2021 State Champions Week Wrap Up

by Melanie Allen

What a week it was at Bendigo East Bowling Club for 2021 State Champions Week. We started with cold and blustery conditions and the first day’s play ended in bitterly cold conditions. But the sun came out on day 2 and stayed most of the week. When the predicted rain came down on the second last day, our women’s triples toughed it out but eventually had to call it a night and carry on the following morning – that being the only hiccup in an otherwise seamlessly run event.

Most days saw both the clubhouse and around the greens full with spectators, both family and friends of players, but also many locals coming to watch the action. A large group had made the trip from Geelong to enjoy the week, and the novice finalists had a big support crew, hopefully helping to ease their nerves. Later each day once the sun went down the big screen in the clubhouse became a popular place to watch the live stream, rather than out in the cold, and kept the bar staff busy.

Nathan Murray & Jay-Bye Norris drew a crowd for their 25-24 nail-biter.

A regular every day was a lovely gentleman named Chris Stewart. Each morning Chris would do the 1-hour drive from Lockington to the club, get his walker out of the boot, always in time for the first game. He would move between greens and keep mental stats on all the games. He’s a bit of a super fan and travels around to all the major events to soak in the action, and has an amazing memory for stats. It was great to see his happy, smiling face each day, scrutinising the draw sheets and planning his daily viewing schedule!

It was also wonderful to see our newly inducted Hall of Famer, Margaret Sumner, watching the action for most of the week. Margaret has a keen eye and amazing knowledge of our great game, and kept notes and stats on the games she watched in her trusty notebook. No doubt for later review and hearty discussion down the track with fellow lovers of bowls.

We received some great media coverage of State Champs Week on both radio and TV, with the local WIN Bendigo team interviewing players and filming on multiple days, some of which was broadcast not only in Bendigo but right across regional Victoria.

Our own live streaming was very well-received with Jimmy and Josh’s excellent knowledge, both of the players and calling the shots, mixed in with their casual banter. For those who tuned into the Mixed Pairs final, the term ‘flying kangaroo’ took on a whole new meaning (thanks JT for the laughs)! Fourteen matches were live-streamed over the eight days of competition, which resulted in forty hours of top quality live bowls, all of which are available online. So why not watch a replay to see what it takes to make it to State Champs Week? Videos are available in a playlist on our Facebook Page or via the BV website. It was great to have so much engagement from the audience during the streams, many asking questions or simply reacting to great shots. Thanks to all our guest commentators for jumping in to share their thoughts and knowledge.

The live streaming desk saw a number of guest commentators throughout the event.

The standard of bowls seen throughout the event, across all disciplines, really showed off the top talent we have here in Victoria. We saw some of our youngest competitors, Jarryd Davies and Cooper Wescombe, take out the Men’s Pairs title, while one of our more senior ladies, Marilyn Stephenson, was a finalist in both the Singles and Champion of Champions finals, taking out the Singles Title win. We had the battle of the regional families in the Men’s Triples with the Cromies taking on the Cartwrights, as well as a mother/daughter combination representing Strzelecki. Many of our medallists this year were playing their first State Championship events. – just proving that bowls really is a family-friendly, inclusive sport, and age or experience are certainly no barrier.

The Canteen Crew – keeping everyone well-fed throughout the event.

We thank the team at Bendigo East Bowling Club for hosting this event, players commended them on the quality of their greens and the hospitality received by all the volunteers each day. Special mention to Rob and his daily crazy outfits and wigs, and his mate Mick! Barman extraordinaire Dave Johnson accepted a certificate of appreciation on behalf of the club, and congratulated the BV Team during the final days’ medal presentation on a well-run event and acknowledged both the performance and attitude of the players. It was very pleasing to hear similar praise from players during their speeches, about both the event format itself and the host club’s efforts.

Finally, to all players and medal winners, including the overall Region winner, Sandbelt Region, volunteers and spectators, congratulations on a fantastic State Champions Week. Bring on 2022!

Overall Region Winner of ‘The Vic’ Shield: Sandbelt (accepted by Ali, Kelly, Lisa & Tara).

Header image: 2021 Novice Finalists