The 1956 Olympics, held in Melbourne, was the first time Australia had its shot at showing the world our sporting and spectator prowess on our homefield. The National Library holds the Herald and Weekly Times photographic archive from these games. From the images of the spectators in action, it’s clear we won gold in this category.
I should’ve begun this blog with the warning that I’ve never been much of sporting spectator. I’m the kind of person who needs to ask at half-time who’s winning, and the roar of a stadium-worth of people makes me panic. But I am a people-watcher and have been a photography enthusiast since the day my grandfather first put a disposable camera in my hands.
With all that in mind, scroll on for a photography-induced lesson (as best as I can understand it) in how to watch a sports game.
Buy a ticket
On 22 November 1956, 103,000 people attended the opening ceremony of the Olympics at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. A few extra deviants found creative ways around buying a ticket. It might have made for some great images, but it’s not recommended.
Show up in style
Whether showing off your nationality or the team you’re supporting, the key to standing out in a crowd is what you wear. Of course, a huge smile will also take you far in this category.
Smashing! This couple have got it right. Nigel Thornberry approves.
Prepare for the elements
Rain or shine, Aussies love to show up to a sporting game (apparently). Melbourne, with all four-seasons of its glorious weather is the place to quickly learn how to be ready for anything.
Of course, a DIY approach is also a choice…
A newsworthy match?
Bring a snack-pack
As far as I can tell, the best part of watching a sporting match is the snacks – on and off the field. At the 1956 Olympics, the BYO picnic appeared to be all the rage and made for a perfect outing with friends or family.
A hot beverage seemed to be the drink of choice in 1956.
A sports fan in the making.
There are multiple options when it comes to actually viewing the match. Before screens ruled the stadium, binoculars were an obvious choice to catch the finer details of the game. But how do you know which kind to bring?
You can go with the submarine inspired periscopes.
Or perhaps take a page out of a surgeon’s notebook.
Cameras at the ready
Whether you’re a fan of the game, or tagging along for the first time, you’ll want to capture the occasion. And if you lose interest in whatever sport you’re watching, you can always turn your lens to the crowd.
If you’re a stadium-stand local, a hero on the field, or just learning how to show good sportsmanship (like me), the National Library’s Grit & Gold: Tales from a Sporting Nation exhibition is for you.