MCG: My Cricket Ground

 

Sunday, September 9, 2007. Dad says it’s time to be christened.

I’m confused, he throws me my hand-me-down Geelong jumper and we get in the car. Dad stops in front of this massive construction, looks up and points.

He squeezes my hand and says: “Welcome to the MCG, the greatest sporting venue in the world.”

I’m only six, but it all starts making sense. I’m tagging along next to him, bustling through crowds full of supporters, blabbering on about which Ablett brother is better. I’m shuffling quickly, barely keeping hold of my dad’s blue and white wind-cheater, the one with the big white 27 on it that reminds me of Matthew Stokes…but he insists it’s Andrew Bews.

We take our seats, and then, it finally hits me. All the preparation, the build-up to this moment. Thousands of fans are cheering, screaming at the top of their lungs. All for what? And then it hits me again. The lush green grass, the realness of the moment and that bright red Sherrin.

And that’s when I was hooked.

I’ve seen some of the greatest sporting moments under those bright lights. Like Geelong’s premierships in 2009 and 2011, where we managed to sit in the cheer squad and front row and even touch the players after the game.

I saw Corey Enright kick the winning goal on the boundary in his 250th game against Richmond in 2013.

I saw the hundreds of snaps from Paul Chapman and the famous toe-poke from Matthew Scarlett in the 2009 Grand Final that only 100,000 people got to see live.

I watched Max Rooke kick start the Cats with THAT tackle on Raph Clarke in the opening minutes of the 2009 Grand Final and then dribble one through after the final siren.

I cried as I saw Mark ‘Bomber’ Thompson embrace each and every player after our grand final wins in 2007 and 2009. I held my breath as Jimmy Bartel kicked the winning point against Hawthorn in 2009 after the siren.

I even watched Tom Hawkins kick THAT goal after the siren to beat Hawthorn in 2012.

A lot of stuff seemed to happen after the final siren!

I saw many wins, great and small and few losses, which I am grateful for. I grew up watching the Cats at their best, in one of the greatest places to watch from in the world.

I also saw some of the most heartbreaking and scary moments at the MCG.

When Daniel Menzel did his knee in the Qualifying final against Hawthorn in 2011. He fell right in front of us – I was there at the MCG four years later when he made his amazing comeback.

I saw James Podsiadly dislocate his shoulder in the 2011 Grand Final and I watched on in silence.

And week after week I watched Joel Selwood take hit after hit and come off bleeding, each time worse than the last.

I watched quite a few Cats players get knocked down and carried off the hallowed turf of the MCG….but I saw even more take a hit, get up and keep going. Stronger, faster and harder than they’ve gone before.

But recently, I’ve been watching a different sport at the MCG.

My Dad and I ventured out to the MCG on a mild and sunny December 27th. Little did we know, we would see much more than just a test match.

Taking our seats in the MCC Members, three rows from the front, we didn’t have to wait long for Australia’s first breakthrough with the ball in hand.

The first catch we see lands straight in Joe Burns’s hands, after a beautiful delivery from Nathan Lyon.

Then along comes James Pattinson, who takes two wickets in two overs, which knocks over the West Indies top batting order in no time.

The fire doesn’t stop there, as another Victorian comes into the picture. Peter Siddle. Sids takes two wickets in two balls and almost takes a test hat-trick.

Dad and I end up seeing 6/91 off 43 overs, all in an afternoon’s play.

That was my first Boxing Day test, and like my first AFL game at the MCG, I will never forget it.

During this summer, Dad and have gone to a couple of Melbourne Stars Big Bash games. The atmosphere of those games is outstanding, no matter what the result. It’s such a family environment full of bright lights, fireworks, colour and noise. Not like test cricket one bit.

These holidays, I’m glad I got to see the other side of the MCG. The bright and sunny one that I’ve rarely experienced, as compared to the footy in the winter.

Growing up in the world’s most livable city has truly been a blessing. But growing up under those bright lights of the MCG, now that’s a gift.

About Anna Pavlou

Anna 'Pav' Pavlou is a current student and a born and bred Melburnian who has a passion for sport and sharing people's stories. She is an intern journalist for AFL VICTORIA and writes for The Roar, the Victorian Amateur Football Association (VAFA Media), the Mongrel Punt and is a Melbourne Cricket Club contributor. She also appears on North West FM 98.9 radio show. Most winter weekends you'll find her down at the Ross Gregory Oval in St Kilda, supporting Power House FC, who play in Division 2 in the VAFA. She works as the Division 2 writer for the VAFA. She completed work experience with 3AW Radio and has been published in The Age as well as with Carlton FC and Geelong Cats. Check out her website below for more sport pieces!

Comments

  1. Born in 1961 I have many enduring memories from the MCG, but one of the quirkier ones was after the 1976 grand final when I found one of those wooden yellow boxes which the Four & Twenty boys carried pies in. I had it for many years, but as with all “stuff” I dont know what happened to it.

  2. I remember it like it was yesterday…Cats v Kangaroos Qualifying Final.

    Cats won by a heap on their way to their drought breaking flag.

    A pretty good christening at “The People’s Church”.

    Nic Pav (Anna’s Dad)

  3. The MCG. The temple down the road. It is our Temple Mount; our St Peter’s Basilica; our Blue Mosque.
    Sacred ground for Australian sport and society – even if you have always lived far away – like me on the opposite side of the continent.
    At least I can say “veni, vidi, vici”
    You are lucky to have it as your local, Anna. We are planning to make our Hajj pilgrimage for a week at Easter. The Avenging Eagle and I plan to join you in the hoops on Easter Monday (a one off alliance) before wreaking vengeance on our oppressor the week after.
    In victory revenge; in defeat enmity.
    Keep worshipping (and writing) Anna.

  4. Always good to see your words on the Almanac site Anna. Looking forward to some very positive reports of Geelong games at the MCG this season.

  5. Luke Reynolds says

    Fantastic Anna. Isn’t the MCG wonderful, no matter the season or sport. Lost count how many times I’ve been there for cricket and footy, but every time I walk through the gates it feels special.

  6. Neil Drysdale says

    I’ve just read this and it is wonderful. Anna has a huge future ahead of her if she decides to enter sports journalism or any form of the written word. Start writing that book now as well!

  7. Well written Anna! Speaking of the indigenous code, I thought I’d mention the 2013 Preliminary Final, which loomed as the dirtiest of Hawthorn’s dozen successive losses to Geelong in an incredible run that commenced in Round 1, 2009, before the Hawks somehow extracted victory from the jaws of defeat. Had Varcoe’s shot not narrowly missed, who knows what would have occurred in extra time? What gilt edged drama at the people’s ground!
    Regards Jim

  8. My first memory of the might MCG is sitting in the MCC Ladies Stand for the 1964 GF. Still waiting to experience the euphoria of another Demons flag!

  9. Aidan Hammond says

    The G is good but the Oval is better:)

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