Norm Smith Oration
Wednesday June 3, 2015
In welcoming members and guests to the fifth Norm Smith Oration, Tim Lane noted the year of this event had special significance, being the centenary year of Norm’s birth and also the 50th year since the incredible mid-season upheaval which saw him sacked as coach of Melbourne and subsequently re-instated.
Before introducing the evening’s guest speakers, Tim reflected on Norm Smith’s football achievements, his success in coaching Melbourne to six premierships and four more as a player, which is why Norm is regarded as a legend of the Melbourne Football Club and of Australian football.
In his toast to football, Gerard Healy spoke of his passion for our indigenous game, the game we all love, at the ground we all love, the MCG. From around the age of 10, Gerard began to realise how important this game was not only to him, but to those around him.
This included Father Oliver, who also happened to be coach of the St Joseph’s under 11 side. He was not interested in Gerard confessing two weeks worth of sins, but more interested in him getting a kick and the team winning – it had been two weeks since either happened!
Gerard told of his boyhood dreams to one day play for St Kilda and his big dream, to play State of Origin for Victoria. Although the former didn’t happen at St Kilda, he did play seven years at Melbourne Football Club and went on to represent Victoria 12 times.
There were a number of influential players Gerard looked up to, including Darrel Baldock, Royce Hart, Peter McKenna and Alex Jesaulenko but perhaps the biggest role model for 10-year-old Gerard was Patty O’Shea. Not a professional footballer, but a 12-year-old who dominated the local kick-to-kick, it was Patty’s ability to kick the prefect torpedo on both feet which influenced and changed Gerard’s daily training routine and also his professional routine.
Gerard spoke of the “magicians” in the game, a rare commodity, only seeing a few each year. He spoke of his admiration for Peter Daicos, the personification of the player he wanted to be as a young boy, the ultimate magician of football of his time. Gerard was honoured to have played with those rare few who had the magic: Gary Ablett Snr, Simon Madden, Garry Wilson and Darren Jarman. Some of today’s magicians in Gerard’s view include Buddy Franklin, Nat Fyfe, Cyril Rioli and Marcus Bontempelli.
Throughout his playing career Gerard’s philosophy was always the same - win it as many times as you can and try to do something clever with it. The fitter you became the more times you got it, the harder you practiced, the closer you got to the magic.
In raising his glass, Gerard gave a toast to the “magicians of football” and to football.
In his response, Western Bulldogs president Peter Gordon started by listing two reasons why he shouldn’t be speaking this evening. One was his complete lack of football ability and nous and the second was that he grew up with a robust, larrikin disdain of the MCC members stand and the people who sat in it...thankfully this was followed by rapturous laughter from the audience!
With a self-proclaimed lack of any skills or football ability, Peter recalled many fond memories of his time spent sitting in the outer at the MCG. Pictures of Norm Smith in that trench coat on grand final day, memories of EJ Whitten’s emotional trip around the MCG and Barassi running out for his first premiership as coach.
A passionate Footscray supporter from a young age, Peter reflected on growing up in the Western suburbs, riding his bike to watch the Bulldogs train and cheering the boys on. Although his dad had many cricket stories, there was only one football reference he ever made to the MCG and that was of a Footscray player called Merv Hobbs who had taken one of the greatest marks of all times on the ‘G in the 1961 preliminary final against Melbourne.
A photograph of Merv’s mark was placed on the screens and then a very humble Merv stood to wave to guests from his table.
Peter’s passion for the game was highlighted when he recalled a story from a recent dinner with Western Bulldogs captain Rob Murphy, where both men were moved to confess to the table what they fantasised a twenty-first century Bulldogs premiership might look like. Peter was able to provide a kick-by-kick description of what the last quarter would look like, ending in a 28-point win over Hawthorn!
Rob’s fantasy was, according to Peter, a little more poetic with the Bulldogs song being sung while walking the cup to Footscray Town Hall and finally to Whitten Oval all with a picturesque sun setting in the background.
In closing, Peter reflected on how much a part of his life and the lives of so many people, the MCG is. It is a part of our past and a part of who we are. The MCG is a field which belongs to us all and to which we all belong.
MFC/MCC Game Day Function
Saturday May 16, 2015
The first MFC/MCC Game Day Function for season 2015 was held prior to the Hawthorn v Melbourne match on Saturday May 16.
Our new host for the day, Russell Robertson did an outstanding job replacing our previous host of many years, Stephen Phillips, who sadly passed away earlier this year. A touching tribute was ready by Robbo acknowledging Stephen’s contribution to these functions since their inception.
With nearly 150 members and guests in attendance, the room had a fantastic energy pre-match with some great interviews hosted by Robbo. Former Melbourne players, David Williams, David Flintoff, Steve O’Dwyer and Stephen Newport were in attendance on the day and all got the chance to say a few words.
The theme of the day was the old rivalry enjoyed by the two clubs, Hawthorn and Melbourne throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s and the former players in attendance shared some great stories of their era.
They also entertained those in attendance with talk of what footy was like in their day, noting the many differences in pre-match preparation, training, recovery and of course, the on-field battles and brutal encounters.
We also had Jack Viney address the crowd who were delighted to hear from him, but would much prefer to have seen him out on the ground.
Sadly the Hawks had taken control of the game by half-time but we are all looking forward to the next MFC/MCC Game Day Function on Saturday July 11 as the Demons take on the Bombers.
Comedy @ the 'G
Friday May 1, 2015
The first of this year’s Comedy @ the ‘G functions held in the Hans Ebeling Room was a sold out affair!
Held prior to the Carlton v Collingwood match, members and their guests enjoyed snack food and drinks before being entertained by some of Australia’s top comedians.
Compere and comedian, Ben Lomas kicked off the evening with his laid-back nature and style of comedy keeping the audience engaged and laughing before Monica Dullard took to the stage.
A talented stand-up comedian and whacky librarian from Fawkner, Monica was excited to be performing at the ‘G for MCC members. Always seated in the nose-bleed section high on Level 4 of the Southern Stand, she often wondered ‘how the other half lived’ and enjoyed not getting vertigo on Level 2 of the members reserve!When ex-country football player Troy Carrington – aka Damian Callinan – took to the stage guests were wondering what this inarticulate country boy would have to say. When recounting stories of his football hey-day and pre-season bonding activities, Troy revealed a much more culturally sensitive persona particularly when talking of a post-season footy trip to Prague to follow the Mozart trail! The laughs kept coming when Troy told of the effectiveness of referencing Shakespeare to put your opponent off during a match. Whoever thought Shakespeare could be referenced 'on thy football field'!
Bookings for our next Comedy @ the G event, to be held on July 31, will open on June 16.
Tickets are $50, inclusive of pre-game snack food and drinks, a reserved seat on Level 2 and a great night of comedy!
Young Members' Anzac Ball
Thursday April 23, 2015
Another Young Members’ Anzac Ball full of fabulous food and great entertainment was held in the Members Dining Room.
Nearly 400 members and guests enjoyed a three-course dinner, beverages and a packed dance floor as they celebrated the ninth Young Members’ Anzac Ball, this year hosted by Peter Lazer.
The highlight of the evening was Breanna Janson, a recipient of the Premier’s Spirit of Anzac prize for her award-winning poem.
A year 12 student from Nagle College in Bairnsdale, Breanna captivated the audience as she delivered a powerful and emotional poem which she had dedicated to her late great-grandfather.
With great poise, Breanna delivered the poem which captured the story of a young man who went to war, endured and witnessed many atrocities, to finally returned home and begin his life again.
The audience was both respectful and moved by her words and awarded her a round of applause at the conclusion of her address.
The remainder of the evening was full of fun, dancing and plenty of use of the selfie frame!
Don’t miss out on the next huge Young Members event to be held on Friday October 23.
MCC Members’ Lounge
Saturday January 10, 2015
The Jim Stynes Room was once again a hive of activity as MCC members and their guests descended on the MCG for another fantastic MCC Members’ Lounge on January 10.
More than 100 people enjoyed the top-class facilities and prime location of the Jim Stynes Room to take in the energy and excitement of the Stars v Renegades match, as the two Melbourne teams battled to take the points in their Twenty20 Big Bash League clash. The room was full of excitement as the game came down to the final ball with a controversial victory awarded to the Melbourne Stars.
Included in the function package were beverages, a delicious grazing menu and mouth-watering dessert station. Some lucky attendees also walked away with some great door prizes. These functions are a great way for members and guests to mingle with each other and enjoy a great night out in Melbourne.
Keep an eye out for further Members’ Lounge functions throughout the 2015 football season.
Women in Cricket Test Breakfast
Saturday December 27, 2014
This year’s Women in Cricket Test Breakfast hit record numbers with just under 450 members and guests in attendance. In wonderful surrounds, those in attendance were treated to a fantastic breakfast and entertainment.
Hosted once again by Angela Pippos, members and guests were treated to an interview with Southern Stars captain, Meg Lanning who gave a wonderful insight into the challenges of captaining the Australian women’s team and the tribulation of victory at last year’s World Cup.
This was followed by a frank and personal interview with Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland who spoke honestly about the difficult time surrounding the death of Phil Hughes. He paid particular gratitude to the Indian cricket team and administration for their patience and understanding throughout the uncertainty leading into the first test in Adelaide.
James also spoke passionately about Cricket Australia’s commitment to the promotion and development of the game for female participants. The success of the Southern Stars has no doubt helped increase the profile of women’s cricket at the elite level and with over 200,000 female participants at the grass roots level, which is about 22% of the game’s total participants; women’s cricket is looking strong. The challenge that Cricket Australia now face is continued participation beyond the primary school years.
He concluded with a proud dad moment telling those in attendance about his daughter Annabel’s recent wicket haul in an U/15 match between Victoria and NSW where she took 5/2. Annabel, in the room, received a rousing applause.
Ravi Shastri took to the microphone just after breakfast and immediately had an impact. He answered questions with great passion, honesty and at times, humour.
He spoke about the young Indian team that is touring this year and how his message to them was to bring the right mindset to playing overseas. Shastri strongly believes that to play well whilst touring, a team must want to play overseas and embrace the country’s conditions. He said his young team an only learn from their experience this year.
Pippos posed the question as to whether the IPL was having a negative impact on the Indian Test team and that some members of the media believe it is more important to Indian cricket players than representing their country. Shastri was quick to defend that notion but did say that IPL was the injection the cricket needed. He said that it has brought a new audience to the game, both in attendance and in the media and in turn additional money to the game which Shastri says filters into the future development of test cricketers as well.
The function finished with its traditional auction to assist the WOMCC raise money for their 2015 charity and once again was well supported by those in attendance with over $4,500 raised.
We look forward to another great breakfast in 2015.
Boxing Day Breakfast
Friday December 26, 2014
On a brilliant sunny morning in Melbourne, 490 members and their guests attended the clubs traditional Boxing Day Breakfast in the Members Dining Room.
Hosted by affable former Test bowler Damien Fleming, the morning commenced with a visit from MCC Head Curator David Sandurski who gave us a pitch report prior to the biggest day on the MCG’s cricketing calendar. Comedian Rusty Berther and his trusty guitar then warmed the crowd up with his satirical songs and musings on test cricket.
After a wonderful cooked breakfast Richard Cashman, a professor at the University of Technology Sydney joined Damien on stage to give us an insight into his latest book, which is a wonderful recollection of the life and times of Fred ‘The Demon’ Spofforth, famous for taking the first-ever Test Match hat-trick at the MCG in 1879. Richard explained how the reaction to Spofforth’s hat-trick was not surrounded by the fan-fare that surrounds the accomplishment now, with the feat only being reported in the papers as purely a ‘‘three-wicket innings’’ from Spofforth.
The crowd was then to be regaled by our guest speaker for the morning, former Test-bowling great Glenn McGrath. The rapport between the former team-mates Fleming and McGrath set the scene for a wonderful Q & A segment. The pair took pleasure in reliving their cricketing accomplishments with a humorous slant, McGrath taking us through the morning he achieved his 300th test wicket and hat-trick in the same occasion at the WACA Ground against the West Indies.
Fleming made McGrath, who was never renowned for his batting ability; reflect on some of his greatest batting accomplishments as opposed to his bowling feats.
One of his favourite batting partnerships he explained was here at the MCG with Mike Hussey, where they put on 111 for the 11th wicket, Hussey making over 100 and Glenn contributing with a ‘’solid’’ 11. He gave us an insight into a batsmen’s dislike for seeing ducks anywhere prior to batting due to their unfortunate association with a score in cricket. One particular morning during a GABBA test match he was joined for a warm-up swim by the likes of Gilchrist, Clarke and Hayden, as well as bowling counterpart Jason Gillespie. After being greeted by a flock of ducks on the pool during their morning swim the batsmen were nervous it would mean a doomed day at the crease for them. As McGrath came in at 11 that day he then recounted as he went out to the middle seeing his team mates prepare to head out into the field on the change of innings, not having much faith in McGrath’s batting ability and the length of time he would spend at the crease. He then went on to make his maiden test-match fifty and a score of 61, batting with Jason Gillespie who also on that occasion made his maiden test-fifty. Glenn continued to look for ducks throughout his career believing they were a good-luck charm for him.
McGrath then gave a gentle ribbing to his batting colleagues being able to raise their bats on making 50, and 100 for recognition from the crowd. He couldn’t believe there was no tradition for the bowlers, no matter how many wickets they took. It was on an Ashes tour in England where the ‘’fast-bowling cartel’’ of McGrath, Fleming, Gillespie and Kasprowicz decided that the bowler would raise the ball in the air when taking a five-for which has remained into the game today, McGrath being the first to reach the achievement at Lords that tour.
Fleming questioned McGrath as to the batsmen who he used to target and try to get out every time he bowled against them. In particular one of his targets being Michael Atherton who he played against in 18 test matches and dismissed 19 times. He recalled the last time he played against ‘'Athers’’ in 2001 in what was Atherton’s retirement match at the Oval in England. As Atherton left the field that day being caught off the bowling of McGrath again, McGrath actually admitted to this time being the only time he felt sorry for a batsman on the field.
McGrath and Fleming then reflected on some of the lighter moments they had experienced on tour over the years, some wonderful stories touring with David Boon were the highlight.
McGrath then gave us his opinion on the current crop of young Australian fast bowlers coming through, such as Josh Hazlewood and Ryan Harris who he is particularly impressed with. McGrath talked of his immense pride to present Hazlewood with his Baggy Green in Brisbane at the previous Test Match.
In closing the crowd were given an insight into McGrath’s current involvement with the game and two things he said upon retirement he would never do, become a commentator and coach of which he is now doing both. McGrath also commented on his continued involvement with the McGrath Foundation, something very close to his heart.
Nine lucky attendees then received lucky door prizes at the conclusion of the Breakfast, taking home wine, chocolate gift packs and books.
The candour at which the mornings interviews were conducted meant the breakfast was again cemented as one of our most popular and enjoyable functions. We look forward to a fantastic function in 2015.
Monday December 15, 2014
On a warm night in Melbourne, 300 members attended the Members Dining Room for the club’s annual black-tie Members’ Dinner, our traditional welcome to the cricket season.
On completion of pre-dinner drinks and canapés in the Long Room, members were greeted by the beautiful sounds of the violin and classical guitar as they walked the red carpet in the Members Dining Room, which set a wonderful tone for the night’s proceedings.
Consummate professional and cricket aficionado, Tim Lane, hosted the evening’s proceedings which began with MCC Vice-President and Chairman of Cricket, David Crow proposing the loyal toast.
After a formal welcome from MCC President Paul Sheahan, entree was served among the thoughtful musings of many members who also were commencing the evening’s cricket trivia quiz at their tables.
Following entree, Cricket Victoria CEO Tony Dodemaide was invited to take the stage to propose the evening’s toast to cricket. Tony spoke of cricket and the opportunities it can provide, the games recent adaptability with the introduction of shorter forms of the game, and the entrenched sense of community cricket can foster – particularly given the challenging times most recently faced and the support networks throughout the cricket community which were exhibited during this time. He took us through the personal opportunities cricket has provided to him, from a young boy growing up in Melbourne’s outer suburbs playing grade cricket for Footscray, to being presented with baggy green cap number 343 in 1987, to serving as the Head of Cricket at the Marylebone Cricket Club which led to afternoon tea with Queen Elizabeth in the grounds of Windsor Castle. All of things eventuating through his devotion to the game of cricket and the pathways it has provided.
In a sentiment which resonated throughout the evening he proposed his toast to the essence of the spirit of cricket and reminded us all that through change, courage and respect is required whether on the sporting field or within communities.
The evening’s respondent to Dodmeaide’s toast was esteemed Indian cricket commentator Harsha Bhogle, who has been referred to as the “Richie Benaud” of Indian commentary. Tim Lane, having known and worked with Harsha extensively over his career, introduced him with a wonderful quipping of Harsha’s introduction to the commentary team 23 years ago when an ominously arranged late call up led to Harsha’s introduction to the Australian public through ABC Grandstand.
Harsha spoke of his emotional connection to Australia and the home-like feel it has for him on his visits here, mainly he believes due to the influence through his commentary partners, the likes of Kerry O’Keefe and Ian Chappell, who he credits as his inspired work ethic guru. Harsha engaged the crowd with his honest perceptions of cricket today. He believes with the strong emergence of competitions like the IPL, this has led to greater sense of community in the cricketing world, with many different individuals from across the globe drawn together by their love for cricket, yet having so much more in common despite cultural differences. He spoke of the resistance by some to the emergence of the short form game and passionately implored the crowd that while this form is different, it does not necessarily make it inferior. He encouraged viewers to open their minds to the newer aggressive styles, while not letting the history and passion of a day of Test match cricket change. He marvelled at the example this development of the game has had on someone like Steven Smith, whose shot selection through his highest test innings of 162 not out in Adelaide was a culmination of both tradition and emergence, in a beautiful Test match innings.
Harsha closed by echoing Tony’s sentiments from earlier in the night. Cricket has stood up as a sport
, and a necessity in our communities like never before in the recent weeks where it has been faced by one of its greatest tragedies. It has been invigorated and learnt to move forward with a wonderful renewed courage and respect for competitors and spectators, whether in the international arena or on a make-shift pitch in Mumbai, leaving us with the thoughts that the spirit of cricket must be embraced in all forms of the game for its ongoing success.
All attendees thoroughly enjoyed the insight both Tony and Harsha were able to provide and we now look forward to a fantastic Boxing Day Test.