The Melbourne Cricket Club (MCC) tonight announced that a statue of legendary Melbourne Football Club player and coach Norm Smith will be placed outside the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) next year as part of the Australia Post Avenue of Legends series.
Appropriately, the announcement was made to more than 300 MCC and MFC members at the inaugural Norm Smith Oration in the Members Dining Room at the MCG.
The function reprises the legacy of the champion player and coach, who is a Legend in the Australian Football Hall of Fame.
The statue of the six-time premiership coach is the second in the Australia Post Avenue of Legends project, which will see a minimum of five statues placed in Yarra Park during the next five years, extending from the MCC members entrance up an avenue towards Wellington Parade.
The first statue in the series, which will feature Australian and Victorian cricketing legend Shane Warne, was announced during last year’s Boxing Day Test at the MCG.
“It is fitting that we announce Norm Smith as the second statue in the Australia Post Avenue of Legends series at an occasion that honours Norm’s legacy,” said MCC vice-president Stephen Spargo.
“In a time when the coach was considered to be an evangelist, he was an innovative and inventive strategist, manager, mentor and marketer, a forerunner of today’s multi-faceted coach.”
"Norm Smith’s skill as a player and coach made him a true Australian sporting icon, someone whose reputation extends beyond their own code,” said Ahmed Fahour, Managing Director and CEO of Australia Post. “He is a worthy addition to the Australia Post Avenue of Legends series.”
Selection criteria for the Australia Post Avenue of Legends series dictates that candidates must be Australian, renowned for their sportsmanship and that they or their sport played is connected with the MCG.
The remaining statues in the Australia Post Avenue of Legends series will be announced in due course.
Smith and Warne will join 10 other sporting greats with statues already outside the MCG:
Cricketers Sir Donald Bradman, Keith Miller, Bill Ponsford and Dennis Lillee, Australian Rules footballers Ron Barassi, Leigh Matthews, Dick Reynolds and Haydn Bunton and athletes Shirley Strickland and Betty Cuthbert.
About Norm Smith
Norm Smith was a talented player and the Melbourne Football Club’s greatest coach.
But more than that, he represents an era of football that did much to form the modern game.
He came from a poor background and drove himself to the top of his sport.
He was a canny yet brilliant full forward during a 227-game career with Melbourne (210 games) and Fitzroy (17) between 1935 and 1950 that included 572 goals.
He played in four premierships at Melbourne (1939, 1940, 1941 and 1948), winning two best and fairest awards and was leading goal kicker on four occasions.
He captained Melbourne (1945-47) and Fitzroy (1949-50) and twice represented Victoria.
He took that talent from the field into the coaches box. He expected no less from his players than what he had expected from himself – integrity and purpose, drive and putting the team ahead of the individual.
He led Melbourne through its most successful era, winning six premierships (1955, 1956, 1957, 1959, 1960 and 1964) before he was sacked – and reinstated – in 1965.
After leaving Melbourne in 1967 he coached South Melbourne from 1969 to 1972.
He was named full forward and coach in Melbourne’s Team of the Century and was given the ultimate honour of coach of the AFL Team of the Century.
Since 1980, the best player in the grand final receives the Norm Smith Medal.