Sydney d Melbourne? Here’s the recount

For that reason, I’ve never placed any store by whichever liveable cities index Melbourne selectively seizes on to brandish in Sydney’s face from time to time. «Liveable» generally means liveability for foreigners, momentarily passing through.

Grandiosely, BCW tells us that it has refined its criteria this year. Rather than merely poll «experts», it has taken into account the viewpoints of «international federations» and concurrence of each city’s name and the word «sport» on the internet.



«International federations» are sub-branches of the Olympic movement. That explains the pre-eminence of Olympic cities at the top of the list. Sydney did do quite a nice Olympic Games nearly 20 years ago, and the afterglow lingers, although it is not clear that anything much has happened there since.

The internet explains the giddy rise of Manchester and Madrid into the top 10. They are home to probably the two most famous soccer clubs in the world. Yes, Melbourne, we’ve been done out of our heritage by Google searches. All we have to do is whistle up another Olympics, and/or get ourselves a superclub (sorry, Victory), or maybe budge Barcelona out of Barcelona.

Or not.

The thing about the importance of sport in Melbourne — all the bluff and bluster of the Grand Prix Corporation notwithstanding — is that it doesn’t need anyone else’s list for validation. We have the events, and we have the stadiums, and we could enumerate them, but that wouldn’t come close to expressing how dear it all is to the city’s heart, and always has been.

It’s not necessarily or only about big sports on the world’s calculus, but the bigness of sport on ours. Cricket is sectional, AFL local, but we cherish them on the grand scale. London and Paris always will be bigger cities, soccer a bigger sport, but so will badminton. It’s beside the point, which makes the point. We don’t need the imprimatur of a full-service global communication agency with something to sell. Or Sydney’s.

We could worry about how we look in comparison to Berlin (No 14) or Glasgow (No 16) or Budapest, or Dallas, or Gold Coast — they’re all on the list, somewhere — but just don’t.

As for Sydney, it’s a nice enough place, with lots of beaches, a you-beaut harbour and a quite decent bridge. It has its strengths, and plays to them, as it should. But when it comes to sport, Sydneysiders don’t even go very much to the one they call their No 1. Altogether, they’d rather be drinking craft beer in Paddington, and more power to them for that.

Meantime, we’ll be at the «G». Actually, so that Google’s algorithms don’t miss us, can you make that «Melbourne Cricket Ground»? Where the 1956 Olympics were held? And where Manchester United played once?

And if all this puts me at the top of the list of thin-skinned southern apologists with small-town inferiority complexes, well, you’ve got to be No 1 at something.

Greg Baum is chief sports columnist and associate editor with The Age




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