My second week in Melbourne started in the same fashion as my first; lots of aimless wandering around and handing out CV’s.
One thing I did actually plan and do however, was a tour of the Melbourne Cricket Ground, or the MCG for short. Melbourne is a sports fan’s dream. As well as the MCG, you have a number of sporting arenas nearby including AAMI Park and Rod Laver Arena. Both of these are practically next to the MCG and you also have the Etihad Stadium down by the Docklands. I’ve spent quite a lot of time just wandering around these stadiums taking the sights in.
Back to the MCG; anyone who knows me relatively well is likely to know that I hate cricket. Seriously, I think it is the most mind-numbing sport on the planet. I’d rather watch myself falling down the stairs on a week-long loop than sit through a game of cricket. Thankfully for me though, the MCG also hosts a number of AFL games, which happens to be one of my new favourite sports.
The first thing that hit me was just how bloody big the place is. I’d been outside the ground before, so it wasn’t really a huge surprise. However; when you actually stand on the pitch and look up, you can’t help but think: “SHIIIIIIIIIIT”! I think the tour bloke said it holds about 90,000 people when at full capacity. When you consider I support Rochdale, and our beloved Spotland holds just over 10,000 people (but regularly only pulls in about 2,000), it’s easy to see why I was slightly overwhelmed.
Perhaps the most surprising thing about the MCG for me, was the fact that it didn’t really feel like a sports stadium. If anything, it felt more like an airport! It’s hard to explain why, but it just did. For one, you’ve got your executive suites which only seem to be lacking a departure board. I, however, couldn’t get over the amount of catering outlets!
At English football grounds (I don’t know about any other sports), you’re usually given a choice of pie, burger, chips, watered-down soft drinks and drinks so hot that your tongue turns furry. If that last point made no sense to you, go to your local football ground and get a cup of Bovril – trust me.
At the MCG, I’m convinced you could get silver service in your seat whilst watching the game. Can you believe I’ve just been on the tour of a huge stadium that has hosted many memorable sporting events, and I’m writing about the food kiosks? I’m not sure I can.
The best thing about visiting stadiums for me, is the amount of photo opportunities. Call me a child, but I cannot help getting a picture sat in the press room behind a microphone. I did it at the Nou Camp, as well as the Mestalla last summer, so there was no chance I wasn’t getting one a the MCG! Seriously, I’m like a kid in a sweet shop when I do anything like this. I need photographs with everything.
It’s also worth mentioning that all the tour guides are members of the Melbourne Cricket Club and they do the tours voluntarily. It’s nice to see the passion they have for their stadium, as the tour was extremely informative.
In addition to the tour, we also got tickets to the National Sport Museum which is situated in the stadium. This is a huge collection of sporting memorabilia, ranging from cricket, to football, to swimming and netball. You name a sport, and there was something related to it in there. Sadly, no photographs were allowed for copyright reasons.
We were, however, allowed to take pictures in “Game On!”, which was an interactive area where you can try your hand at different sports including Aussie Rules, archery, cricket and cycling. Whether this was aimed primarily at children, I’m not too sure, but it was a right laugh.
I was absolutely shattered when we left, and I’d built up a right sweat. Guess you can tell it’s been a few months since I worked out! In fact, I felt I’d earned a beer so we took a walk into the city and found a cool bar called eFiftyFive, so a productive day all round!
I’d say for any sports fan visiting Melbourne, the MCG is a must-do. The sheer size of the stadium is breathtaking, and the tour is greatly informative. If you do go, make sure to take advantage of the $30 ticket which gets you into the museum as well as the tour, as these would be $20 each if purchased separately.
What’s the best stadium you’ve ever been to?