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  • hydesollie

Bucket List

I can’t claim to know Taylor Swift. And she certainly does not know me.


If we passed each other in the street, I wouldn’t recognize her. The reverse is equally true.


Apparently, she is a musician of some renown, though I could not name a single song of hers.


However, photos, taken very recently in Australia, don’t lie. Images abound of a cavalcade of fans flocking to the country’s most venerated stadium. To view a remarkable talent at the height of her powers. Even those not able to join the 96,000 officially in attendance are far from dismayed. Instead, they cram together on the outside concourse. Dressed to the nines, they sing their hearts out.

Its phenomenal stuff, at a cathedral of dreams. At one of the most iconic venues in the world.


The Melbourne Cricket Ground. The MCG. Or, quite simply, the “G”.



 

I wander back in time. Two months ago.


December 26, 2023. Time to fulfil a promise made to my older son. Along with thousands of others, our family maneuvers through the bustling streets and lanes of the Melbourne city centre. Even more people pour out of the nearby Flinders Street railway station. The trams are packed, the paths along the adjoining Yarra River crowded. Everyone with one destination in mind. Keen to watch the “Baggy Greens”, the best cricket team in the world, take on Pakistan in the annual Boxing Day test.


Indeed, the massive structure represents not only the rich history of sport in Australia but, as the largest stadium in the Southern Hemisphere, is an architectural gem in its own right. Founded in 1853, it gains international recognition as host to countless drama filled, emotional contests. Cricket of course, but also Aussie Rules, rugby league, rugby union, and soccer. The Olympics and Commonwealth Games. Rock concerts. Not to mention a visit by Pope John Paul II.


Our visit is unforgettable.


Pre-match, the ever-growing crowd mills about on the concourse. The food trucks do a roaring trade. Jerseys, sweaters, and caps fly off the merchandise shop shelves. Alongside gates 2 to 6, various statues, of cricketing and AFL icons such as Bradman, Matthews, Bartlett and Warne, headline the Parade of Champions and Avenue of Legends. In the bowels of the stadium, a museum houses a vast collection of memorabilia and artefacts.


A partially retractable roof covers one of the main stands, offers protection from the elements. State of the art light towers and distinctive video scoreboards enhance the on-field action. Every seat provides a fantastic view. The anticipation builds steadily, the atmosphere breathtaking.


The specially named grandstands fill. The Great Southern Stand, the Ponsford Stand, the Olympic Stand. Each contributes to the ambiance. Also prominent are the crazies loosely contained in the notorious Bay 13, an all singing, all dancing mob fueled by a seemingly endless supply of beer and madcap energy.


10.37am. The game begins. If the remnants of Christmas rains linger and the afternoon forecast threatens storms, the pitch, a large checkerboard of various green squares, is still in magnificent condition. The host Aussies heavy favourites to pummel a young and inexperienced Pakistani squad.


Pakistan opts for a full-on pace attack, the bowlers soon engaged in a riveting battle with the home batsmen. From our vantage point high above, the deliveries too fast to follow with the naked eye. Still, the replay screens show the balls zipping in, jagging out, rearing up, quite literally spitting off the surface. The openers defend stoically.


Alas, for all their wonderful work, the visitors are equally wasteful. Concede unnecessary runs by sending down several wides and leg byes, fumbling an absolute dolly of a slip catch, and booting several routine groundballs.


Lunch complete, play recommences in the early afternoon. However, dark clouds soon swoop in from the south. With the first drops of rain, the ground crew slowly drags out the covers.


The drizzle continues. A good portion of the crowd head for home, but we stay. Take a perverse delight in watching groups of youngsters stack empty yellow fried chicken buckets into large pyramids before happily kicking them down. Enjoy the non-stop chanting and antics in Bay 13. Chuckle at a message on the scoreboard. “Play Halted. Rain Delay” it announces, even as the sprinkles stop, any surface water evaporates and the field is bathed in early evening sunlight.


Eventually, the players and umpires emerge. Play resumes.


By 7.07pm, it is all over. Honours even is my assessment of the action. Pakistan, as rank underdogs, even allowing for some sloppy errors, battle bravely.


Grudgingly, we exit.



On the way out, I ponder the MCG, its undeniable aura, and its special place in Australian history and culture. Consider a leading journalist’s description of the stadium as “a shrine, a citadel, a landmark and a totem.” It is all that, and more.


And I contemplate Taylor Swift’s remarks in the wake of her own visit to the “G”. She is positively gushing, her reverence obvious. Overjoyed to have performed in front of a massive audience, her biggest ever.


And so, maybe, just maybe, Taylor Swift and I actually do have some sort of connection.


Both of us seduced by the sheer magic of the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Both of us with a bucket list item now crossed off.



Editor's note:

Australia eventually win this match by 79 runs, but not before a spirited run chase by Pakistan on Day 4 of the test.

 

 

 

1 則留言


jerome.c.foenander
2月27日

Great piece Hydes. This brings back so many memories for me. Thank you for covering the majesty and mystique of Boxing Day at The ‘G’.

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