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Archives - President's Report

The below article was published in the July 2010 edition of the MCC News publication:

MCC president David MeiklejohnNow that another successful AFL season has concluded, the committee and the management team are taking the opportunity to draw breath before we launch into a busy season of cricket.

The club was very pleased to see the MCG draw bumper crowds during the football season, as it meant that everybody was a winner financially. 

Home teams received a $100,000 bonus payment each match in accordance with the agreement reached last year, and the AFL received a bonus payment of $250,000 to distribute to the clubs because attendances exceeded three million for the season.

The club as ground manager benefited from the general increase in revenue resulting from the 3.1 million patrons who enjoyed footy at the ’G in 2010.

It is easy to understand why so many clubs want to play in front of the large crowds at the MCG as often as possible.

The drawn Grand Final was a sensational game that drew more than 100,000 people and the Members Reserve was comfortably full.  The reserved seating/walk-up seat balance again worked well. 

Members did not know who would be playing when they entered the ballot for reserved seats, so many non-grand final team supporters returned their tickets.  These were quickly taken up by those on the waiting list and on match day many Collingwood and St Kilda fans among our membership who had missed out on reserved seats were lined up when the gates opened at 8.00am.

The replay did not have the tight finish of the previous week but I know that this mattered little to the Collingwood supporters.  Our Reserve was not as full but the overall crowd at the ground was again substantial. 

I congratulate Stephen Gough and his team on the outstanding job they did in preparing the ground for the replay within the limited time available.  I must say, however, that many of us were starting to suffer from finals fatigue.

In congratulating Collingwood on its first flag in 20 years, we must also acknowledge the achievement of St Kilda in playing in three grand finals in two years.  Few other clubs have achieved that feat.  The success of the Magpies bodes well for MCG attendances next year as does the improvement shown by other MCG tenant clubs, particularly Melbourne.

As reported previously we have a number of exciting projects in train. 

The $55 million project to update and improve parts of the Great Southern Stand is expected to start in the middle of next year and work on a water recycling facility in Yarra Park will commence soon.  Our contribution to these two projects is more than $40 million, which we will fund by increasing our current debt levels.

On a less positive note, we are still experiencing behaviour problems in the Reserve and severe penalties have been handed down for a wide range of offences.  The main message is that members are responsible for the behaviour of their guests.  If they transgress, you are the one who is punished.

We held our Annual General Meeting in August and I congratulate Jane Nathan, Stephen Spargo and Steven Smith on being re-elected for another three years.  We are indeed fortunate to have a very competent committee to oversee the operations of our club and the MCG.

We now turn our attention to cricket and there is nothing better than an Ashes tour to stimulate interest over the coming summer.  I know that members will take advantage of the various cricket events on offer at the MCG this season and I look forward to catching up with many of you in the Reserve.

As this is the final newsletter for 2010, I take the opportunity to wish all members a safe, happy and prosperous festive season and look forward to another tremendous year in 2011.

David Meiklejohn AM  

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The below article was published in the July 2010 edition of the MCC News publication:

We are now heading towards the end of the 2010 AFL season and are looking forward to an exciting finals series and possibly another record attendance. Our home teams are drawing good crowds and we look set to have a strong showing of Victorian teams at the top of the ladder.

We are pleased to now be providing an increased financial contribution to Victorian football clubs at the MCG in accordance with our agreement with the AFL, the State Government and the MCG Trust.

The new arrangements meant that we contributed an additional $5.1 million to teams playing home games at the MCG in 2009 and we expect at least that amount will be available for distribution in the 2010 season.

Despite this new substantial commitment, our accounts demonstrate that we continue to be in a strong financial position.  Our cash flows are strong and our members continue to contribute substantial funds for ground development projects.

However, we do have a substantial debt level to both service and repay and the committee keeps a close eye on spending commitments.

Members continue to support our new facilities with enthusiasm, particular our dining rooms.  We are pleased with the popularity of the Members Dining Room, which is often the subject of a ballot for a table on match day. Overall, however, there are many dining and entertainment options in the Reserve and I hope you can take advantage of the various offerings.

The Great Southern Stand and Yarra Park projects are both still in the planning stages and we are confident work will start on the park’s water recycling facility before the end of the year.

We farewelled two fine MCC people in May. You’ll read about Clive Fairbairn elsewhere in this newsletter, but I would like to record my personal appreciation of Clive as a fellow committeeman for many years and as a great friend of the club and a champion of MCC cricket.

Another Hans Ebeling Award winner, Ian Woodham, also passed away.  Ian was the popular and hard-working chairman of the MCC Bowls Section during that very difficult period in the mid-nineties when the bowlers were asked to relocate from the MCG.  Happily the move has been a great success.

On a personal note, I was very pleased to be involved with the dinner held on May 29 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Hockey Section founding in 1960. Having started playing hockey with the section in 1967, I was delighted to be part of the evening and to marvel at the success of the section which has grown from four teams when I started playing to an amazing 29 teams today.

Our cricketers also provided some good news, winning the First and Third XI flags in the Premier Cricket competition. It was a fine result, especially for captain-coach Adam Dale whose leadership and outstanding bowling were critical to the success of the Firsts.

In recent months much time, effort and expense has been put into Australia’s bid to host soccer’s World Cup, now for 2022. A key plank to the bid is to have the use of the MCG for a 10-week period in the middle of the AFL season.

Although we support the bid, we could not commit the ground to the soccer authorities without obtaining a release from the AFL for our commitment to provide the ground to the AFL for the full 2022 season. Once we gained this contractual release we signed up for the soccer.

Finally, our AGM is scheduled for August 12 and I hope to see many of our members there. I also look forward to catching up with you during the rest of the footy season and at the many functions at the ’G.

David Meiklejohn AM

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The below article was published in the August 2009 edition of the MCC News publication:

Members will no doubt be aware that the club lost one of its finest members with the passing of Donald Cordner in May. Few people could leave such a massive imprint on any institution and glowing tributes have come from far and wide.

Among many duties or interests within the MCC, Donald was a particularly strong supporter of the sporting sections. He was directly involved with football, tennis and squash and with the Sporting Sections Sub-committee.

In 1992 he was awarded the Hans Ebeling Award in recognition of his outstanding service to the sections and the following year he was honoured with Honorary Life membership. We’ve lost a great man.

Turning to current matters, as we move into the second half of both the calendar year and the AFL season, life continues to be very busy and interesting at the MCG.  The football crowds are holding up well and we enjoyed another soccer spectacular with more than 74,000 seeing Australia defeat Japan on June 17.

The National Sports Museum is in full operational mode and we are confident that our investment in this magnificent asset is well placed and will prove a winner for us and for the Australian tourism industry.  The ground hosted more than 2000 delegates for an international tourism seminar in June and we received very positive comments from the delegates about the MCG and the NSM as outstanding tourist destinations.

Following a change to club rules at last year’s Annual General Meeting (AGM), we no longer will post a copy of the annual report, containing the concise financial information, to members unless it is requested.  The annual report is available on the website and the full audited accounts can also be provided to any member on request.

The accounts demonstrate that we continue to be in a sound financial position. However, we cannot lose sight of the fact that we have a substantial debt commitment to both service and repay in the years ahead.

On committee matters, I congratulate David Crawford, our new vice-president, new treasurer Michael Andrew and new committee member Karen Wood on their appointments.  Your committee has substantial responsibilities in managing both the club and the MCG and I am pleased that we have the benefit of contributions from a very talented and experienced group.

Our AGM is scheduled for August 17 and I hope to see many of our Full members there.  In the meantime, I look forward to catching up with members at the matches and functions at the ‘G, particularly as we head into the AFL finals.

David Meiklejohn

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The below article was published in the December 2008 edition of the MCC News publication:

As we head towards the end of 2008 we look back on another amazing and successful year of cricket, football and special events at the ’G.

The AFL home and away matches were attended by about 2.3 million fans and we were particularly pleased to see Victorian teams at the top of the ladder.

As a consequence we hosted seven finals, including both preliminary finals and the grand final, adding another 500,000 to the attendance total. This gave us 2.8 million for the season, up on 2.5 million last year.

The grand final crowd exceeded 100,000 and we congratulate Hawthorn on their premiership victory. The Members Reserve was at capacity but reports suggest that members enjoyed their day in reasonable comfort.

I am pleased to note that incidents of inappropriate behavior in the Reserve fell markedly during the football season. There were still several unsavoury matters dealt with – often involving members’ guests – but I am confident that our campaign to improve behaviour standards is having a positive impact.

There was more good football news when we opened the Australian Football Hall of Fame in August. This is an outstanding tribute to the game’s greats and a real coup for the National Sports Museum. We were delighted when the AFL agreed to relocate the hall of fame and it is a fine addition to the museum’s wide range of attractions.

So, too, are the Pepper’s Ghost exhibitions featuring James Hird and Shane Warne. These are world-class productions utilising technology to bring two of our finest sportsmen “into the room”, as it were.

Visitors are enthralled by the intimacy of the experience and I highly recommend it to members. The Sport Australia Hall of Fame, now an integral part of the NSM, inducted seven new members in October and the exposure this brings to the museum will be increasingly valuable in the years ahead.

Members will be interested to know that we have commissioned a portrait of one of the club’s most infl uential and popular presidents, Frank Grey Smith.

Although we do have a small photograph of Frank in the Long Room and he has been recognised in the naming of the Frank Grey Smith Bar, we thought it appropriate to have another tangible reminder of this man who guided the club through a very difficult financial period in the late-1890s.

Finally, as this is the last newsletter for 2008, I wish all members and their families a safe and happy festive period and hope to see many of you at the cricket in the months ahead.

David Meiklejohn


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The below article was published in the July 2008 edition of the MCC News publication:

We have had an impressive start to the 2008 football season with some great matches, great crowds and average attendances well ahead of last year. Although we are sure that the improved facilities we are now offering to our members and the public is a factor, there is no doubt that the success of some of our Victorian teams is attracting big crowds to the ‘G.

A consequence of our success, however, is that it is difficult to predict crowd numbers and patronage of facilities, particularly in the Members Reserve. This in turn influences decisions on how many visitors we should admit to the Reserve on big games.

If we get it right the Reserve can be comfortably full, but if we don’t we can have obvious blocks of empty seats which could have been filled either by people on our waiting list or by more visitors. We keep this matter under continual review to try to ensure the right balance.

An example of this issue can be illustrated by the situation in the Reserve for the Western Bulldogs–Brisbane clash on June 14 where the percentage of MCC members who barrack for either team is very low. Both the Members Dining Room and the Committee Room were booked out in advance for luncheon and the Long Room and Frank Grey Smith Bar were both very well patronised.

Certainly these facilities are always extremely popular with members but the Bulldogs don’t normally pull big crowds into the Reserve and Brisbane has a limited support base here. Against that, however, the Victorian side was doing very well and the Lions had won their last four matches.

Perhaps members who didn’t support either side decided to take the opportunity to experience the dining room and the Reserve on a relatively quiet day, or they were just looking to attend what promised to be a great match.  Whatever the reason, we were pleased with the popularity of the match with members as it highlights to us how well our new amenities have been received and how strongly they continue to be patronised.

On this theme, I am pleased to report that virtually all of our MCC functions this year have been booked out. It is a similar story for the Kevin Sheedy luncheon on July 1, the Olympic Games Luncheon on July 8 and the Bradman Luncheon on August 27, which is being held on the 100th anniversary of The Don’s birth.

On the subject of functions, I encourage members to book the various rooms for private purposes on non-event days. It is your club, so please enjoy it to the full.

Our membership staff are constantly monitoring patronage of the facilities in the Reserve and adjusting operations to improve the comfort and enjoyment of the day for members.  The changes to the Frank Grey Smith Bar have certainly eliminated the overcrowding and behaviour problems we had last season.

On the question of behaviour, we are generally happier with the conduct of members and their guests in the Reserve this year. Unfortunately we do continue to have some incidents and the committee will continue to impose severe penalties on members who transgress or allow their guests to behave in an inappropriate manner.

Overall, however, the committee is pleased with the operations and patronage of the Reserve. We have introduced reserved seats at some major matches and have also invited waiting list members to experience a day in the Reserve at selected games.

Attendances are strong, our financial position remains sound and, notwithstanding the perennial issues we have with dress standards and behaviour, the feedback we are receiving from our members is extremely positive.

David Meiklejohn