AIMING to etch their name into the history books, teams from right across Australia will flock to Orange next week for the 45th City of Orange Golden Eagle Pairs tournament.
Set to be held at Orange City and Newstead bowling clubs this year, the prestigious pairs event has attracted sides from Cabramatta, North Sydney, Newcastle, Walgett, Lightning Ridge and Victoria as well as defending champions George Ford and Bob Hamilton.
This year’s Golden Eagle is shaping up as a big one for both Ford and Hamilton.
Champions in 2010 as well, the Blayney-Molong combination will be gunning to become just the second pairing to win three Golden Eagles after the star pairing of Gerard Beath and Bernie Diduszko notched up its third eagle crown in 2011.
Golden Eagle tournament organiser Lee Stinson, who’ll partner two-time runner-up Steve Carr for the 2013 competition, said the calibre of the 42 teams on show next week will potentially make for one of the closest Eagle races since the inaugural event over four decades ago.
“There’s a lot of tradition behind the event,” Stinson said.
“It’s been held every year since 1969 except 1986, and I’m told there was a bit of hail damage that year. There’s a lot of prestige behind some of the names who have won it.”
Along with the proven Ford-Hamilton and Beath-Diduszko combinations set to shine in this year’s Golden Eagle, Stinson said a number of other pairings will take some stopping.
Former Australian representatives Leif Selby and Rob Parella, who took out the 1999 title after Parella won with son Mark Parella in 1997 and 1998, are both in this year’s field.
Jason Stokes, a state representative, is also headed to Orange.
But the most decorated pairing is from Nelson Bay.
Richard Girvan - two-time New Zealand Commonwealth Games representative who played in the most recent World Championships in Adelaide - and Brain Bateman - a current state pairs champion - will be ones to watch.
“They’re probably the favourites going into it this year, although they’re in a reasonably tough section,” Stinson said, adding he and Carr are also eyeing off the top prize when play begins at 8.30am on Monday morning.
“Naturally we hope to win it all.
“It’ll be tough though, we’re in a tough section. We’ve got to concentrate on winning our section first before we get to the knockout rounds.”
The 42 teams will be split into seven six-team sections.
Each team will play the five others in their respective section once, with the winner of each section progressing through to the quarter finals.
The next best placed side overall will fill the eighth quarter-final position.
From the final eight stage, sides will face sudden death before a winner is declared after the final on Thursday, February 28.
The first matches of the 2013 Golden Eagle will begin at 8.30am on Monday.
A Golden Eagle calcutta is being held at 6pm this Sunday at the Orange City Bowling Club. Anyone can attend and buy tickets.