridor of land running diagonally across Yarra Park was granted to the Hobson’s Bay Railway and divided Yarra Park from the river. The area closest to the river was also developed for sporting purposes in later years including Olympic venues in 1956.

Stadium developmentEdit

The first grandstand at the MCG was the original wooden members’ stand built in 1854, while the first public grandstand was a 200-metre long 6000-seat temporary structure built in 1861. Another grandstand seating 2000 and facing one way to the cricket ground and the other way to the park where football was played, was built in 1876 for the 1877 visit of James Lillywhite’s English cricket team. It was during this tour that the first Test Match was played.

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. The foundation stone was laid by Prince George of Wales and Prince Albert Victor on 4 July and the stand opened in December that year. It was also in 1881 that a telephone was installed at the ground, and the wickets and goal posts were changed from an east-west orientation to north-south. In 1882 a scoreboard was built which showed details of the batsman's name and how he was dismissed.

When the Lillywhite tour stand burnt down in 1884 it was replaced by a new stand which seated 450 members and 4500 public. In 1897 second storey wings were added to ‘The Grandstand’, as it was known, increasing capacity to 9,000 and in 1900 it was lit with electric light.

More stands were built in the early 20th Century. An open wooden stand was on the south side of the ground in 1904 and the 2084-seat Grey Smith Stand (known as the New Stand until 1912) was erected for members in 1906. The 4000-seat Harrison Stand on the ground’s southern side was built in 1908 followed by the 8000-seat Wardill Stand in 1912. In the 15 years after 1897 the stand capacity at the ground increased to nearly 20,000.

In 1927 the second brick members’ stand was replaced at a cost of £60,000. The Harrison and Wardill Stands were demolished in 1936 to make way for the Southern Stand which was completed in 1937. The Southern Stand seated 18,200 under cover and 13,000 in the open and was the main public area of the MCG. It was where the famous Bay 13 was located, the MCG’s equivalent to The Hill at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

The Northern Stand, also known as the Olympic Stand, was built to replace the old Grandstand for the 1956 Olympic Games. Ten years later, the Grey Smith Stand and the open concrete stand next to it were replaced by the Western Stand; the Duke of Edinburgh laid a foundation stone for the Western Stand on 3 March 1967, and it was completed in 1968. In 1986, the Western Stand was renamed the Ponsford Stand in honour of Victorian batsman Bill Ponsford.

The MCG was the home of Australia’s first full colour video scoreboard, which replaced the old scoreboard in 1982, located on Level 4 of the Ponsford Stand, with a second video screen added in 1994 almost directly opposite, located on Level 4 of the Olympic stand.. In 1985, light towers were installed at the ground, allowing for night football and day-night cricket games.

In 1988 inspections of the old Southern Stand found concrete cancer and provided the opportunity to replace the increasingly run-down 50-year-old facility. The projected cost of $100 million was outside what the Melbourne Cricket Club could afford so the Victorian Football League took the opportunity to part fund the project in return for a 30-year deal to share the ground. The new Great Southern Stand was completed in 1992, in time for the 1992 Cricket World Cup, at a final cost of $150 million.

The 1928 Members' stand, the 1956 Olympic stand and the 1968 Ponsford stand were demolished one by one between late 2003 to 2005, and replaced with a new structure in time for the 2006 Commonwealth Games. Despite now standing as a single unbroken stand, the individual sections retain the names of Ponsford, Olympic and Members Stands. The redevelopment cost exceeded Template:A$400 million and pushed the ground's capacity over the 100,000 mark. Since redevelopment, the highest attendance was the 2010 Grand Final of the AFL with 100,016.

From 2011 until 2013, the Victorian Government and the Melbourne Cricket Club will fund a $55 million refurbishment of the facilities of Great Southern Stand, including renovations to entrance gates and ticket outlets, food and beverage outlets, public concourses, toilets, function rooms, etc.; the grandstand itself will not be substantially modified as part of the refurbishment.[3]

Olympic GamesEdit

Main article: Melbourne 1956

The MCG’s most famous moment in history was as the main stadium for the 1956 Olympic Games.[4] The MCG was only one of seven possible venues, including the Melbourne Showgrounds, for the Games’ main arena. The MCG was the Federal Government’s preferred venue but there was resistance from the MCC. The inability to decide on the central venue nearly caused the Games to be moved from Melbourne. Prime Minister Robert Menzies recognised the potential embarrassment to Australia if this happened and organised a three-day summit meeting to thrash things out. Attending was Victorian Premier John Cain, the Prime Minister, deputy opposition leader Arthur Calwell, all State political leaders, civic leaders, Olympic officials and trustees and officials of the MCC. Convening the meeting was no small effort considering the calibre of those attending and that many of the sports officials were only part-time amateurs.

As 22 November, the date of the opening ceremony, drew closer, Melbourne was gripped ever more tightly by Olympic fever. At 3 pm the day before the opening ceremony, people began to line up outside the MCG gates. That night the city was paralysed by a quarter of a million people who had come to celebrate.

The MCG's capacity was increased by the new Olympic (or Northern) Stand, and on the day itself 103,000 people filled the stadium to capacity. A young up and coming distance runner was chosen to carry the Olympic torch into the stadium for the opening ceremony.

Although Ron Clarke had a number of junior world records for distances of 1500 m, one mile (1.6 km) and two miles (3 km), he was relatively unknown in 1956. Perhaps the opportunity to carry the torch inspired him because he went on to have a career of exceptional brilliance and was without doubt the most outstanding runner of his day. At one stage he held the world record for every distance from two miles (3 km) to 20 km. His few failures came in Olympic and Commonwealth Games competition. Although favourite for the gold at Rome in 1960 he was placed ninth in the 5 km and the marathon and third in the 10 km. He lost again in the 1966 Commonwealth Games and in 1968 at altitude in Mexico he collapsed at the end of the 10 km race.

On that famous day in Melbourne in 1956 the torch spluttered and sparked, showering Clarke with hot magnesium, burning holes in his shirt. When he dipped the torch into the cauldron it burst into flame singeing him further. In the centre of the ground, John Landy, the fastest miler in the world, took the Olympic oath and sculler Merv Wood carried the Australian flag.

The Melbourne Games also saw the high point of Australian female sprinting with Betty Cuthbert winning three gold medals at the MCG. She won the 100 m and 200 m and anchored the winning 4 x 100 m team. Born in Merrylands in Sydney’s west she was a champion schoolgirl athlete and had already broken the world record for the 200 m just before the 1956 Games. She tended to be overshadowed somewhat by her Western Suburbs club mate, the better-known Marlene Matthews. When they got to the Games, Matthews was the overwhelming favourite especially for the 100 m a distance over which Cuthbert had beaten her just once.

Both Matthews and Cuthbert won their heats with Matthews setting an Olympic record of 11.5 seconds in hers. Cuthbert broke that record in the following heat with a time of 11.4 seconds. The world record of 11.3 was held by another Australian, Shirley Strickland who was eliminated in her heat. In the final Matthews felt she got a bad start and was last at the 50 metre mark. Cuthbert sensed Isabella Daniels from the USA close behind her and pulled out a little extra to win Australia’s first gold at the Games in a time of 11.5 seconds, Matthews was third. The result was repeated in the 200 m final. Cuthbert won her second gold breaking Marjorie Jackson’s Olympic record. Mathews was third again.

By the time the 1956 Olympics came around, Shirley Strickland was a mother of 31 years of age but managed to defend her 80 m title, which she had won in Helsinki four years before, winning gold and setting a new Olympic record.

The sensational incident of the track events was the non-selection of Marlene Matthews in the 4 x 100 m relay. Matthews trained with the relay team up until the selection was made but Cuthbert, Strickland, Fleur Mellor and Norma Croker were picked for the team. There was outrage at the selection which increased when Matthews went on to run third in both the 100 m and 200 m finals. Personally she was devastated and felt that the she had been overlooked for her poor baton change. Strickland was disappointed with the way Matthews was treated and maintained it was an opinion held in New South Wales that she had baton problems. One of the selectors, Doris Magee from NSW, said that selecting Matthews increased the risk of disqualification at the change. But Cuthbert maintained that the selectors made the right choice saying that Fleur Mellor was fresh, a specialist relay runner and was better around the curves than Matthews.

The men did not fare so well. The 4 x 400 m relay team, including later IOC Committee member Kevan Gosper, won silver. Charles Porter also won silver in the high jump. Hec Hogan won bronze in the 100 m to become the first Australian man to win a medal in a sprint since the turn of the century and despite injury John Landy won bronze in the 1500 m. Allan Lawrence won bronze in the 10,000 m event.

Apart from athletics, the stadium was also used for the soccer finals, the hockey finals, the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, and an exhibition game of baseball between the Australian National Team and a US armed services team at which an estimated crowd of 114,000 attended. This was the Guinness World Record for the largest attendance for any baseball game, which stood until a 29 March 2008 exhibition game between the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers at the Los Angeles Coliseum (also a former Olympic venue) drawing 115,300.

The MCG was also used for another demonstration sport, Australian Rules. The Olympics being an amateur competition meant that only amateurs could play in the demonstration game. A combined team of amateurs from the VFL and VFA were selected to play a state team from the Victorian Amateur Football Association (VAFA). The game was played 7 December 1956 with the VAFA side, wearing white jumpers, green collars and the Olympic rings on their chests, winning easily 81 to 55.

The MCG’s link with its Olympic past continues to this day. Within its walls is the IOC-endorsed Australian Gallery of Sport and Olympic Museum.

Forty-four years later at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, the Grounds served as host to several football preliminaries, making it one of a few venues ever used for more than one Olympics.[5]

Commonwealth GamesEdit

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Main article: 2006 Commonwealth Games

The Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the 2006 Commonwealth Games were held at the MCG, as well as athletics events during the games. The games began on 15 March and ended on 26 March.

Rugby leagueEdit

Rugby league was first played at the ground on 15 August 1914, with a New South Wales team losing to England 15–21. The first ever State of Origin series match at the MCG (and second in Melbourne) was played on 8 June 1994, attracting a then record rugby league crowd in Australia of 87,161. State of Origin games were also played there in 1995 and 1997. The Melbourne Storm played two marquee games at the MCG in 2000. This was the first time that they had played outside of their normal home ground of Olympic Park Stadium which holds 18,500 people. Their first game was held on 3 March 2000 against the St. George Illawarra Dragons in a rematch of the infamous 1999 Grand Final. Anthony Mundine said they were 'not worthy premiers' and the Storm responded by running in 12 tries to two and winning 70–10 in front of 23,239 fans. This was their biggest crowd they had played against until 33,427 turned up to the 2007 Preliminary Final at Docklands Stadium. The record home and away crowd record has also been overhauled, when a match at Docklands in 2010 against St George attracted 25,480 spectators. Their second game attracted only 15,535 spectators and was up against the Cronulla Sharks on 24 June 2000. Once again, the Storm won 22–16.

Since then, there has been recent talk of Rugby League's State of Origin series returning to the venue after the stadium put in a bid to host games in 2008.[6]


On 9 February 2006, the then Victorian premier Steve Bracks and Football Federation Australia chairman Frank Lowy announced that the MCG would host a world class soccer event each year from 2006 until 2009 inclusive. The announcement came as the game gained further popularity in the country following the qualification for the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany.[7]

The agreement sees an annual fixture at the MCG, beginning with a clash between Australia and European champions Greece on 25 May 2006 in front of a sell-out crowd of 95,103, before Australia left to contest in the World Cup finals. Australia beat Greece 1–0. The Socceroos also hosted a match in 2007 against Argentina, losing 1–0, as well as 2010 FIFA World Cup qualification matches in 2009 against Asian Football heavyweights (Japan) which attracted 81,872 fans as Australia beat Japan 2–1 via 2 Tim Cahill trademark headers after falling behind 1–0 late in the 1st half. In 2010 it was announced that as a warm up to the 2010 FIFA World Cup which the Australians had qualified for, they would play fellow qualified nation New Zealand on 24 May at the MCG.

Other matches played at the MCG include the following:

  • An exhibition match between Australia and Juventus played on 13 June 1984
  • A 1998 FIFA World Cup qualifier between the Socceroos and Iran on Saturday 29 November 1997. The match was drawn 2–2, with Iran progressing on the away goal rule.
  • A friendly match between Brazil B and Australia on 17 November 1999.
  • An Olympic Tournament group match between Italy and the Olyroos on 13 September 2000. Plus other preliminary matches during the Olympics which also included quarter final and the Semi final between Chile and Cameroon who went on to win the gold medal.
  • A 2002 FIFA World Cup qualifier between the Australia and Uruguay on Tuesday 20 November 2001. The Socceroos won 1–0, however Uruguay progressed after later winning the second leg 3–0.
  • A friendly match between Australia and the then European champions, Greece – which was played as a warmup to the 2006 FIFA World Cup
  • A friendly match between Australia and Argentina – Argentina had a full strength side with superstars such as Lionel Messi and Carlos Tévez
  • A friendly match between Australia and the All Whites as a warm up before the 2010 FIFA World Cup in which Australia won in the very last play of the game.


In 1878 the Melbourne Cricket Club’s Lawn Tennis Committee laid an asphalt court at the MCG and Victoria’s first game of tennis was played there. A second court of grass was laid in 1879 and the first Victorian Championship played on it in 1880. The first inter-colonial championship was played in 1883 and the first formal inter-state match between NSW and Victoria played in 1884 with Victoria winning.

In 1889 the MCC arranged for tennis to be played at the then Warehousemen’s Cricket Ground, now the Albert Ground, at Albert Park, rather than the MCG.


It was at the MCG in 1869 that Australia’s first bicycle race was held. The event was for velocipedes, crude wooden machines with pedals on the front wheels. In 1898 the Austral Wheel Race was held at the MCG attracting a crowd of 30,000 to see cyclists race for a total of £200 in prize money.

Other usesEdit

  • Australia played New Zealand in rugby union at the MCG on 26 July 1997, losing 18–33 in front of a crowd of 90,119. and in 30 June 2007, Winning 20–15 in front of a crowd of 79,322.
  • During World War II the stands were used by the Australian and American armies. It was used by the US Army Air Forces who moved into the MCG and gave the name of their base "Camp Murphy". It was also used by the First Division of the US Marine Corps, an RAAF Technical Training unit and as the RAAF Personnel Depot. The RAAF stayed at the MCG until 27 October 1945.
  • Queen Elizabeth II visited the MCG in 1954 twice for an assembly and display. She attended a Richmond versus Fitzroy match on 5 April 1970, and also attended the Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony at the ground on 15 March 2006.
  • A record for attendance at the grounds was set by religious leader Billy Graham whose event in 1959 was attended by at least 130,000 people.
  • Pope John Paul II held a service at the MCG on 27 November 1986, and a celebration there of the Polish community the next day.
All time highest attendance records at the MCG
Number Attendance Event Date
1 130,000 Billy Graham Crusade 15 March 1959
2 121,696 VFL Grand Final Template:AFL Car v Template:AFL Col 26 September 1970
3 120,000 40th Eucharistic Congress 25 February 1973
4 119,195 VFL Grand Final Template:AFL Car v Template:AFL Ric 27 September 1969
5 118,192 VFL Grand Final Template:AFL Haw v Template:AFL StK 25 September 1971

Sporting recordsEdit

  • First ever Test Cricket match (Australia v England) – 1877
  • First ever One day international Cricket match – 1971
  • Highest first class cricket score – 1107 (Victoria v NSW, 1926)
  • Australia's first international Lacrosse match (Australia v Canada, 1907, 30,000)
  • Fastest ball bowled in a Cricket match in Australia, 3rd fastest in the world – 160.7 km/h (Shaun Tait, Australia v Pakistan, 5 February 2010)
  • Highest Final margin for a VFL/AFL Grand Final - 119 Points (Geelong Cats v Port Adelaide Power, 26th September, 2007)

Attendance recordsEdit

  • Highest VFL/AFL attendance – 121,696 (Collingwood v Carlton, 1970)
  • Highest soccer crowd in Australia – 107,000 (1956 Olympics Soccer Final){{ safesubst:ifsubst |{{subst:Unsubst|Citation needed| name|¬|reason|¬| date|January 2010 }}|


  • Highest Australian soccer crowd – 95,103 (Australia v Greece, 2006)
  • Highest single-day attendance in the history of Test Cricket – 90,800 in 1961 (Australia v West Indies)
  • Highest One Day International crowd – 87,182 (1992 World Cup Final England v Pakistan)
  • Highest Australian religious event attendance – 130,000–140,000 (Billy Graham crusade, 1959)
  • The first stadium in the world to have its annual number of visitors equal to the city's population{{ safesubst:ifsubst |{{subst:Unsubst|Citation needed| name|¬|reason|¬| date|January 2010 }}|


Stadium recordsEdit

  • World's first all colour cricket scoreboard with instant replays
  • World's first electronic sightscreens
  • World's first super sopper
  • World's first scrolling signage at an oval-shaped ground
  • First time an international Cricket match was played on a one-piece portable pitch, Boxing Day Test, 2000
  • World's highest light towers{{ safesubst:ifsubst |{{subst:Unsubst|Citation needed| name|¬|reason|¬| date|September 2010 }}|


Cricket RecordsEdit

Test RecordsEdit

  • Highest Test Total: 604 – Australia vs. England, 26 February 1937
  • Highest Individual Test Score: 307 – Bob Cowper, Australia vs. England, 11 February 1966
  • Best Test Innings Bowling Figures: 9/86 – Sarfraz Nawaz, Pakistan vs. Australia, 10 March 1979
  • Best Test Match Bowling Figures: 15/124 – Wilfred Rhodes, England vs. Australia, 1 January 1904
  • Highest Test Partnership: 346 (for the 6th wicket)Sir Donald Bradman & Jack Fingleton, Australia vs. England, 1 January 1937

ODI RecordsEdit

Twenty20 International RecordsEdit

  • Highest Twenty20 Total: 9/182 – Australia vs. South Africa, 11 January 2009
  • Highest Individual Twenty20 Score: 89 (43) – David Warner, Australia vs. South Africa, 11 January 2009
  • Best Twenty20 Innings Bowling Figures: 3/11 – Nathan Bracken, Australia vs. India, 1 February 2008
  • Highest Twenty20 Partnership: 60 (for the 1st wicket)Ian Bell & Steven Davies, England vs. Australia, 14 January 2011

Parade of ChampionsEdit

Outside of the MCG are statues of famous Australian athletes donated by Tattersalls and known as the Parade of Champions, including many Australian rules football and cricket legends.

They include:

There is also a statue depicting the first game of Australian rules football and the nearby Punt Road Oval has a statue of Jack Dyer.

See alsoEdit


Further readingEdit

  • Cashman, Richard (1995) Paradise of Sport Melbourne: Oxford University Press
  • Cuthbert, Betty (1966) Golden Girl
  • Gordon, Harry (1994) Australia and the Olympic Games Brisbane: University of Queensland Press
  • Hinds, Richard (1997) Low blows. Sport’s top 10 The Sydney Morning Herald 1 November
  • Linnell, Garry (1995) Football Ltd Sydney: Ironbark Pan Macmillan Australia
  • Pollard, Jack (1990) Australia Test Match Grounds London: Willow Books
  • Plan of the Town and Suburbs of Melbourne 1843
  • Vamplew, Wray; Moore, Katharine; O’Hara, John; Cashman, Richard; and Jobling, Ian [editors] (1997) The Oxford Companion to Australian Sport Second Edition Melbourne: Oxford University Press

External linksEdit