The MCG: Melbourne’s best-kept secret?

It’s been referred to as ‘The Cathedral Down the Road’ and a ‘modern-day coliseum’. Sports fans the world over – especially Melburnians – know it simply and affectionately as ‘the ‘G’. But the Melbourne Cricket Ground is so much more than a place to watch footy and cricket. In fact, its function as an historical resource could be Melbourne’s best-kept secret.

Crowd at the MCG

The MCG today

With a 160-year history and a reputation as the largest stadium in Australia (tenth largest in the world), a visit to the MCG free from the Boxing Day Test crowds or screaming AFL supporters reveals a veritable treasure trove of history and ‘did you know’ moments. For example, did you know the MCG played home to American troops during World War II?

MCG's Ponsford Stand looking over Yarra Park circa 1914-1918

MCG’s Ponsford Stand looking over Yarra Park, circa 1914-1918 (source: MCC Library)

One way to learn more about the ‘people’s ground’ is to go on a guided MCG tour. Run by a team of Melbourne Cricket Club (MCC) volunteers, a tour takes about 75 minutes and offers unprecedented access to an MCG few ever get to see – such as the players’ change rooms, treading on the hallowed turf (subject to ground staff commitments) and seeing the MCC’s famous Long Room. Add in a visit to the National Sport Museum, and you have a day steeped in historical glory.

One of the tour’s unsung highlights has to be the MCC’s Library. Established in 1873, it is one of the most amazing and all-encompassing sports libraries in the world. Need to settle an age-old bet or a sporting argument? It’s likely you can find the answer here. Both the MCC Library and Archive present incredible exhibitions on sporting history and, for those of us not fortunate enough to have an MCC membership, an MCG tour is the easiest way to access some of the exceptional living histories that won’t be found anywhere else.

You may not be a sports fan but, as a lover of Australian history and culture, you could do no wiser than put the MCG on your must-visit list.

Where else in Melbourne can you relive history?

MCG scoring board 1895 (source: MCC Library)

MCG scoring board, 1895 (source: MCC Library)