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.
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 relocating 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.
|291||Gary Ablett Sr|
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.
|14 1989||Gary Ablett Sr||Geelong v Richmond|
|14 1990||John Longmire||North Melb v Melbourne|
|14 1993||Gary Ablett Sr||Geelong v Essendon|
|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|
|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.
|nnn North Melbourne||350||175||5||170|
|ppp Port Adelaide||47||20||1||26|
|www West Coast||85||35||0||50|
|www Western Bulldogs||210||85||1||124|
|sss St Kilda||226||84||4||138|
|ggg Gold Coast||14||3||0||11|
|ggg Greater Western Sydney||18||3||0||15|
|bbb Brisbane Bears||26||3||0||23|
|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|
|1946 to 1990||MCG|
|1992 to 2019||MCG|
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.
|1989||Gary Ablett Sr|
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.
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:
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.
Prior to the 2016 season if the Grand Final resulted in a draw the game would be replayed the following week.
In such instances a separate Norm Smith Medal was awarded in each game.
Since 2016 a drawn Grand Final results in the use of extra time to determine the winner, rather than a full match replay.
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 2020 Gary Ablett Sr is the only former winner to decline presenting the award.