Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG)
Melbourne Cricket Ground, or the 'G as it is affectionately known, is the largest stadium in Australia and the Southern Hemisphere, and is the world’s largest capacity cricket ground. Located in Yarra Park, Melbourne, Victoria, it is the home of the Melbourne Cricket Club.
Melbourne Cricket Club (MCC)
Founded in 1838, the MCC played across three different locations in Melbourne before being granted permission to establish a permanent ground in "Police Paddock” in 1853.
Melbourne Cricket Ground in 1853 sketchMelbourne Cricket Ground
This sketch from 1853 refers to the location as “Cricket Ground Melbourne”.
MCC Members Reserve
In 1854, the MCC constructed the First Members Pavilion, and in September of that year the first match between club members was played at the new ground. The pavilion was wooden and had approximately 60 seats. However, with a growing number of members it had to be replaced by a more substantial edifice in 1881. This Second Members' Pavilion was brick and the foundation stone laid by Princes George and Edward of Wales. It stood until 1928 when it was demolished to make way for the Third Members' Pavilion. In turn, this pavilion remained until a large scale redevelopment of the MCG in 2006. The second pavilion's Foundation Stone remains on display at the MCC Members' entrance.
At the heart of the MCG are the Long and Committee Rooms in the middle of the MCC Members Reserve area. Between the two, the Foundation Gallery displays names of past MCC Committee leadership and four portraits of the original founders. A search for the fifth still continues.
The Sports of the MCG
The MCG and surrounding facilities have hosted a multitude of different sports including cricket, Australian rules football, soccer, rugby, tennis, cycling, athletics, bowls and more. Different MCC-affiliated sports clubs are acknowledged in a series of wall displays.
The MCG as a Barracks
From 1942 until 1945, the government requisitioned the MCG for use by World War II forces. Plaques near Gate 2 acknowledge that over 200,000 personnel from the Royal Australian Air Force, the United States Army Air Forces and the United States Marine Corp were barracked here.
The 150th Anniversary Tapestry
Located outside the Long Room, the tapestry depicts many iconic moments from the history of the MCG and represents the importance of the ground in the sporting and cultural life of Australia. It was created in 2002-03 by artist Robert Ingpen and the Victorian Tapestry Workshop.
The Bronze Doors
In the Anniversary Gallery, mounted opposite the tapestry, are sculptured bronze panels depicting iconic sporting moments that have occurred at the stadium. The panels were also designed by Robert Ingpen and were originally part of doors in the Members Pavilion.
Ron Casey Media Centre
The media centre hosts TV and radio broadcasters during matches. It is named after Ronald Arthur Casey (5 July 1929 – 2 October 2018) who was an Australian television presenter, sports journalist and talk-back radio host.
Midfielders Food Court and Bar
The MCG has dozens of different sized bars and eating options, some offer great views of the field while you wait! They are named after legends and champions of sports played there.
Olympic Stand (Northern Stand)
The first grandstand was built in time for visiting tour of James Lillywhite's English cricket team and the world’s first test match. It was known as the Reversible Stand due to a system of ropes and pulleys, which reversed the seats so that spectators could watch football in the adjoining Yarra Park. The Reversible Stand was destroyed by fire in 1884 and was replaced by “The Grandstand”, which stood until 1955, when it was replaced by the Northern Stand (aka Olympic Stand) to accommodate the Melbourne's 1956 Olympic Games. The Northern Stand was demolished as part of the stadium rebuild for the 2006 Commonwealth Games.
Gates to MCC Members Reserve
The stands around the MCG are continuous ovals but club rules and tradition maintain the use of the stand names and boundaries. The edges of the Members Reserve, where the pavilions once stood, are defined by black gates with the distinctive MCC logo and are manned during events.
Guided Tours of the MCG
Daily tours of the stadium start inside the MCG near Gate 3. They take a behind-the-scenes look at the MCC Members Reserve and include a chance to walk on the field.
The Rules of Melbourne Football Club
The Melbourne Football Club was formed to keep the cricket team fit during the off-season. As there were no standardised football codes at that time, in 1859 they appointed a committee to devise a set of rules, which can be seen written on this wall.
Yarra Park Room
The first grandstand at the MCG was reversible to allow views of cricket on the field and the football played in Yarra Park. This function room has floor-to-ceiling windows, offering scenic views over the park.
Video Scoreboard and Replay Screen
In 1982 Australia's first full colour video scoreboard was added to the Western Stand. In 1999 it caught fire and was replaced. In 1994 a second screen was installed opposite, on Level 4 of the Olympic Stand. New, double-sized scoreboards replaced both screens in 2013.
Great Southern Stand
To accommodate more spectators outside of the Members Pavilion and grandstands, an open wooden stand was built to the south in 1904. It was augmented by the Harrison Stand (1908), named after a former MCC vice-president, and Wardill Stand (1911), named after a former MCC Secretary. All these stands were demolished in 1936 to build the new Southern Stand. With a capacity of 48,000, it became one of the world's biggest spectator facilities. The entire Southern Stand was replaced by the similarly sized but more modern Great Southern Stand, in time for the 1992 Cricket World Cup.
Great Moments of the Grand Final
The Australian Football League (AFL) Grand Final is hosted by the MCG. Prior to 1902 the ground was unavailable for football but the Victorian Football League convinced the MCC to rent the ground for the Grand Final that year and its huge success established the 'G as its home.
Entry Gate 4
There are many ways to get to the MCG: by car, train, tram, bus or on foot! Seven gates spaced around the arena ensure the large crowds can get easily get into and out of the stadium during events.
Jack Ryder Room
The arena has multiple function rooms that provide presentation, meeting, dining and bar facilities, with a view of the arena. The Jack Ryder Room is named after cricketer John "Jack" Ryder MBE (8 August 1889 – 3 April 1977) who played for Victoria and Australia.
The Jolimont Club
Many of the MCG's corporate suites sit on 3rd level of the Southern stand. Nestled among them is the Jolimont Club offering luxurious hospitality from some of the best seats in the house.
Reserved for AFL Members
During football games a section of the Southern Stand is reserved for exclusive seating and use by AFL members.
Ponsford Stand (Western Stand)
The first western stand was an open side, roofed structure built in 1884 and called the Smokers Stand. In 1905 it was removed and given to the Richmond Cricket Club, and next year the space was filled by the Members Reserve Stand (renamed in 1912 the Francis Grey Smith Stand after a former MCC president). An open concrete stand was also added in 1926, but this and the Grey Smith Stand were demolished in 1966 to allow the construction of the Western Stand over the next two years. This stand was renamed in 1986 for former Test and MCC cricketer Bill Ponsford. It was demolished in 2002 as part of the Commonwealth Games stadium rebuild.
Victorian First Class Players
The Victorian first-class team plays Sheffield Shield cricket at the venue during the season. All cricketers to have represented Victoria at first-class level have their names engraved into these wooden panels.
Near Gate 1, the entrance to the Ponsford Stand, is a portrait of William Harold "Bill" Ponsford MBE (19 October 1900 – 6 April 1991), the former player it is named after. He played for Victoria and Australia, and still holds several first-class batting records.
View Outside H.C.A. Harrison Event Room
H.C.A. Harrison was one of the early pioneers of Australian rules football. He captained the Richmond, Melbourne (twice) and Geelong clubs, and served on the MCC committee, including the role of vice-president for 29 years.
MCG corporate suites are leased on an annual basis, providing access for all domestic and international cricket matches, and AFL games, including finals.
The Ponsford Stand terrace bar overlooks its neighbour Tennis HQ (on the right) and the Melbourne & Olympic park precinct. These facilities are home to the Australian Open, the largest annual event in the Southern Hemisphere.
In late 2002, work commenced on the demolition of the Ponsford and Olympic Stands, along with the Members Pavilion, to make way for three new conjoined grandstands that encompass the entire northern side of the stadium. This huge redevelopment was completed in time for the Commonwealth Games in March, 2006.
The Light Towers
In 1984 six light towers were added to the ground, enabling the playing of evening games in cricket and football. The first floodlit event was a cricket match on 17 February 1985 between Australia and England. These 85 meter tall towers are now part of the MCG's iconic profile.
The Home of Australian Sport
The 2002-2006 rebuild created a seamless ring of stands, but the traditional MCG stand names persist. They are part of the identity of the unique sports venue that hosts the Boxing Day cricket Test Match and the AFL Grand Final, two cornerstones of the Australian sporting year.
Created using assets and information from Melbourne Cricket Club and Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Edited by John E. Bailey.