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 liveable city has truly been a blessing. But growing up under those bright lights of the MCG, now that’s a gift.