There’s no escaping the passion for sport in Melbourne

Sport in Melbourne Melbourne Victory Fans

The level of passion the locals have for sport in Melbourne is insane. Read the two major newspapers, listen to any talk back radio, or turn on the TV at pretty much any stage across the weekend, and chances are sport will be front and centre. I love my sport, I worked in professional sport in Melbourne for nine years, and even I get sick of the coverage. If there’s such as a thing as sports poisoning, then almost every Melbournian has a severe dose 12 months a year!

If you’re a visitor to Melbourne with an interest in sport, you’ve come to the right place. At any time of the year you can check out some sporting event featuring the world’s best going at it. The number of world-class athletes who call Melbourne home and ply their trade here, plus the world-class athletes who visit with their clubs or for major sporting events is mind-boggling. So to try and cut through the clutter and confusion for you, here’s a comprehensive guide to sport in Melbourne.

Australian Rules Football (AFL)

Sport in Melbourne

Melbourne Cricket Ground

With nine teams based in Melbourne and another one an hour away in Geelong, Australian Rules Football is the undisputed king of sport. It’s not the easiest sport to understand if you don’t know anything about the game, but it’s easy to appreciate the athleticism and skills of the players. The best advice I can offer is to just pick a team (my team Hawthorn is a great choice), and support them with all the enthusiasm of a local, because there literally is no escape from AFL in Melbourne.

All games in Melbourne are played at the iconic 100,000 seat Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), or the modern 52,000 seat Etihad Stadium with its retractable roof. At either of these venues you’re going to be in for an incredible viewing experience.

DAYS: Friday, Saturday and Sunday (the odd Thursday and Monday game thrown in)
MONTHS: March – September
WHERE: MCG (Melbourne) and Etihad Stadium (Docklands)
ADULT TICKET (as of 2016): $25 – $75

Rugby League (NRL)

The National Rugby League is the AFL’s equivalent in NSW and Queensland, the undisputed king of sport in those two states. The Melbourne Storm is Melbourne’s NRL team, and has become a much loved and well-supported sport in the city. With three of the five best players in the competition playing for the Storm (Cameron Smith, Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk), they win regularly in Melbourne and are an ever-present come finals time. A Storm game is a fantastic event with fireworks, cheerleaders, mascots, half-time entertainment, live music, and the most passionate sports fans going around, you simply can’t go wrong with a visit to AAMI Park to catch a NRL game.

DAYS: Friday, Saturday, Sunday or Monday
MONTHS: March – September
WHERE: AAMI Park, Melbourne
ADULT TICKET (as of 2016): $25.49 – $60.15

Cricket (International and Big Bash League)

Our biggest summer sport has a vast array of cricket options, but only a few worth checking out. The Victorian state team, the Bushrangers, play in the domestic four-day and 50-over competitions. But they draw pretty small crowds so unless you’re a real cricket fan, these games aren’t for you.

Instead, check out a game involving the Australian team at the MCG, or a Big Bash League clash.

The Boxing Day Test match is one of the biggest days on the Australian sporting calendar, with enormous crowds piling into the MCG to watch Australia play the visiting international team. The first day of the five-day Test match is always a monster (75,000-100,000 people), but crowds are pretty big every day, particularly if we’re playing a big traditional rival like England or India. There will also be one-day (50-overs) and T20 (20-overs) games as well, so if you’re a fan of the game there’s plenty of international cricket to enjoy.

DAYS: Any
MONTHS: October – February
WHERE: MCG, Melbourne
ADULT TICKET (as of 2016): TBC

Sport in Melbourne

Melbourne Renegades star batsman Aaron Finch

If Test match cricket is like a 12-course degustation meal at a fancy restaurant, Big Bash League cricket is its fast food equivalent. It’s loud, colourful, exciting, eventful and over in three and a half hours. Both teams have only 20-overs to bat each, and the action is as exciting as any sport on Earth. Melbourne has two teams, the Stars and Renegades. The Stars are the bigger team, always filled with high profile players, and play at the MCG, while the Renegades are like the little brother playing out of Etihad Stadium.

DAYS: Any
MONTHS: December – January
WHERE: MCG (Melbourne) and Etihad Stadium (Docklands)
ADULT TICKET (as of 2016): TBC

Rugby Union (Super Rugby)

Super Rugby is a rugby union competition comprising teams from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and from 2016, Argentina and Japan. The Melbourne Rebels are the local team, and while they haven’t been particularly successful to this point, experts are suggesting the team is about to burst onto into finals contention in a big way. It’s a physically demanding and brutal sport, so if you love watching big men trying to run over the top of each other, a day at a Melbourne Rebels game could be for you.

DAYS: Friday, Saturday, Sunday or Monday
MONTHS: February – August
WHERE: AAMI Park, Melbourne
ADULT TICKET (as of 2016): $25.49 – $76.46

Football (A-League)

Sport in Melbourne

Melbourne Victory star forward Fahid Ben Khalfallah

The standard of our summer football code is getting better every year, with a lot of our youngest and brightest snapped up by bigger overseas clubs every year, and big name players heading to Australia at the tail end of their careers. World stars such as Alessandro Del Piero, Robbie Fowler, Emile Heskey, Dwight Yorke, Shinji Ono, David Villa, Romario and Harry Kewell have all played in the A-League at one time or another. The crowds rival their European counterparts for making noise and creating a brilliant atmosphere inside the stadiums, especially at games involving the league’s two biggest clubs, Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC.

Melbourne has two teams, the Victory and Melbourne City, and the rivalry is fierce. The Victory were the first team established so have a far bigger supporter base, but having recently been bought by the same guys who own Manchester City FC and New York City FC, Melbourne City are on the move up the ladder fast! If you’re in Melbourne in the summer and love your football, head to a game.

DAYS: Friday, Saturday and Sunday (an occasional Thursday and Monday game)
MONTHS: October – April
WHERE: AAMI Park (Melbourne), Etihad Stadium (Docklands)
ADULT TICKET (as of 2016): $28.55 – $66.27

Netball (ANZ Championships)

The ANZ Championships is our flagship netball competition featuring teams from Australia and New Zealand, and the Melbourne Vixens are our team. They’ve been very successful since the competition began in 2008, winning the championship twice with another runner-up finish. Fast paced, athletic, exciting, loud crowds and a great home court venue, the Vixens have it all.

DAYS: Saturday, Sunday and Monday
MONTHS: April – July
WHERE: Hisense Arena and Margaret Court Arena, Melbourne
ADULT TICKET (as of 2016): $30 – $45

Basketball (NBL)

The razzle-dazzle of top class basketball is alive and well in Australia, with a trip to a NBL game sure to get the adrenalin pumping and the heart racing. After a tumultuous history with a number of teams having been and gone, Melbourne United is now our only NBL team.

DAYS: Any day
MONTHS: October – February
WHERE: Hisense Arena (Melbourne) and State Netball and Hockey Centre (Parkville)
ADULT TICKET (as of 2016): TBC

Formula 1 Grand Prix 

Melbourne’s F1 Grand Prix is four days of high-octane action around the Albert Park Lake circuit culminates in the big Sunday race. Grid girls, air displays, celebrities, world-class musical acts and the fastest racing cars on Earth make for an incredible event.

MONTH: March
WHERE: Albert Park Lake
ADULT TICKET (as of 2016): $100.88 – $350

Australian Open Tennis

Two weeks of the best tennis action in the world featuring some of the greatest players to have ever lived is what the Australian Open is all about. The first Grand Slam event of the year is the players’ and fans’ favourite, because the weather is amazing and there is plenty to keep everyone entertained in world-class facilities. One of the world’s great summer events!

MONTH: January
WHERE: Melbourne Olympic Park
ADULT TICKET (as of 2016): TBC

Spring Racing Carnival (horse racing)

When the AFL season finishes the attention of all Melbournians turns to horse racing, with four incredible race days making up the Spring Racing Carnival. Food, wine, fashion, and even some horse racing makes it a sporting and social experience not to be missed. The biggest race day is of course the Melbourne Cup, which takes place on the first Tuesday of every November. The Saturday before is Derby Day, the Thursday after is Oaks Day, and the week finishes with Stakes Day on the Saturday. If you’re in Australia at this time of the year, just go to one of the days!

MONTH: November
WHERE: Flemington Racecourse
ADULT TICKET (as of 2016): TBC

Other sport in Melbourne

There are way too many events and sports in Melbourne to mention without getting RSI, so here is a list that you might find useful.

Tickets

If you’re looking for tickets to almost any sport in Melbourne, generally they’re available from two major ticketing agencies, Ticketek and Ticketmaster. If you can’t find what you’re looking for there, head to the website of the sport or team you’re wanting to see, or leave a message in the comments below and I’ll find out for you.

%d bloggers like this: