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ICC World Cup: MCG's Bay 13 is gone, unruly behaviour too

mid-day spends some time watching the India vs South Africa match from M6, the new name for Bay 13 which was a dangerous area to be in at the Melbourne Cricket Ground

Melbourne: There was a time, from the 1980s to up until the early 2000s, when Bay 13 in the Great Southern Stand of the Melbourne Cricket Ground was considered one of the most notorious places to watch a cricket match from. Invariably, there would be a drunk packed off in the back of a divvy (slang for a police van).

Fans dance to the beats of a dholak at the erstwhile Bay 13 (now M6) at the Melbourne Cricket Ground yesterday. Pic/Ashwin Ferro
Fans dance to the beats of a dholak at the erstwhile Bay 13 (now M6) at the Melbourne Cricket Ground yesterday. Pic/Ashwin Ferro 

Few instances
During one match — England vs Australia match in 1988-89 — Richard Hadlee, who was regularly troubling the Australians, was called a 'wanker' by the spectators from Bay 13. Hadlee retaliated against it later on a TV show and the tag stuck with him for life across all Australian cricket venues.

Another famous Bay 13 incident involved Shane Warne coming out wearing a helmet to speak to the Bay 13 crowd and calm them down after the English team stopped play in protest of the crowd's unruly behaviour. Bay 13 inhabitants have also been accused of racial abuse in the past.

But all this is more or less a thing of the past. Bay 13 has been renamed M6 at the MCG now and there is heavy police deputation to control any crowd trouble in the area as was the case during yesterday's India-South Africa World Cup fixture.

Senior Sergeant Shayne Kerley of the Victorian Police Service, who was on duty at the erstwhile Bay 13 yesterday, said that a change in regulations have ensured better behaviour at M6. "Back then, there were evictions only in extreme cases.

But now, we don't tolerate any unruly drunk behaviour. We straightaway evict the culprit and if need be, even put him inside the lock-up for a couple of hours till he sobers up," Kerley told mid-day amidst heightened euphoria at the MCG as India began to get an upper hand over the South Africans in the game.

Indians not aggressive
The crowd, almost all of whom were Indians, at M6 yesterday was loud but not unruly, vociferous but not aggressive. It's no wonder then that officer Kerley was in fact appreciative of the Indian fans celebrating with dholaks, drums and dance.

"It's traditionally the Australian fans who gave Bay 13 a bad name. This is a fine crowd today though. Indians are very passionate about their cricket and celebrate it like one big festival. But most importantly, they can hold their drink," added Kerley.

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