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Article: League Of Ledgends

League Of Ledgends


Eric Bristow turned back the clock to his 1980s heyday with a dramatic 7-5 win against Bobby George in the League of Legends at Purfleet^s Circus Tavern.

The five-time former world champion repeated his victory over George in the 1980 world final as he belied his status as a 5/1 underdog to turn over the sponsors^ pre-tournament second favourite.

The Crafty Cockney always appeared to hold the upper hand and when he hit double 15, having missed the bull on his previous visit to the oche, it put him one leg away from victory at 6-4.

In the next leg it was George whose shot at the bullseye just evaded its target when on a 161 finish but he checked out to make it 6-5.

Yet Bristow was full of determination against his old rival and after reaching his favourite double 16 in the final leg and finding the single with his first dart, he checked out on double eight to record another famous triumph.

"Bobby has been the leader of our pack on the exhibition circuit recently and I expected him to beat me tonight," admitted Bristow.

"But I^ve won my first game and now I can go home, practise like anything and I^ll beat the lot of them!"

The Leek-based legend relished the fantastic atmosphere within the venue and added: "I enjoyed seeing people in the same seats as they were 15 years ago. There were people supporting me and John Lowe and some of them are happy and some of them are not.

"I^m bubbling now because I^ve got two points on the board - I^m going to go on and win this thing now!"

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Dave Whitcombe confounded the bookmakers^ expectations by inflicting a 7-3 defeat on John Lowe in their opening League of Legends match.

The Kent publican was the 7/4 outsider with the sponsors but indicated he could be a dark horse for the title with a fluent victory.

"I actually thought it was quite an even game," said Whitcombe, a two-time former World Championship runner-up.

"The difference was that I finished better than John. We were evenly matched but when we got down to the doubles I went out.

"I was very nervous because we all want to produce a great product, we all know we can play well and we want to do well for everyone we know.

"It was a fabulous atmosphere and completely different to what we are used to in some ways in that everyone in the crowd appreciates good darts."

Lowe was phlegmatic about his loss and said: "I was playing really well in the practice room but it was totally different when I got on stage.

"But I^ll get over it - it^s only one setback."

Bob Anderson showed why he was the pre-tournament favourite for the League of Legends when he battled back to force a 6-6 draw with Peter Evison.

The 60-year-old from Clevedon looked set for a heavy defeat when he trailed 4-1 and 5-2 but dug in and showed the quality that earned him the 1988 world title.

A 68 finish reduced Anderson^s arrears to 6-5 and despite a few nerves in the final leg, he took out double eight to share the points with the Fen Tiger.

"It was a tremendous game," said the Limestone Cowboy. "I thought when the draw came out that I had the toughest match on the opening night.

"I^m delighted to have played him and got a point because it means I won^t have to play him later in the event to try to reach the semi-finals.

"I^m looking forward to perhaps playing him on finals night (August 22).

"I enjoyed it out there - not so much when I was 4-1 down but especially so when I made it 6-6. I wasn^t prepared to lie down.

"It was a terrific atmosphere and I was very proud to be part of it. I can^t wait now for Blackburn on June 20."

Evison admitted he thought he had done enough when he was on the brink of success.

"That match showed how the League of Legends is going to be - no win is guaranteed," said the 44-year-old from Middlesex.

"When I got to six legs I thought I had done my job but I hadn^t - I should have buried him. I let him off.

"Hopefully I will see Bob in the final and if I do I won^t let him off that time."

Keith Deller made history when he won the first ever League of Legends match with a 7-5 victory against Cliff Lazarenko at Purfleet^s Circus Tavern.

The 1983 world champion was never behind after taking the opener with a 65 checkout and although Big Cliff hit back to draw level at 2-2, a run of three consecutive legs sent Deller clear.

However, Lazarenko, never one to give up, recovered to trail 6-5 and then notched the only 180 of the match to put himself in with a chance of a 6-6 draw.

But the Wellingborough heavyweight missed tops to earn a point and Deller took out double 10 to establish himself as the early leader in the table.

"That was the hardest match I will play in the League of Legends because Cliff is my best mate," said Deller. "I was very nervous and I missed six or seven chances to get a 180, which annoyed me. I kept getting the first two darts in the treble 20, which raised the crowd^s expectations.

"I think the atmosphere was like a final. It was absolutely fantastic. Cliff and I drew the short straw because nobody wanted to go on first, but I^ve got the win and now I^m into the tournament.

"I want to win the League of Legends and I^m good enough to do it. I will get better and better and I^m as keyed up as I was at my peak."

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News update - 27/05/08

Cowboy backed to gun down Legends

Bob Anderson has been shortened to 13-8 favourite by the sponsors for the inaugural League of Legends darts tournament, which begins at Purfleet’s Circus Tavern on Friday.

The Limestone Cowboy launches his bid for glory against Peter Evison and punters are putting their faith in the 60-year-old, who was still competing at the highest level up to the end of last year.

Evison, who will celebrate his 44th birthday tomorrow (Tuesday) and is the youngest competitor in the event, has also been the subject of strong support and is in to 7-1 to lift the trophy on August 22.

Betfred PR spokesman Jon Wilde said: "Punters clearly feel Bob Anderson will have a touch more match-sharpness than his rivals and that his price represents good value. He was still mixing it with the world’s best players when he left the PDC, which can only be an advantage over a league format.

"Plenty of people keep telling me that Peter Evison is a dark horse and that is reflected in the money we have taken for the ‘Fen Tiger’. If he can turn over Anderson on Friday then it could lead to a big shake-up in the outright market, especially if one or two of the other favourites are also beaten." League of Legends outright betting: 13-8 (from 7-4) Bob Anderson, 7-2 Bobby George, 5-1 (from 9-2) Keith Deller, 7-1 Peter Evison, John Lowe, 10-1 Dave Whitcombe, 14-1 Cliff Lazarenko, 16-1 Eric Bristow.

Opening round of matches (May 30, Circus Tavern, Purfleet)

1-2 Keith Deller 4-1 Draw 3-1 Cliff Lazarenko

2-5 Bob Anderson 4-1 Draw 4-1 Peter Evison

10-11 John Lowe 7-2 Draw 7-4 Dave Whitcombe

1-3 Bobby George 4-1 Draw 5-1 Eric Bristow

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News update - 26/05/08

Revenge would be sweet for Bobby

Bobby George is thirsting for revenge when he and Eric Bristow re-enact one of the most famous darts matches of all time on the opening night of the League of Legends.

The star duo fought out a classic final of the 1980 World Championship, won 5-3 by Bristow, in the first darts match that truly captured the public’s imagination.

Now they will do it all over again on May 30 at the Circus Tavern, Purfleet, Essex, where eight of the most famous darts players in history return to the big time as they relive their battles of yesteryear at venues around England during the summer.

"I can’t wait to get started – there isn’t long to go now," said 62-year-old George, from Colchester, about the League of Legends, which will be televised live on Setanta Sports on eight Friday nights between May 30 and August 22.

"I see all the other seven players as big rivals in my quest to become the champion. But the only one I’m concerned with at the moment is Eric because I’m playing him first. I’ll sort him out and then look to the next player!"

But Bristow, a five-time world champion, is determined that ‘Bobby Dazzler’ will not gain revenge for that 1980 defeat in Stoke-on-Trent and wants to prove a point to those dismissing him as a title contender.

Rated the 16/1 outsider in the sponsors’ betting, the 51-year-old is not used to being an also-ran and is eager to show he still has the competitive edge despite being away from tournament action for the last few years.

"The first game will be important for me because it’s against Bobby George, who is playing very well, and if I beat him my odds will tumble," said the ‘Crafty Cockney’.

"It will be a tough game because Bobby recently got to the final of a tournament in Holland. If I can take him out in that first game it will shut everyone up!"

In the other matches on the opening night, tournament favourite Bob Anderson, who quit the PDC circuit at the start of this year specifically to join the League of Legends, meets Peter Evison, while 1983 world champion Keith Deller takes on Cliff Lazarenko.

John Lowe, the only man to have been world champion in three different decades, is up against Dave Whitcombe – and has been preparing thoroughly for his return to the competitive arena.

"I’ve been relishing getting started for the last few months and now I only have another few days to go – that shows how much I’ve been looking forward to it," said Lowe, 62, from Chesterfield.

"I’ve been getting ready in my own little way, which might be quite different to the other players. The main thing I’ve been doing is getting my mind right, making sure I’m mentally fit as well as having my game in good shape. I’m in this to compete - I’m not here to make the numbers up."

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News update - 10/05/08

The countdown is on...

Excitement is building among the eight protagonists as the clock ticks down to the opening night of the League of Legends at Purfleet’s Circus Tavern on May 30.

The most illustrious names of the sport’s 1980s golden era return to the big time this summer in an eagerly-awaited new competition to be broadcast live by Setanta Sports on eight Friday nights, climaxing with the August 22 finale.

Eric Bristow, John Lowe, Bob Anderson and Cliff Lazarenko launched the event this week at Old Trafford, home of Manchester United, along with Betfred chairman Fred Done - and they cannot wait to relive their battles of yesteryear.

"We’ve all been talking about it for months and now even just thinking about it gets the adrenalin going," said Bristow, a five-time former world champion nicknamed The Crafty Cockney, at the launch. "It’s only three weeks away now and we are all getting ready and preparing in our own way.

"This is a great thing for the future of darts because it’s an independent event featuring eight people that had retired but who still want to go up there and beat each other on stage. That’s the way it should be and the way it has been for the last 30 years. It opens the door for great players to remain competitive at the game they love.

"It will be a fun night out for all the fans. The older generation who watched us in the eighties will be sitting in the audience and the memories are sure to come flooding back. And they will bring their families along to join in the fun.

"We will be doing the walk-ons to our chosen music, we have some great venues and a superb stage set – everything is in place for a terrific event and it’s just up to us to play the darts."

Bobby George, Keith Deller, Dave Whitcombe and Peter Evison are the other players involved, with the eight all facing each other once over the first seven weeks before the top four in the table at the end of the round-robin stage contest the semi-finals.

The League of Legends will also visit Blackburn, Birmingham, Batley, Bridlington, Reading and Stoke-on-Trent, with the semi-finals and final taking place at the Circus Tavern on August 22.

Bob Anderson, who has quit the main tour specifically to join the League of Legends, believes the competition is a major step forward for darts.

"This is the most exciting prospect I’ve had for years, even though I played in the PDC World Championship as recently as last December," said The Limestone Cowboy. "It’s a whole new venture and a chance to lock horns with a lot of old adversaries.

"I think we will have tremendous crowds, both young and old. The older folks will want to come back and see us all again and meet old friends and as for the youngsters…let’s show them what we can do."

Story By: Betfred.Com


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