The Melbourne Cricket Ground

THE MELBOURNE CRICKET GROUND

Although the Melbourne Cricket Club members were instrumental in founding Australian Football, there were understandable concerns in the early days about the damage that might be done to the playing surface if football was allowed to be played at the ground; therefore football games were often played in the adjacent parklands.
The first documented game, played between Melbourne Grammar and Scotch College over three Saturdays beginning 7 August 1858, was played in this area.

In 1879 the first night game was played here, between Collingwood Rifles and East Melbourne Artillery.

In 1889 the Melbourne Cricket Club assumed total control of the Melbourne Football Club, moving its games from the separate ground to the MCG.

The first VFL game to be played here was on 15 May 1897, with Melbourne beating Geelong 64 to 19.

In 1902, the first VFL grand final was played here, with Collingwood defeating Essendon 60 to 27.

Opened in 1853, has a current official capacity of 100,024, making it the tenth largest stadium in the world

Despite being called the Melbourne Cricket Ground the stadium has been used much more often for Australian rules football.

Spectator numbers for football are larger than for any other sport in Australia, and it makes more money for the MCG than any of the other sports played there.

 The AFL came to an agreement that ensures at least 45 games are played at the MCG each year.

In April 2018 it was announced that ‘ The G ’ would continue to host the Grand Final until at least 2057.

The Grand Final has been played at the MCG every season since 1902, except in 1924 when no Grand Final was held because of the season's round-robin finals format; during World War II when the ground was used by the military; and in 1991, as the construction of the Great Southern Stand had temporarily reduced the ground's capacity below that of Waverley Park.
All three Grand Final Replays have been played at the MCG, in 1948, 1977, and 2010.

Before the ground was fully seated, the Grand Final could draw attendances above 110,000 (they are now typically between 95,000 and 100,000). The record for the highest attendance in the history of the sport was set in the 1970 VFL Grand Final, with 121,696 in attendance.

In the modern era, most finals games held in Melbourne have been played at the MCG. Under the current contract, ten finals (excluding the Grand Final) must be played at the MCG over a five-year period. Under previous contracts, the MCG was entitled to host at least one match in each week of the finals, which on several occasions required non-Victorian clubs to play "home" finals in Victoria.

AFL CLUBS @ ‘ THE G ’

Occupancy of the MCG is shared equally between football (April to September) and cricket (October to March), although by mutual agreement the sports’ controlling bodies may vary arrangements slightly from time to time.

The MCC has a long-term agreement with the AFL to schedule a minimum of 45 home‑and‑away matches annually, plus a minimum number of finals matches – including the grand final.

 

Essendon were briefly based at the MCG after shiting from Windy Hill in 1991, although administration and training were kept at Windy hill until 2013.

 

Richmond first proposed a move to the MCG in 1955 from Punt Road Oval when a remapping of the cities roads caused a big cut into the Punt Road Outer, and as a result it was thought the ground was unlikely to be able to host a decent crowd. The move was completed in 1960.

 

North Melbourne moved to the MCG in 1985 from Arden Street, while retaining training and administration at its traditional home. Its present status is somewhat nebulous, it has no contract at Docklands or the MCG, but plays all its Melbourne home games at Docklands.

 

Collingwood began to move to the MCG in 1994. By 1997, they were playing 9 games a year here, and by 1999, they were playing all their home games at the ground. They are presently a home team at the MCG, with the current contract requiring they play 14 games a season at the ground to make up for a loss of finals.

 

Hawthorn moved to the MCG in 2000 with the closure of Waverly Park. Other than games sold to Tasmania, Hawthorn remains a tenant at the MCG.

 

Carlton began playing blockbuster matches against the likes of Collingwood and Essendon at the MCG in the 80s and 90s, and while officially a tenant at Docklands, is contracted to play 5 games a year at the MCG.

STATISTICS

most games played
200 Kevin Bartlett
193 Scott Pendlebury
186 Dustin Fletcher
169 David Neitz
165 Nathan Jones
164 Wayne Campbell
163 Dane Swan
160 Travis Cloke
155 Sam Mitchell
155 Jordan Lewis
153 Matthew Knights
152 Adem Yze
152 Matthew Richardson
152 Luke Hodge
152 Jack Riewoldt
151 Steele Sidebottom
most goals scored
464 Matthew Richardson
461 Matthew Lloyd
386 David Neitz
380 Wayne Carey
379 Kevin Bartlett
342 Jack Riewoldt
334 Lance Franklin
329 Saverio Rocca
303 Travis Cloke
291 Gary Ablett Sr
289 John Longmire
269 Jarryd Roughead
265 Michael Roach
258 Garry Lyon
242 Russell Robertson
242 Norm Smith

At the end of the home-and-away season 2019, Matthew Richardson (Richmond) holds the records for having scored the most goals on the MCG, and Kevin Bartlett (Richmond) holds the record for playing the most matches at the ground.

most goals in a game
14 1993 Gary Ablett Sr Geelong v Essendon
14 1990 John Longmire North Melb v Melbourne
14 1989 Gary Ablett Sr Geelong v Richmond
13 1999 Matthew Lloyd Essendon v Sydney
12 1992 Jason Dunstall Hawthorn v Richmond
12 1992 Jason Dunstall Hawthorn v Essendon
12 1990 John Longmire North Melb v Richmond
12 1990 Gary Ablett Sr Geelong v Richmond
12 1987 Tony Lockett St Kilda v Melbourne
12 1941 Norm Smith Melbourne v Footscray
12 1935 Ted Freyer Essendon v Melbourne
12 1933 Bob Johnson Melbourne v Hawthorn
12 1931 George Margitich Melbourne v North Melb
most disposals in a game (1965-2019)
54 2018 Tom Mitchell Hawthorn v Collingwood
53 2012 Gary Ablett Jr Gold Coast v Collingwood
51 2019 Lachie Neale Brisbane Lions v Richmond
50 2017 Tom Mitchell Hawthorn v Collingwood
49 2012 Dane Swan Collingwood v Hawthorn
48 2009 Dane Swan Collingwood v Port Adelaide
48 1981 Peter Featherby Geelong v Melbourne
48 1980 Greg Wells Melbourne v Fitzroy
46 1980 Robert Wiley Richmond v Carlton
45 2011 Dane Swan Collingwood v Essendon
45 2008 Matt Priddis West Coast v Hawthorn
45 2008 Peter Burgoyne Port Adelaide v North Melb
45 2006 Scott West Western Bulldogs v Adelaide

Two players have scored 14 goals in one match at the MCG: Gary Ablett Sr (Geelong) in 1989 and 1993, and John Longmire (North Melbourne) in 1990, who kicked a North Melbourne record of twelve goals against Richmond, which he broke twelve weeks later when he kicked fourteen goals in round 14 against Melbourne.

games at the melbourne cricket ground (1897-2019)
Team Played Won Drawn Lost
eee Essendon  475 269 9 197
hhh Hawthorn  364 209 1 154
rrr Richmond  729 402 8 319
ggg Geelong  335 180 1 154
ccc Collingwood  636 336 8 292
mmm Melbourne  1218 625 9 584
nnn North Melbourne  350 175 5 170
ccc Carlton  432 201 5 226
fff Fitzroy  165 72 2 91
ppp Port Adelaide  47 20 1 26
sss Sydney  229 94 2 133
www West Coast  85 35 0 50
www Western Bulldogs  210 85 1 124
aaa Adelaide  73 29 1 43
sss St Kilda  226 84 4 138
fff Fremantle  53 18 0 35
bbb Brisbane  52 15 1 36
ggg Gold Coast  14 3 0 11
ggg Greater Western Sydney  18 3 0 15
bbb Brisbane Bears  26 3 0 23
grand final venues (1897-2019)
year grand final venue
1897 No grand final
1898, 1899 Junction Oval
1900 East Melbourne Cricket Ground
1901 Lake Oval, Albert Park
1902 to 1923 MCG
1924 No grand final
1925 to 1941 MCG
1942, 1943 Princes Park
1944 Junction Oval
1945 Princes Park
1946 to 1990 MCG
1991 Waverley Park
1992 to the present MCG

THE NORM SMITH MEDAL

 Named in honour of Norm Smith, a former six-time premiership coach for Melbourne, is an award presented annually to the player adjudged the best on ground in the Grand Final.

It was first presented in the 1979 VFL Grand Final, and was won by Wayne Harmes, playing in Carlton's premiership victory against Collingwood.

norm smith medal winners (1979-2019)
Year Recipient Club
1979 Wayne Harmes
1980 Kevin Bartlett
1981 Bruce Doull
1982 Maurice Rioli
1983 Colin Robertson
1984 Billy Duckworth
1985 Simon Madden
1986 Gary Ayres
1987 David Rhys-Jones
1988 Gary Ayres
1989 Gary Ablett Sr
1990 Tony Shaw
1991 Paul Dear
1992 Peter Matera
1993 Michael Long
1994 Dean Kemp
1995 Greg Williams
1996 Glenn Archer
1997 Andrew McLeod
1998 Andrew McLeod
1999 Shannon Grant
2000 James Hird
2001 Shaun Hart
2002 Nathan Buckley
2003 Simon Black
2004 Byron Pickett
2005 Chris Judd
2006 Andrew Embley
2007 Steve Johnson
2008 Luke Hodge
2009 Paul Chapman
2010 Lenny Hayes
2010 Scott Pendlebury
2011 Jimmy Bartel
2012 Ryan O'Keefe
2013 Brian Lake
2014 Luke Hodge
2015 Cyril Rioli
2016 Jason Johannisen
2017 Dustin Martin
2018 Luke Shuey
2019 Dustin Martin

the award

The award is usually won by a player on the winning team in the Grand Final; only four players have received the award as members of the losing teams: Maurice Rioli in 1982, Gary Ablett Sr. in 1989, Nathan Buckley in 2002 and Chris Judd in 2005.

Four players, Gary Ayres (1986 and 1988), Andrew McLeod (1997 and 1998), Luke Hodge (2008 and 2014), and Dustin Martin (2017 and 2019) have each won the award twice.

The club with the most Norm Smith Medal wins is Hawthorn, with eight awards won by players representing the team.

voting

The winner is voted on by a five-member panel consisting of former players, journalists and media personalities, with one member designated as the chair.

Each panellist independently awards 3 votes, 2 votes and 1 vote to the players they regard as the best, second best and third best in the match respectively. These votes are tallied, and the highest number of combined votes wins the medal.

There is no chance of a tie for the medal; if two players are tied for votes, the following countbacks will apply in order:

  1. the player with the higher number of three-votes
  2. the player with the higher number of two-votes
  3. the player deemed best by the panel chair

In some years judges were required to lodge their decisions prior to the completion of the match, to ensure votes were compiled in time for the ceremony.

This was changed following the 2002 AFL Grand Final, after Michael Voss had five crucial possessions in the last five minutes of the close game which could have swayed the voting, but eventually placed fourth behind Nathan Buckley.

After the match, three of the five judges suggested they would have voted differently if they had lodged their votes after the final siren.

presentation

The medal is presented in a post-match ceremony held immediately after the conclusion of the match. Since 2004, former Norm Smith medallists have presented the award, in the order of the year in which they won; as of 2017, Gary Ablett Sr. is the only former winner to decline presenting the award.

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