Lifelong memories and friendships on offer at the Australian Open
Rosanna Bowling Club’s Ian Crawford has only been involved in the sport for a short time but the 58-year-old already has a number of folklore Australian Open (AO) stories. Rosanna Bowling Club’s Ian Crawford has only been involved in the sport for a short time but the 55-year-old already has a number of folklore Australian Open (AO) stories.
Having first experienced the AO as a spectator back in 2013 when the event was staged at his neighbouring venue Darebin, Crawford has gone on to compete in three consecutive events from 2015 when it shifted to the Gold Coast.
“The first AO I saw was in 2013 at Darebin and watched a local bowler against Australian legend Mark Casey,” he said.
“It was so exciting to watch up close and live. I thought ‘how good is this?’ and I introduced myself to Mark said I hoped to play against him one day.
“He said, ‘Where do you play?’ and I replied with, ‘I haven’t played yet!'”
It wasn’t before long that he found himself on the greens and competing in the world’s richest bowls event.
He made his debut on the Gold Coast in 2015 and it was the following year where his dream of playing against the best bowlers would come to fruition.
“I drew Australian Jackaroo Brett Wilkie (in the singles) at the AO in 2016. Being a new bowler, to play against someone of his stature was really exciting,” he said.
“On that day, I’d won my first two matches comfortably and I met Brett just before our game and explained to him that it was my second year of bowls and that if I did anything wrong, rules or etiquette-wise, that it wasn’t by design but just me learning the caper.
“I was lucky enough to lead him early and so he thought I was making the whole thing up!
“Then he really put his head down and the game was over before I knew it. He just went bang… It was like a runaway train. I’d put a bowl within a foot (of the jack) and he’d put three within that distance.
“He was a gentleman and it was nice to have a drink with him after the game and to see if I could learn anything else from him… The fact these guys are so approachable and down to earth makes the whole experience better for the average club bowler.”
The attraction to the AO on the Gold Coast has never been stronger for the club bowler according to Crawford, who has already signed up for this year’s instalment.
Having also rubbed shoulders against the likes of Nathan Pedersen and Leif Selby along the AO journey, he’s developed an affinity for the event.
He is set to compete in the singles and fours this year and is also on the lookout for a pairs partner to complete a three-peat of events in what will be a busy June.
Along with the possibility of playing against the world’s best bowlers, the event simply offers a bonding experience like no other and the Rosanna bowler can vouch for that.
“Getting away from the Melbourne winter is always a good thing!” he said.
“A guy I played against in my first year from Adelaide, we’re now in the fours together and staying together.
“You build life-long friendships out of the AO… That is an attraction in itself.”
Over 2,000 bowlers from across Australia, and indeed the world are expected to attend again, with entry being completely open to any registered bowler!
Not only is the AO the World’s Biggest Bowls Festival, it is also the richest bowls event in the world with a staggering total of over $250,000 prize money across more than 780 prize money placings in the 16 disciplines.
Bowlers can enter any one of the open disciplines on offer (singles, pairs and fours) or enter age-specific Under-18, Over-60s or Bowlers with a Disability events – for a full breakdown of the disciplines head to australianopen.bowlsaustralia.com.au!
Click here to enter in the 2018 AO! Entries close April 15