Bigger and better: Golden Eagle soaring toward massive anniversary celebration

IN FINE FEATHER: Golden Eagle gurus Jean Kennedy and Neil Southcombe show off the impressive trophy on Wednesday. Photo: MATT FINDLAY
IN FINE FEATHER: Golden Eagle gurus Jean Kennedy and Neil Southcombe show off the impressive trophy on Wednesday. Photo: MATT FINDLAY

Bigger and better.

That’s what players and fans alike can expect from the 2018 City of Orange Golden Eagle Classic Pairs, Orange City Bowling Club secretary-manager Neil Southcombe says, in the celebrated competition’s 50th anniversary year.

As the 42 spots available fill fast, Southcombe confirmed on Wednesday the prize pool for the 2018 edition has been bumped up to a total of $20,000, a live draw will be introduced and the quality of the field will be “as good as we’ve seen in the last decade, at least”.

“We’ve only had entries open for three weeks and half the field is full already,” Southcombe enthused.

“Compared to this time of year normally, that’s massive and it shows the popularity of it being the 50th anniversary.

“Most of that interest is from outside Orange so far, we’ve got three teams from Melbourne locked in, three from Lawson, one from Adelaide.

“We’ve had interest from Sydney as well, the field will be as good as we’ve seen in the last decade, at least, so the locals will need to get their nominations in pretty quick.

“The prizemoney and trophies is up by $4,000 from last year which is a credit to the local businesses who support us, so it’s definitely going to be bigger and better. It’s great, we can’t wait.”

Although Southcombe said they’ve yet to nominate, he’s expecting reigning champions Jay Porter and Matt McIntyre, from Dubbo, to front once again.

Obviously they’ll be defending this year’s title, but they’d also be looking for a third win in the last four years after triumphing in 2015 as well.

The field will be as good as we’ve seen in the last decade, at least.

ORBC secretary-manager Neil Southcombe

“They promised they’d be back, so I can’t see why they’d miss it,” Southcombe said.

“We’re certainly expecting them to nominate soon and we definitely want to see them return, being defending champions and 2015 winners as well.

“They’re a pretty formidable team.”

Orange City and Golden Eagle committee member Jean Kennedy echoed Southcombe’s excitement, saying the competition’s organisers are hard at work to ensure the 50th edition of the tournament is the best yet.

“We are, we’ll all be working very hard to make sure it’s a great celebration,” she said.

“It’s quite unique really, not many competitions reach 50 years and especially not with the participation the Golden Eagle continues to receive.”

The Golden Eagle was established 50 years ago when Fred Bennett, Keith Scott and Max Gallagher originally came up with the idea as a way to entice top-level bowlers to the region.

The competition has evolved, diversified and, at times, even been under threat but has remained a steadfast fixture of the Orange sporting calendar, with the 2018 edition to run from February 19-22, entries will remain open for some time yet too.

Kennedy also explained the competition’s major sponsorship slot is up for grabs, any business interested in getting behind the Golden Eagle can contact Orange City directly.