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Article: Hylton Frequent Flyer - FA Cup of Darts 2012

Hylton Frequent Flyer - FA Cup of Darts 2012

After last years exploits it was always going to be a tough ask for Mark to make the 2012 Open as memorable. However in many ways it was just a good an experience. It is one thing to go into an event when not too much is expected of you, but you know you are in superb touch and likely to make a dent. This was the 2011 situation. It is another thing when many eyes are on you, you have had a tough time and the results have not been going your way. For Mark to  perform superbly again and put may things back on track is an achievement that should make all very proud, I know that myself and Let’s Play Knockout Darts are.



As ever, we at Team Hylton have learned a great deal in a couple of years and following last years long wait, over hot practice room and general large distractions we adopted a different approach.

The Team was assembled and kept simple for day 1. The Rhino was in charge of the driving and did a superb job, despite huge problems on the roads to Bolton and a 1 hour journey taking over 3 hours. On arrival Mark was registered immediately and we disappeared to the hotel for food and relaxation. Mark had done a great deal of work in the previous few weeks and thus only tuning up practice would be needed. The Rhino demolished a well earned mixed grill and we welcomed our VIP guests for the evening.

Most of us chatted away whilst keeping an eye on the games, especially John Jukes superb win. After leaving it till as late as possible the Team headed for the venue. This proved a very good strategy  giving Mark enough time for a good practice and the bull up etc but not too long to dwell or worry about anything at all.


Day 1 : Antonio Alcinas

Toni looked a little nervous, indeed mark reported that he two had this impression. But having watched him a lot we were of the view that the trick would be to give him nothing to inspire or settle him and Mark played a blinder, looking every inch the top professional, also resplendent in pale blue, that he now is. We have known for a few weeks that mark was close to getting back on track and just needed something to light the blue touch paper, well that Bolton stage seems to do the job!

97,180,44,140,0,30c. Not too shabby a first leg with the darts. The 180 was smooth and Mark rythm and pace were perfect. Leg 2 was probably Toni^s best and Mark left 40 after 15 darts including another 180, this presented a 126 shot for some latin inspiration maybe? No and Mark took out tops dart 1. A good lead on the board and the confidence of some quality scoring started to show and now Mark put in his best leg of the match, 140,45,180,58,78c. Now could Mark close it out or would Toni dig in and throw more relaxed darts? A little of both happened but this was some way to close out a game, 97,100,140,124 40c (1dart). A 13 darter against the darts. In a superb piece of play when on a 164 out shot, Mark was momentarily distracted by a shout out. he paused re focused, refused the shot at the bull and placed a solid single 10. Antonio hit a 133 to put the pressure on, but with knowledge of having 3 darts Mark needed only 1!

Not bad eh! In my view the performance of the opening nights TV games in terms of standard. Mark hit 3 x 180^s, 3 x 140^s, a 124 and 5 other scores over 95. 12 out of 17 scoring visits were over 95 and 10 were 100 or more! An average of a fraction under 99 and for the last 3 legs well over 100. From a spectators view it was a great performance and nice to see my friend looking like himself, of course he was back were he belongs.

It also completed a treble of 1st game main stage appearances and wins!

After a few minutes to collect our baggage and thanks our guests we were off down the motorway in a repeat of last years first night escape. An extra night away from the hussle and bussle of Bolton seems to keep everyone relaxed ready for the forthcoming challenge.


Day 2 : Stuart Kellett

The Team was re assembled and this time the full compliment was required so The Doctor returned for driving duties, the Ginga Slinga swelled the numbers and added that sardonic wit that can [u]sometimes[/u] be most helpful. Again the drive was over 2 hours but well within the planned schedule, another mixed grill for The Rhino and the great debate about the iron content of peas followed!

Similar tactics to the night before were employed with a very early registration and then relaxation and enjoyment the order of the evening. Soon enough though it was back to the practice room for the usual tuning up practice. I have to say that I expected good things here. Stuart is a good player who will achieve much in the pro darts world. he and Mark had played 3 times before that I was aware of, all three were interesting to say the least, but more often they had brought the best out of Mark. A good start seemed important.

I cannot give a leg by leg account here, it was far too great a game to record everything. Mark roared off to a phenomenal start, much like against Andy Gilding last year. If my recall is correct 5-1 was achieved in what seemed like minutes. Stuart was not playing badly and never looked like giving up, but Mile High was in full effect here! However, Stuart was well supported by a vocal and vociferous bunch who helped him to relax a little and really hit Mark back, despite Mark doing little wrong Stuart found a new gear and was only 4-6 down at the break. Despite great darts from both it was Stuart who took both the next 2 legs and at 6-6 all things looked twitchy. However Mark was close to his best here and the next leg showed his true mettle. 121,135, 180 and 66c t14 d12 for 11 darts! he did not look back and despite Stuart again not giving in and playing strongly in every leg Mark came through 9-6. he was delighted both with the win and the high quality of the match , which would have graced any stage. I strongly advise you to watch Stuart at major events as I am pretty sure he has the makings of a great stage player.

Again we chose to head for home till the following day, on the way back we were informed that the draw had worked its magic and a tie against one of Marks oldest darting friends, Jabba Caven, was awaiting us the next afternoon.


Day 3 : Jabba

Again the full Team Hylton was in effect, although The Cap was cheering/supporting from a distance! last years Saturday mascot 9 Volt was the final member of the outfit. This time a very smooth journey in just over 1 hour was enjoyed. Mark did not seem quite himself and although a very relaxed brunch was enjoyed I deducted a few of the tell tale signs. I think the stresses and strains of recent months and the adrenaline of 2 very important games had meant a limited fuel supply for "Mile High" somewhat like Manchester airport! However the game proved to be a watchers delight, for the neutral.

Mark stole the first leg which had been evenly scrappy. A mix of strong darts  and mixed stuff from Jabba meant that Mark had a 4-1 lead. However that did not really reflect the game and a few slips from Mark and some very high scoring from Jabba meant 5-5 at the break, despite Mark now throwing more steadily Jamie seamed to take control and eased into a 7-5 lead. Mark hit back with the next leg and in the 14th produced the best dart I have ever seen live. needing 92 to level the game Mark hit 25 and then 17. The bull was needed and not visible from any angle, Mark could not move to his right without asking markers / officials to move so stepped to the left and after quite a pause somehow hit the bull to claim the leg! The crowd went wild and even Jabba admitted in his interview that the dart was even better than The Power^s famous tournament winning bull. However it was Jabba^s darts more than words that counted his next leg was a 13 darter including 3 ton pluses, superb stuff at a vital time. The pressure on Mark to hold was intense and despite a great scoring leg from Mark a very good miss at double 2 ensured that madhouse lived up to its name as Jabba took his chance and prevented a deciding leg. Overall the result was fair as Jabba seemed the more consistent and in control of both himself and the game after the midway point.

As sad as it is to exit an event when you know your playing well, indeed some very high profile folk quietly suggested to Mark that he might win the event if he continued playing that well, it is always tough to play a friend and Jabba^s last leg win over Joe Cullen was greeted with cheers from all of Team Hylton, even though we were again safely tucked up at home.

So the end of another year in Bolton and a quality event, congrats to Mark, Jamie and our old nemesis and now friendly rival Dennis ovens who again showed his class even when not at his best. Again I look forward to this event more and more, despite it being a bit of an illusion for new players, with the 15 mins of fame often not helping players (John Jukes for example). It has other strengths and seems to bring the best from some folk!

So we at Team Hylton including Mark have all retired back to our sick beds, illness abounds recently and it would be nice to all be healthy again sooner rather than later. Still it again shows the never say spirit and belief that we all share bodes well again for the rest of 2012.

Before signing off I must thank some people :


Sponsors : We have been very fortunate again to be supported by some of the nicest folk and supportive organisations. Special Thanks : Red Dragon Darts, Wingate Electrical and Securican

VIP Guests : This event saw us try a new idea, a combination of Sponsorship and VIP treatment direct from us at LPKOD. 3 packages were offered and accepted due to the limited space available. So many thanks to :

Paul Eccleshall & Andy - Securican

Mark Whitworth & Ian Keeling - M Whitworth Plumbing

Darren McClosky - Daz for Darts


It was truly our pleasure to welcome all the above to the event and really hope that they enjoyed their evening which included, Tickets to the night of the package, Patch on Shirt, Signature Darts, Signed Souvenirs and the company of the players and unique insight into the way a combination of relaxation and determined preparation goes into every match and every day at The UK Open! One guest enjoyed the occasion enough to join us the following day and have a ringside seat on Saturday afternoon as well, courtesy of Peter Manly.

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