- Lloyd Rothwell
Sydney Cricket Ground – Sydney Swans
Photos by Lloyd Rothwell, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.57
Sydney Cricket Ground Driver Ave Moore Park NSW 2021 Australia
Year Opened: 1848
Cheer, Cheer the Red and the White
The Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) may have only been home to the Sydney Swans since 1982 when South Melbourne relocated to the harbour city, but Australian Rules football was played on the hallowed turf as early as 1881. Indeed the historic Members Pavilion (1886) and Ladies Stand (1896) are visual representations of the venue’s iconic place in Australian and world sport.
Given the name, the ground is obviously heavily used for cricket in the summer months. International, interstate and Big Bash League (Sydney Sixers) games are all played at the SCG. Prior to venues such as Allianz Stadium and ANZ Stadium being built, the rugby codes were also based here with a constant flow of grand finals and test matches up until the mid-1980s. Furthermore, the SCG was the main stadium when Sydney hosted the Empire Games, the precursor to the Commonwealth Games, in 1938. Modern renovations have kept the SCG at the forefront of stadiums around the world. Most recently the MA Noble, Don Bradman and Dally Messenger Stands were rebuilt incorporating new restaurant style dining and bar areas.
The Swans have a long history, beginning life as a foundation club in the Victorian Football League (VFL), however experienced little success as South Melbourne. Their move to Sydney was considered their only hope of survival after a long period of financial instability and uncertainty. Rebirthed as the Sydney Swans, the club experienced a short period as a glamour club before several years in the doldrums, most notably punctuated by 26 losing games in a row.
After a gradual rebuild the club finally broke through for their maiden premiership as the Sydney Swans in 2005. They are now consistently regarded as perennial contenders and one of the strongest clubs in the league.
Food & Beverage 4
The new MA Noble and Bradman Stands have really helped set a new benchmark for food and beverage at Australian sporting venues; with gourmet burgers and sandwiches, barramundi, oysters and a good selection of craft beers and ciders by the Matilda Bay Brewing Co.
Other sections of the stadium have to make do with the likes of hot dogs ($6), hot chicken roll ($10), meat pie ($7), and hot chips ($5.90). Snacks such as crisps ($5.90) and chocolate bars ($4.60) can be purchased from the same outlets. Coke variety soft drinks will cost you $5.60 while bottled water is $4.80. A number of outlets also offer tempura fish and chips ($10.50), salt and pepper squid with chips ($11.50), sushi ($10.50), wraps ($9.50) and sandwiches ($7.60). Domino’s Pizza is available at some points with individual pizzas (Meatosaurus, Hawaiian or Margarita) available.
Depending which area of the stadium you are located, you may or may not have access to full strength beer. Nevertheless, prices include Crown Lager ($9), Peroni ($9), Pure Blonde ($8.90), Cascade Premium Light ($6.80), cider ($9), wine ($7.30), and mid strength spirits ($10.20).
As you will note, prices across the board are high and continue to rise, however seasoned stadium travellers will know that this is fairly standard for major venues around the world.
The history and charm of the SCG cannot possibly be underestimated. It truly is a gem, celebrating historical significance with modern amenity and comfort. The various grandstands are mostly named after Australia’s cricketing legends; Sir Donald Bradman, Monty Noble, Bill O’Reilly and Victor Trumper, with an additional nod to rugby league’s Dally Messenger and Clive Churchill. The Trumper Stand features good views of the city skyline, including Sydney Tower. The Members Pavilion and Ladies Stand create a sensational backdrop – and is a wonderful place to sit if you’re lucky enough to have access to this area of the ground.
Despite the obvious dominance of cricket and rugby league historically, the Swans have well and truly found a home at the SCG and are building a history of their own, with a full house at a Swans game a sea of cheering fans in red and white. In more recent years, with their future secured, the club has embraced their South Melbourne heritage. This has only helped build their identity and the majority of AFL fans in Sydney follow the Swans over their new crosstown rival, the GWS Giants.
With Driver Ave closed off to traffic, there is always plenty of excitement out on the street as fans buy their tickets and mingle before entering the stadium. There are various stalls set up but if a big crowd is expected, and you’re in a general admission or non-reserved seating area, it’s best to arrive early and grab a good seat while you can.
The Moore Park precinct is located just south of the Sydney CBD. With Allianz Stadium next door there is often an opportunity for an AFL – rugby union / rugby league double header, although be aware of the traffic implications if this is the case. On the other side of the stadium is the Entertainment Quarter / Fox Studios Australia which hosts a number of options for food and entertainment including a Bavarian Bier Café and PJ Gallagher’s, as well as numerous traditional cafés. The surrounding suburb also features impressive parklands including Centennial Park. Venture further afield and you will find a plethora of dining and drinking options in the nearby suburbs of Paddington and Surry Hills. Many of these old pubs have a great history and are worth a stop on your way to the ground.
Of course, Sydney is one of the great cities of the world and if you are from out of town, definitely do sightseeing trips to see iconic landmarks such as the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge. Sydney is defined by water; the picturesque harbour and world famous beaches are quite accessible. Bondi Beach is close by or you can catch the ferry from Circular Quay to Manly Beach for the day.
Sydneysiders have grown their knowledge of the game of AFL as the Swans themselves have grown. The Swans remain a popular sporting / entertainment option for fans of all ages. Crowd figures average over 30,000 with the vast majority proudly sporting red and white. Fans are knowledgeable, loud and constantly engaged in the game. The home crowd at the SCG is no doubt a strong advantage for the Swans who take extra delight in winning for their fans. The only negative quirk is that Sydneysiders are often late to any sporting event, and a Swans game is no exception.
The SCG is centrally located, just south of the CBD. Parking is available in the parklands over the road for $25, with additional spaces in Fox Studios. Like most venues that attract large crowds, access can be a problem. Allow plenty of time to arrive and park, especially if it’s a big game – there will be traffic, especially in the surrounding areas, if not on the major access roads en route.
Public transport to Moore Park is quite good, save for the fact that the nearest train stations require a bus connection to the SCG. If you’re travelling from the north or west, you will likely alight at Central Station for the short bus trip. The SCG is walkable from Central, and although it is uphill, there are several nice pubs on the way if you’re so inclined. The east and south are well serviced by buses. In future years light rail will provide a welcome additional option from the south.
Once inside, the concourses get quite crowded as people arrive and move towards their seats. Again, allow plenty of time and get there early. Ushers are plentiful and located at numerous checkpoints. Access around the venue is somewhat limited and you are mostly restricted to the general area in which your seat is located. Bathrooms are readily available and well maintained.
Return on Investment 4
General Admission tickets for Adults start from around $32, while the highest value Category 1 tickets costing almost $80. There are discounts available for families, children and other eligible concessions. Be aware that if you choose to go the GA route only a small portion of the ground is dedicated for these tickets. Remember that parking, if applicable, and food, are also quite pricey, although fairly comparable to other major venues.
In summary, a Swans game is expensive but don’t let that deter you.
The SCG is a special place. Extra points are awarded for the Members Pavilion and Ladies Stands which are unique features in a major sporting venue and a constant reminder of the commitment the SCG Trust has to celebrating their history. The venue deserves credit for continuing to improve the spectator experience. The recent changes have also made the ground a better venue for AFL. There are numerous activities and stands throughout the venue for photo opportunities and fan engagement including access to the playing surface after the game.
A Swans game at the SCG is a must for any sports fan – an amazing atmosphere at one of the world’s great stadiums.