THE $18,000 Local Bloke Removalists Golden Eagle Pairs Classic will spread its wings in 2014, with Orange’s three bowling clubs set to host sectional play throughout next month’s rich competition.
The move to three hosts in 2014 is a throw back to the glory days of the Golden Eagle and follows a 2013 tournament that saw both Orange City and Newstead Bowling Clubs host what was one of the closest Eagles on record.
In 2014, the Country Club greens will also host sectional play.
OCBC committee member and tournament organiser Lee Stinson said the main reason behind the move was green availability, but was hopeful this year’s whole-encompassing Eagle would be a sign of things to come.
“Orange City only has one green available this year, so we’ve had to seek the other clubs to come on board to fill the 42 sides and run the event as it has been for the last 42 years,” Stinson explained.
“When the Eagle was at its peak, though, every club was involved.
“It used to be four when we still had greens on top of the Ex-Services Club. We’re getting back to the heyday.”
Originally, close to 120 sides across five greens at Orange City, three at Newstead, two at Ex-Services and two at Country Club contested the Golden Eagle.
Based on the quality of players in this year’s field, the 2014 Classic could be one of the tournament’s biggest since the Eagles’ halcyon years.
World number two Jeremy Henry will be in action, while the most decorated pairing in Golden Eagle history, three-time winners Bernie Diduszko and Gerard Beath will return in the hunt for a fourth title.
Last year’s champions Glen Raymond and Phil Westcott will look to go back-to-back, while the pair of Robert Allen and Simon Colvin are current Ireland under 25s representatives bowling out of Wollongong club Warilla.
Orange City committee member Glen Robinson believes the high standard of bowler on show this year will ensure the club’s showpiece event continues to gain popularity.
“For (more teams to compete) next year though, we’ll have to increase prize money and take it back to the glory days,” Robinson said. “This year, with the calibre of players we’ve got here, we’re heading the right way.”
This year’s $18,000 Local Bloke Removalists Golden Eagle Pairs Classic will begin on Monday, March 10.