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A step inside one of the world’s greatest sports stadiums

Daniel Resnik takes you inside one of the world’s greatest sports stadium – The Melbourne Cricket Ground. Atmosphere, premium food and beverages, watching a live match – you will experience it all. 

Born and raised in Sydney, I’ve been a devoted rugby league (NRL) supporter my entire life. And as a dedicated sports enthusiast, I’ve also watched every AFL grand final for as long as I can remember.

In all those years I’ve loved every game, except the 2010 grand final between St Kilda and Collingwood that ended in a draw. A replay the following week was necessary. These days if there’s a draw, the grand final is taken into extra time and a winner is awarded the premiership-winning trophy on the day.

Growing up I supported St Kilda, but when South Melbourne relocated and became the Sydney Swans operating out of Sydney in 1982, I had a team to call my own and my love for AFL increased tenfold.

So, to be in Melbourne recently for a footy weekend on a domestic holiday I had the opportunity to witness my first-ever AFL game live at the MCG, which is one of the world’s greatest stadiums.

Melbourne Cricket Ground
© Daniel Resnik

Where is the MCG?

The Melbourne Cricket Ground was built in 1853 and established by the Melbourne Cricket Club. Today, locals know it as the ‘G’. The iconic Australian sports stadium is in Yarra Park, Melbourne.

It’s a place where many records have been broken, but the MCG breaks a few records of its own. The MCG is the largest stadium in the Southern Hemisphere and the 11th largest sports arena in the world.

The MCG is within walking distance of the CBD and is part of the Melbourne Sports and Entertainment Precinct. It’s a pity Sydney never got the blueprint on how to design a city. Melbourne has got the formula down perfectly as its main attractions are easy to get to and in convenient locations.

Game on

As we walk closer to the Melbourne Cricket Ground my expectation and excitement levels are running high. This will be my first time inside the legendary hallowed ground and my first live AFL match at the MCG. What makes it even more exciting is that the teams competing are two of Australia’s oldest and most well-known AFL franchises and foundation clubs: Hawthorn and Carlton.

I can remember quite a few years ago when I was in England and was nearing the entrance to Old Trafford, Manchester United’s world-famous football stadium, to see the ‘red devils’ play archrivals, Liverpool. The feeling I had that day was what I was experiencing now being in the confines of the MCG. You just know you’re in a very sacred and elite sporting arena.

Melbourne is well-known for being a sports-mad city. I spend the walk to the ground listening to the humorous vitriol banter amongst fans of the opposing teams. It’s very entertaining to say the least. Not backing either team allows me to absorb the atmosphere of the day rather than be hung up on who wins.

Spiritual and historical, the ghosts of the past 168 years of AFL history at the MCG and a lifetime of memorable footballing highlights seem to swirl around the stadium . Ot’s every bit as exciting as I’ve ever imagined it would be.

Melbourne Cricket Ground

Wine and dine at the MCG

To enhance our day even more, we are dine in at the Tom Wills Dining room. Here we experience fine dining whilst watching the game from an excellent vantage point. We sit back and watch the game play out, all the while sipping some of Melbourne’s finest wine and premium beverages.

Our lunch starts with a 12-hour cooked high country pork with apple, mustard gel, red pepper crumb and calvados jus. Then, mains are served: mizo glazed Tasmanian Salmon with sweet & sour Kohirabu, roasted zucchini, and herb essence.

At quarter-time platters of chocolate delights roll out. Half-time sees a parade of treats including party pies, sausage rolls, and pasties. Then follows even more platters of fresh scones, cream and jam. All of these treats have me wishing I was out in the center of the MCG running off the added kilos of my extremely ravenous yet blissful lunch!

To watch from the dining room is a fabulous way to experience the game but to really feel the impact I needed to be outside amongst the supporters to soak up the excitement and atmosphere. There’s nothing like being one of the crowd absorb the energy of such an exciting, fast and tough game .

Melbourne Cricket Ground

The outcome

The game was a close encounter between two long-term opponents.

Carlton led for most of the game, but Hawthorn put up a memorable effort to try and peg them back. In the end, the mighty Carlton football team won the contest.

It’s a pity that both these illustrious teams were well down the ladder this season, otherwise I’m certain a game of this magnitude would’ve filled the stadium. As it was, there were close to 50,000 fans in attendance and the noise they generated made it feel as if the ground was at full capacity.

My first AFL match at the MCG was a thrilling experience and one that will be carved into my sports memory for a long time to come.

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