Are These SCG Seats Worth The Wait?
Fifteen years seems like a long time to wait just to watch a game of cricket, but becoming a Sydney Cricket Ground member is an honour many are willing to wait for.
Earning a membership either means having the patience of someone with a cellar full of ageing wine, or having very deep pockets --- $11,000 deep, if you want to skip the waiting list.
The time you'll spend in the SCG's waitlist system varies, with some members waiting up to 18 years for their chance -- only to them have to queue again for hours on match day to get a seat in the famed Members Pavilion, while non-members can enjoy the luxury of sauntering in 10 minutes before the first ball.
This week's Pink Test between Australia and New Zealand was no different, with members arriving well before sunrise to get a glimpse of the same hallowed turf as the crowds across the pitch who paid a quarter of the price to be there.
Some fans talked about turning up before 4am to secure their place in line.
It's a costly queue to get there in the first place. To start with, an annual fee of $30 is required just to stay on the waiting list, and once you are finally inducted, the yearly membership fee will set you back upwards of $500.
Or you can pay an upfront fee of $11,000 to be a granted a Gold Membership immediately.
But the SCG Members isn’t just any old club. It oozes rich history, strict dress codes and unwritten social conduct laws dating back to 1877, when the club was first established.
It's the history of the ground --- and being born into a family of cricket tragics also helps --- that encourages SCG member Tim Bye to pay his $670 annual membership.
Bye was inducted as a member in his late teens, after his father put him on the list as a small child.
"I love the history and the fact I can connect easily with family and friends (who are also members) which is a special part of it," Bye said.
"I'd say we're the second biggest cricket loving family after John Howard's, but we probably have a better batting average."
Bye remembers queuing at the SCG for hours on end, where he would strike up conversation with other members.
"I was speaking to a 93-year-old man in line who was telling me he used to be a digger. I probably pushed him over when the gates open, but might have brought him a drink later," Bye joked.
If history and the hoity-toityness doesn’t win cricket lovers over, the full-strength beer on tap might.
There is also a noticeable absence of Richie Benaud impersonators or cartoon-ish hats in the heritage stands, thanks to the strict but simple dress code. Men are required to wear a collared shirt and closed shoes, and if they fail to do so they'll be pointed in the direction of the overpriced merchandise stand.
Riff-raff simply won't be tolerated either, so don't even think about making a beer snake or standing for the wave. There's often a collective boo or "members are wankers" echoing from the O'Reilly, Trumper and Churchill stands as the wave leapfrogs the members.
There's no sugar-coating the fact that being an SCG member has its downsides, with Bye admitting getting a seat can be difficult with crowds gradually increasing. So is it worth paying more than $600 for the privilege of waiting outside an empty stadium?
"At the end of the day we're all looking at the same wicket, but I like the history of the stands, and I love the game," Bye said.
If you're sitting in the Trumper stand looking across at the members, jealous that you're still stuck on the waiting list, remember they're paying the same outrageous price for substandard food and drink as you are.