Reviving a Gippsland bowls Classic
Reviving a time-honoured tournament may be the catalyst for providing more top-class bowls for Gippsland.
That’s the hope of Sale Bowls Club’s bowls co-ordinator Jan Morton, with a quality field assembled for the 2016 Men’s Classic Pairs on February 1 and 2
“We are hoping to bring this event back to its former glory and with the quality of this year’s field I think we are well on the way to achieving that,” she says.
“We’d like to see it become a major event on the Victorian calendar. You have the pairs at Moama, Bendigo has an event like that that players go out of their way to want to play in too.
“We want to make this a must-attend event. It’s something Gippsland sorely needs.”
Years ago, it was a calendar must.
The honour roll reads like a who’s who of bowls. Four-time world champion Ian Schuback is among past winners, as well as Victorian bowls icon Bob Middleton in the 1980s, which is when the tournament kicked off.
But the event disappeared in the late 1990s, and after a mini relaunch in 2014, it wasn’t run last year as work was undertaken to lay a new grass green at Sale BC.
Now, with the grass green added to the existing two synthetic surfaces, the club has pegged national ranking points to the event.
And that’s helped draw a high-quality field, featuring 2013 Australian Open champion Aaron Wilson, Malaysian star Safuan Said, and top bowlers like Victorian Open men’s pairs finalist Neil Jebb (Clayton), Tony Woods (Ringwood) , Frank Tonn (Cohuna), Jay-Bye Norris (Essendon) and Josh Sanders (Clayton).
In a neat nod to history, the tournament’s first ever winners from 1981, Ian and Sandy Caines from Moe, are also in this year’s field.
With the recent Yallourn Classic Singles the only other ranking points tournament in Gippsland, the Sale event is hoping to grow its reputation in 2017.
Morton says the club is working with nearby Yarram Country Club, which may piggyback a fours tournament on to the Sale Men’s Classic Pairs next year.
2016 Sale DMG Financial Classic Pairs entry list