The Bronze Doors

By Melbourne Cricket Club

Designed by Robert Ingpen, these eight bronze doors were commissioned to commemorate 150 years of the Melbourne Cricket Club and feature some of the greatest moments from the club's rich history.

Melbourne Cricket Club Bronze DoorsMelbourne Cricket Ground

Celebrating 150 Years

The Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) has been described as the "Australian Cathedral of Sport", a place of pilgrimage and worship for thousands of people every year. In celebration of its unique place in Australia's sporting culture, the Melbourne Cricket Club commissioned the creation of eight bronze cathedral doors - to hang at the ground in recognition of some of the greatest sporting achievements ever performed there.

Melbourne Cricket Club Bronze DoorsMelbourne Cricket Ground

Bronze doors of this style, depicting the lives and deeds of saints, first emerged in the Byzantine era of the 9th to 12th Century.

Perhaps one of the most famous examples being those of the Florence Baptistry, crafted by Lorenzo Ghiberti over 20 years, which tell the life of Christ across 28 panels.

Melbourne Cricket Club Bronze DoorsMelbourne Cricket Ground

The MCC Bronze Doors were designed by artist Robert Ingpen, who also designed the iconic MCG 150th Anniversary Tapestry, and were crafted by sculptors Lyn Ingoldsby and Bo Jones, and bronze caster Jenda Bucek.

Weighing over 400kg each and measuring 2.7m by 1.05m, the doors originally hung outside the MCC Members Pavilion but today, the remarkable works of art are installed on Level 2 of the MCG Members Stand.

Melbourne Cricket Club Bronze DoorsMelbourne Cricket Ground

The first 100 years of cricket

Taking pride of place on the first Bronze Door are Hugh Trumble and Bill Ponsford, two important figures in the history of the Melbourne Cricket Club and Australian Cricket in general.

At the top stands Trumble, preparing to bowl in his last Test – the final game of the 1903/04 Series. It was in this game that he took the second Test hat-trick of his career, becoming the first bowler in Test cricket to take three wickets with consecutive balls on two occasions.

Beneath him, Ponsford is shown sending a ball to the fence for four runs on his way to scoring 352 for Victoria in a 1926 match against New South Wales.

Although not his highest score - Ponsford was the first player to twice score more than 400 runs – his effort boosted the Victorian total to 1107, the highest score ever in first-class cricket anywhere in the world.

Beneath the duo stands the Aboriginal cricket team, who played against an MCC team on Boxing Day of 1866, captained by Tom Wills. Several of the players went on to tour England in 1868, becoming the first Australian sporting team ever to travel and compete internationally.

To their right is the Sheffield Shield, Australia’s first-class domestic cricket competition established by the Earl of Sheffield in 1891/92 at the conclusion of a tour by an English side, as captained by Dr W.G. Grace. The competition for this shield design was won by noted silversmith Phillip Blashki.

At the base, an 1858 match between teams from Victoria and New South Wales. Intercolonial cricket matches prior to 1901 were an important part of establishing Australia’s cricketing traditions and rivalries.

Melbourne Cricket Club Bronze DoorsMelbourne Cricket Ground

Historical moments of the MCC

The solo panel on this central Bronze Door pays tribute to some of the significant sports and cultural events, other than cricket and football, that occurred during the MCC's first 150 years at the MCG.

Melbourne Cricket Club Bronze DoorsMelbourne Cricket Ground

Shown here is the Austral Wheel Race, the world’s oldest cycling track race. This race was first held at the MCG in 1887 until 1903, then again between 1907 and 1910, attracting large and enthusiastic crowds.

In 1986, more than 60,000 people flocked to the MCG to attend a mass conducted by Pope John Paul II, on his first visit to Australia.

Following the outbreak of war in the Pacific in 1942, the MCG became a base of operations for several Australian and United States (US) military forces. More than 200,00 servicemen spent time at the MCG during World War II.

Melbourne Cricket Club Bronze DoorsMelbourne Cricket Ground

The first 100 years of football

The MCC played an important role in the early years of Australian Football (also known as 'Aussie Rules'), with many of the sport's greatest moments taking place at the 'home of sports', the MCG.

Featured on this Bronze Door is Ivor Warne-Smith, playing for the Melbourne Football Club. He played an exceptional game in the 1926 Grand Final, after winning his first Brownlow Medal as the competition’s best and fairest player. He became the first ever dual-Brownlow Medallist in 1928, his first year as Captain of the club.

Tom Wills (shown centre left) was a founding member of the Melbourne Football Club and an important figure in the early story of both football and cricket in Victoria.

Beneath Wills stands the MCG, the early home of Australian football, with one the first recognised games played in adjoining Yarra Park in 1858.

Melbourne Cricket Club Bronze DoorsMelbourne Cricket Ground

The 1956 Olympic
Games

In 1956, Melbourne played host to the Games of the XVI Olympiad -  dubbed the "Friendly Games" - with the MCG hosting competitors and visitors from all around the world.

The primary image on this door is of 18-year-old Betty Cuthbert crossing the finish line to win one of her three Gold Medals from the Games. Her triple-gold performance stunned the sporting world and ensured Cuthbert that would become one of Australia’s greatest ever athletes.

In the center is Australian middle and long-distance runner, Ron Clarke, who carried the Olympic Torch into the stadium and lit the flame that signalled the commencement of the Games.

To his right, Ukrainian Vladimir Kuts, representing the USSR, who won two Gold Medals in the 5,000 and 10,000 metres. His dual with Britain’s Gordon Pirie in the 10,000 metres is remembered as one of the great all-time contests in the event.

At the base is Charles ‘Chilla’ Porter who won Silver in the High Jump in a marathon contest - which began at 10am with 29 competitors and continued until the early evening of the same day. Porter and the USA’s Charles Dumas made their final jumps after 7pm that same night.

Melbourne Cricket Club Bronze DoorsMelbourne Cricket Ground

The fifty years of cricket 

The fifty years from 1938 to 1988 included some of cricket's most defining moments and characters.

On this Bronze Door we see the great Sir Donald Bradman during his first Test Series as Australian Captain in 1936/37. Bradman orchestrated a surprising and brilliant tactical move in the rain-affected Third Test, reversing the batting order and opening with the tail-enders. Bradman made 270 runs and Australia won the match.

Beneath Bradman, The Ashes are shown contained in the Darnley Urn as a symbol of Test matches between England and Australia.

To their right is Ray Lindwall, who was one of Australia’s leading bowlers in the 1940s and 1950s. Lindwall was part of team known as "The Invincibles" that toured England in 1948 and were unbeaten in the 34 matches they played.

Melbourne Cricket Club Bronze DoorsMelbourne Cricket Ground

The sporting sections

The Melbourne Cricket Club includes competitive sports beyond those most commonly known, cricket and football. Several of the 12 different sporting sections are presented on this Bronze Door.

The Rifle Club was established in 1900 and achieved national success.

The Tennis section was formed in 1879 and became a key player in the development of lawn tennis in Victoria.

The Hockey section began in 1961, winning both the B Grade and C Grade premierships in the Victorian Amateur Hockey Association that year.

The Squash section was founded in 1968 and originally played at courts located in the Ponsford Stand of the MCG.

The Lacrosse section was founded in 1896 and won its first premiership in 1898.

The Baseball section was formed in 1888 and is widely regarded as the oldest baseball club in Australia.

A bowling green was first established at the MCG in 1865, and the Bowling section of the club was formed in 1894.

Melbourne Cricket Club Bronze DoorsMelbourne Cricket Ground

Fifty years of football

This door celebrates Australian football in the latter half of the Twentieth Century.

The main image on this Bronze door is of Melbourne footballer, Robert Flower, captaining the Demons during the 1987 Elimination Final. It was the club’s first appearance in the finals in 23 years and the three games the club contested that year were the only finals Flower played in his career.

On the base of the door is Alex Jesulenko of Carlton, 'marking' the ball during the 1970 Grand Final between Carlton and Collingwood on the MCG. His spectacular effort was later named the 'Mark of the Century'.

In the middle lies an image of the Brownlow Medal, and the years of several Melbourne Football Club winners, including Ivo Warne-Smith in 1926, Don Cordner in 1946, and Brian Wilson in 1982.

At the bottom, again we're shown the MCG - but this time in the 1980s, following the installation of its world class light towers in 1984.

These Bronze Doors stand as a fitting tribute to a Club and Ground that have hosted some of the most significant sporting moments in Australian history.

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