Dec 27, 2019
The desecration of Bay 13 is a national disgrace
In March 2001, the world reacted with outrage as the Taliban used dynamite to destroy two 1,700-year-old Buddha sandstone statues – the two tallest in the world.
It was needless cultural vandalism, unmatched since until this week, when the famous Bay 13 in the MCG Southern Stand was replaced with a $195 ticketed hospitality area known as the "Boundary Social".
The once culturally rich Bay 13, a haven for some of the most alcohol fuelled mayhem the cricketing world has ever seen, has finally had the last rites read.
This alcohol soaked ground was sacred, and it has been defiled in the name of the almighty dollar.
In recent years, security crackdowns and allocated ticketing have stripped away the soul of the old Bay 13, but this corporate monstrosity, the triumph of the Instagram crowd over the cricket loving public, was the stake through the heart.
Bay 13, despite its regular problems, at least had a culture, in a country lacking one. I remember my first time in Bay 13 as a sixteen-year-old, impossible now as the "Boundary Social" is over 18 only, as a riot to the senses.
There was cheering, drinking, laughing, Mexican waves and the ultimate ritual, the beer snake.
Alongside the desecration of the holy ground of Bay 13, the crack down on the beer snake shows how Cricket Australia has no sense of the rituals of cricket.
The beer snake, constructed by putting together empty plastic beer cups, is a triumph of people working together in harmony. There was solidarity in all individually contributing to a work of art. Each beer cup becoming greater than the sum of its parts.
I remember the pride when the first beer snake I contributes to reached over seven meters. It was the day I became a man.
The police of course came to break it up, after all, no one was hurting anyone, and everyone was having fun, so it obviously had to end.
‘We’ve got to stop people drinking too much’ say Cricket Australia, as they count their millions in alcohol advertising money and drink full strength beer in the corporate areas.
But Cricket Australia can't ignore the fact that the beer snake is the only cultural artifact Australia has ever produced, outside of Indigenous culture.
Bay 13 gave us other rituals too, the crowd following Merv Hughes' warm up stretches and that night when we all got a bit rowdy and threw some things on the ground, so Shane Warne was forced to come out of the change rooms to tell us to stop, putting on a helmet as a joke.
Look, it wasn’t perfect, but Bay 13 had a pulse in a game often looking for one. Sure, a lot of its practices were out of date in the modern era, but if you ended things because of that, there wouldn’t be a church open in this country.
Bay 13’s replacement with a sterile area promising 'premium beverages and gourmet grazing menu to purchase' is easily the worst thing to happen to culture this year, which is amazing Cats the movie came out.
Grassroots fans have lost another battle, in a war that hasn’t been going out way for some time.
Titus’ new book Please, Gamble Irresponsibly: The rise, fall and rise of sports gambling in Australia is now out. You can order it now.