Monday, 8 November 2010

Ashes advent calendar: Melbourne

Melbourne was founded in 1835 and named after William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne, a Whig politician who was British Prime Minister at the time. The discovery of gold in Victoria in the 1850s saw it grow exponentially and with a population of 4 million it is now Australia's second-largest City and it's busiest seaport. After Australian federation in 1901 the national Government resided within Melbourne as an interim measure, until it moved to a purpose-built Parliament in Canberra in 1927.

Sport in Melbourne
Melbourne styles itself as the capital of Australian sport, with several of the country's most prestigious events taking place within the city. The Rod Laver Arena hosts the Australian Open, one of the four international Grand Slam tennis tournaments, a street circuit in Albert Park hosts the Australian F1 Grand Prix, and the Melbourne Cup at Flemington Racecourse is Australia's most prestigious horse-racing event. Melbourne was the first place in the Southern Hemisphere to host the Summer Olympics in 1956, centred around the MCG. Of all the purpose-built stadia used in 1956 only the swimming complex survives unchanged and is now the home of the Victorian Institute of Sport.
Melbourne was probably the birthplace of Aussie Rules Football and it remains the major winter sport in Victoria. The city has no less than nine Aussie League teams: Essendon, St Kilda, Western Bulldogs, North Melbourne and Carlton play at Docklands Stadium, while the more famous Melbourne, Hawthorn, Richmond and Collingwood play at the SCG, as does Victoria's First-Class cricket club, the Bushrangers.
As well as giving birth to Aussie Rules, Victoria was also the cradle of Australian motorsport, with the first motor race taking place in Melbourne before the first Australian Grand Prix took place in 1928 at Phillip Island, about 90 miles down the coast. After falling into disuse in the 1980s Phillip Island is once again a major motorsport venue, hosting rounds of Moto GP, the Superbike World Championship and one of the Blue Ribband V8 Supercars events.
The Rebels are Melbourne's major Rugby Union side, Melbourne Storm the major Rugby League side. Both play at the AAMI Stadium alongside Melbourne's two Association Football clubs, Melbourne Victory and Melbourne Heart.

Melbourne Cricket Ground
At just over 100,000, the MCG has the largest capacity of any cricket ground in the world and is the tenth largest stadium of any kind. Its owner, Melbourne Cricket Club, was founded in 1838 and is the oldest sporting club in Australia. After using several other sites they first used the area where the MCG stands in 1854.
Less than a year later the first grandstand had been erected, another was built in time to welcome the first English side to tour Australia in 1861, and one more had been built by the time the MCG played host to the first ever Test Match in 1877, with a second Test being played on the same ground a fortnight later - Australia won the first, England the second. Nearly a century later, in 1971, the MCG also took the distinction of holding the first ever International One-Day cricket match as Australia beat England by 5 wickets.
The current form of the MCG follows major reconstruction that took place prior to it hosting the Commonwealth Games in 2006, and while the ground is now one continuous ring, it is still regarded as four different sections: The Southern, Ponsford, Olympic, and Members' Stands. The MCG is host to the Boxing Day Test Match every year, and prior to the old Southern Stand's demolition in 1988 Bay 13 was notorious for the drink-fuelled "playfulness" of its occupants, some of which still persists.
England at the MCG: P53 - W19(35.8%) L27(50.9%) D7(13.2%)

Did you know: The world's first feature-length film, "The Story of the Kelly Gang", was filmed and produced in Melbourne in 1906. It was based on the life-story of Ned Kelly, a bushranger (a kind of outlaw) who was hanged in 1880 after being captured following a shoot-out with the police.

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