Three elite contributors to district bowls were inducted into the Goulburn Valley Bowls Division Hall of Fame at an awards gala on Monday, April 30.
Rushworth star Jean Sprague, Merrigum legend Joan Coldwell and dedicated administrator Allan Matheson all received the honour at East Shepparton Bowls Club.
Coldwell was the first to be named, with the continued listing of all her achievements drawing gasps from the crowd.
Coldwell began bowling at Merrigum in 1968 when the club was formed, going on to be crowned the Goulburn Valley District Ladies Bowls Association Champion of Champions in the 1992-93 season.
But there were numerous other times she was crowned the best in the region with a singles, pairs, triples and five fours titles to her name.
She was club champion at Merrigum for six years in the 1970s, but like many of those inducted into the Hall of Fame, Coldwell’s influence extended off the bowling green.
She was the ladies’ president in 1974 and 1975 and always helped out in the kitchen and supported her teammates from the sidelines.
Having turned 90 on Saturday, Coldwell was thrilled to receive the accolade.
‘‘I’m shocked. I didn’t even know I’d won half that many (titles),’’ she said.
As Brian Nisbet read out the achievements of the next inductee, Allan Matheson was on everyone’s minds.
After agreeing to be secretary at Hill Top for a year, Matheson ended up spending 32 years in the job, going alongside his 30-year commitment in the same role with the Goulburn Valley District Bowls Association.
With the division one weekend pennant competition named after Matheson, Monday night’s accolade was just another in a long list of achievements.
In attendance at nearly every event, he received life membership to the GVDBA in 1990 and received the same title from Hill Top in 2001.
Matheson’s wife Beryl accepted the award on behalf of her late husband, while daughter and lawn bowler Jeanette Overall spoke.
‘‘Hill Top had a special place in Dad’s heart,’’ Overall said.
‘‘In the 1980s there were no mobiles and no emails, so he relied solely on a landline and meeting people face-to-face.’’
As the third inductee of the night, Sprague received loud cheers as a popular choice.
Sprague’s list of achievements seemed endless, with all her titles notched after starting bowls at Rushworth in the 1996-97 season.
Highlighting her talent was four years in the Victorian state squad, while continuing to dominate in the local competition.
Sprague has been crowned the GVBD champion of champions six times, including going all the way in 2003-04 to win the Victorian Champion of Champions title.
At the same competition she teamed up with Wendy Tate to take out the Victorian state pairs competition.
Playing at Rushworth, Sprague has a remarkable 12 club championships to her name, including the most recent nine won consecutively.
‘‘This is absolutely wonderful,’’ Sprague said.
‘‘I’ve had 20-plus years of playing bowls and I have a hell of a good time playing bowls, as you know.
‘‘The state squad was an amazing opportunity, but it’s now nice to pop out and bowl with no real pressure.
‘‘Rushy has been wonderful and is the only club I’ve ever played at.’’