The world sporting capital is a title which may be contested by many cities. Yet when it comes to Australian sports events there is only one city to rule the roost. Melbourne, the self proclaimed world’s sporting capital is never short of something to see.
As a frequent traveller I often visit Melbourne, in Victoria, Australia. On planning my trip I will try to figure out what is going on and what to see in the world sporting capital. For a well designed city centre the sporting events and venues are easy to get to. So what sports lead me to ask “What is on in Melbourne today?”
Melbourne is the global home to AFL (Australian Football League) otherwise known as “Aussie Rules”. For every AFL fan this is certainly the world sporting capital. The game grew up here with the first clubs established in the mid-1800’s. The Melbourne Football Club was formed on 7th August 1858. Soon after other big rivals such as Carlton, Collingwood and Essendon all formed and took names from suburbs of the city.
Games take place over the weekend and Melbourne often hosts these popular games at either the famous MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground) or the modern stadium near the Docklands, currently sponsored as The Etihad Stadium.
Australian Grand Prix
The biggest global motor racing season gets under way in the sporting capital of the world. In March of each year travelling fans of Ferrari and other big name car makers descend on Albert Park which is part of the way to the beaches of St Kilda.
Originally starting in Phillip Island in 1928 this race has been held at various venues around Australia. In more recent times it was held on the long and straight streets of Adelaide yet in 1996 it moved to Melbourne and has resided there every since.
When it comes to sport, cricket is probably where Melbourne has historically stood out. Not so much for a local team but more for the venue. The Melbourne Cricket Ground, known to many as The MCG, or just “The G” to the locals is a sporting icon across the world. Able to hold 95,000+ it is the designated Boxing Day venue whenever there is an Ashes cricket tour in the country. It will also play host to the 2015 final of the cricket World Cup. Is there a more fitting tribute to the world sporting capital?
The MCG is not a single use stadium. It is host to many AFL matches, international series with Ireland (a compromise of Gaelic Football and Aussie Rules) plus football. In July 2013 over 95,000 fans packed out the MCG as Liverpool Football Club were in town to play a pre-season friendly match.
Flemington racecourse is host to “the race that stops a nation”. Or at least that is how the Australians call it. The Melbourne Cup festival spreads over a long weekend and culminates in the “Melbourne Cup” race held on the first Tuesday in November. It is such a big event that the city of Melbourne declares it as a public holiday whilst the Government in Canberra stop to watch the race. From 1880 to the present day there are often well over 100,000 people in attendance for the race.
Football, or as the locals call it “soccer” (since in Melbourne “football” means AFL) is now well established in the city. In recent years the national competition was reformed and branded as the A-League. Initially the city was given a franchise for one club, Melbourne Victory who are one of the most successful clubs to date winning the title twice (in 2007 and 2009). Then in 2010 a second Melbourne club, Melbourne Heart were admitted to the competition. Both teams play at the relatively new and impressive AAMI Park on Olympic Boulevard.
Rugby is a high profile sport with two codes and both are represented in the sporting city of Melbourne. Union is represented by the Melbourne Rebels in the Super Rugby competition whilst the Melbourne Storm compete in the NRL (National Rugby League). Both sides play at the AAMI Park.
The city is also host to big international rugby matches. Often host to international tests of both codes; in 2013 the city hosted one of the British Lions’ tests against Australia in rugby union. The city also famously has played host to one of the three State of Origin matches in recent years. This is in spite of the fact that Victoria is not one of the States competing in the fixtures.
The Olympic Boulevard along the Yarra River is a legacy of Melbourne hosting the 1956 summer Olympics. Now many stadia line this road include the Hi-Sense Arena and AAMI Park. However the road begins with Melbourne Park and the Rod Laver Arena. Both play host to the first of the four annual tennis Grand Slams. Representing the Grand Slam of the Asia-Pacific this competition first began in 1905 and moved to the current venue in 1988. Hosted in January every year it is of great appeal to see the big hitters of the tennis world get their season under-way.
When the locals of Melbourne joke that they would get a crowd to see the opening of an envelope there is little doubting the sporting passion of the locals. With so many great venues and sporting events it is little wonder that Melbourne is the sporting capital of the world.
Thanks for timely article on Melbourne – I haven’t yet been to the city but nice to read about some of sporting options here! We are in Thailand every January and I always see the Grand Slam of the Asia-Pacific on TV – and at that point, every year, I always say, “I wish we were in Australia”!
One of the best ways to write about Melbourne, thanks for sharing!!