There are about 4.2 million people that live in Melbourne.
I am one of them.
The world has about 7.2 billion living in it.
Coincidently, I am one of those too.
So about 0.05% of the world live in Melbourne if my maths is correct.
That’s a miniscule amount of people. Insignificant. Statistically unimportant.
However, these people, collectively known as Melburnians, create the greatest cricketing product known to man every year.
You may have heard of it?
For a Melburnian, attending your first Boxing Day is a right of passage.
A cricketing Bar Mitzvah.
Something that must be achieved as early in life as possible.
It bring street cred.
It provides membership into a club where entry is earned and not bought.
A Melburnian’s Haj.
Boxing Day doesn’t mean day 2, 3, 4 or 5. It must be day 1. The Holy Day.
Out of towners have Boxing Day on their bucket list for all sorts of reasons. Only Melburnians have it on their list for the right one.
It is a Melburnian’s initiation rite.
Your first Boxing Day may arise due to being a guest of the establishment. This would involve wearing sensible pants and a collared shirt, heading to gate 2 and entering the MCC Members pavilion. It used to involve a jacket. Now it typically means a salmon polo with a popped collar.
I have done Boxing Day this way, but it wasn’t how I lost my virginity.
It could be that a young Melburnian hits the MCG with a male relative. His Father. His Grandfather. His Uncle.
Tickets collected a few weeks prior from the hidden counter in the Myer Department Store. Lining up. Discussing the seating map with the semi retired grandmother who serves you. Hoping to get somewhere near the old Bay 13 on the ground level. Ending up in row QQ of the top deck of the Great Southern Stand.
Under cover and out of the harsh summer rays that slowly change your skin tone to red.
Yet others do it as I did. With a bunch of mates.
Beers at the Cricketers Arms Hotel. Tanner St closed off. VB cans to wash down the egg and bacon rolls. Topless barmaids. Fellow Melburnians have filled the pub. We are all talking crap. Xmas was yesterday. Our bellies are still full.
I am 24 years old. Just a number.
Australia vs India.
Brett Lee will debut, as will Kanitkar.
Drenched from head to toe, only myself and 49,000 of my fellow Melburnians attended that day.
The first session was washed out. More beers in Tanner St.
Times were different back then.
The oversized sign being held up by two burly blokes amongst a sea of Indian fans at long leg that read “Taxi Drivers Convention at the MCG today” will never be seen again.
The beach balls were given back to the crowd and not popped. This was crucial, as many of us Melburnians could use that same ball in the following days as we headed to the beach for a break.
Full strength beer.
Those were the days.
I watch as Blewett and Langer don’t last long. Slater finished the day on 64* and went on to make another one of those 90’s he was famous for. He showed Shane Watson the way.
We all stumble back to the Cricketers Arms for some more refreshments. It’s just as busy as before. We are all cold and wet. This is summer.
The Richmond Railway Station beckons us around 8pm.
Drunk. Belly full of carbohydrate loaded goodness. Pies.
The souvenir program I purchased hasn’t found itself onto the train carriage. Only tired and content Melburnians have.
My right of passage is complete.
I am a Melburnian.
I am proud.
“Have you been to Boxing Day?”
I have done Boxing Day.
*Footnote – I originally used ‘Melbournian’ instead of ‘Melburnian’. I don’t know which one is correct, but the hate mail when I used the first version was strong. Therefore, I changed it. Apparently, using the correct English is beyond me.