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Article: Pub hits bullseye as fans flock to darts

Pub hits bullseye as fans flock to darts

Darts fans crammed into their local last night to see four of the world’s best players in action. Five times world champion Raymond Van Barneveld, more used to playing in front of thousands, was the star draw at the more modest surroundings of The Cleveland Arms, in Wolverhampton.

Around 400 fans, who paid £10 each to see exhibition matches involving Raymond at the East Park pub, were even treated to their own big screen to watch the arrows in detail.

The 41-year-old Dutch master, nicknamed Barney, said: "This is great fun. The atmosphere in Wolverhampton during the Grand Slam of Darts at The Civic is also brilliant.

"The reaction from the fans here is marvellous. Screening of the Darts Premier League on Sky has taken interest in the sport to another level."

Last night Barney teamed with fellow Dutchman and world number 17 Vincent Van Der Voort, aged 33, who said: "I have to keep pinching myself because I think I am dreaming when I see how big darts has become."

The pair played as the Netherlands against an England side made up of six times world semi-finalist Wayne ‘Hawaii 501’ Mardle and World No 7 Adrian ‘Jackpot’ Lewis, tipped as a future world champion.

Adrian, who only turned pro five years ago, said: "Darts is now the second most watched sport in the UK. Nights like this are fantastic because they allow us to mingle with the fans."

Each player found time to take on three customers during the evening. All four stars are now heading to the UK Open which starts in Bolton at the weekend.

Among those watching the event, won 3-2 by the England team, was Councillor Keith Inston who said: "It was an absolutely brilliant night with an atmosphere like New Year’s Eve. The place was packed and everybody behaved themselves while having a good time. It was the first time the Dutch players had been there and they want to come back as soon as possible."

Organiser Will Adamson said: "I could have sold this out three times over. The interest has been incredible."

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