Posted: 12/29/2010


       It's one of the great sports stadiums in the world the MCG, Melbourne Cricket Ground, know by the locals as The G.

       It has had crowds of up to 120,000 for Aussie Rules Football, which is the nation's best supported sport and the best supported club team is Collingwood Football Club which plays its home games there. The 1956 Olympic Games Opening and Closing Ceremonies, the athletics and the soccer finals were held there as well as 115,000 for an exhibition baseball game and many World Cup preliminary mtches and the 2006 Commonwealth Games.

      The city boasts other famous 'Rules clubs such as Essendon, Geelong, Hawthorne, St. Kilda, Richmond, North Melbourne, Melbourne,and Western Bulldogs.

      I have been there three times including a few hours at an Australia v England Test match. Each trip I travelled there in Pan-Am's first class cabins as their guest and stayed at the Hilton Hotel, just across the Yarra River. It's a favourite city of mine and one time I was there during the annual Mumba celebrations, and I enjoyed taking the Dandedong tram and a visit to the Victoria Soccer Federation office in St. Kilda, and nearby some great Greek food. Melbourne probably has the biggest Greek population outside Greece.

      Dame Nellie Melba the world famous opera singer of the 1880's was born in Victoria and the city gave her her professional stage name. Melba toast was also named after her. The Australian cricket team were well and truly toasted by England in the 4th Test match and that means that the Three Lions retain The Ashes since they are 2-1-1 in the series with only next week's 5th Test in Sydney remaining.. Since they hold The Ashes, even if they lose in Sydney NSW they will still retain the tiny trophy.

       The Test Matches have been played between the two countries since 1882 and after England lost at the Oval in London that summer, the Sporting Times published a mock obituary. 'England cricket has died and will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia'.  Actually a small terracotta urn was presented to England captain Ivo Bligh by ladies from Melbourne with ashes of a bail maybe inside. It is very fragile and kept in the MCC Museum at Lords in England.

      A much larger Waterford crystal urn is usually presented to the winners after the end of the series,

    Losing by an innings and 187 runs with almost two days to spare is a big embarrasment for skipper Ricky Ponting and the nation. Usually we English watch the weather forecasts with special interest, hoping that rain may stop play and save or national team, but they are now on the up and up.

    There were 85,000 present on opening day but days 3 and 4 maybe just 10,000 England fans shouting and singing as members of The Barmy Army with Aussies staying away and prefering the beach or the back yard barbie.