The DAWG at the England Classic
Headed down to the closest ranking tournament for the venue of the year for me at Bunn Leisure Park at Selsey.It was a trip where my thoughts of the desperation for qualification for TV comps were a long way from my mind. With a top 16 spot in the Winmau World Masters secured at no11, a Zuiderduin Masters spot secured at no6 and Lakeside World Championships spot secured as a seed in top 16 the drive was all the more pleasant. Your goals for the year are to make the tv stages of the three Tournaments that are screened. Iv done that so the hours of travelling,time off work and getting home in the early hours of the morning have paid off for me. I^m one of the fortunate ones and always have a thought for some of my other fellow players who over last few weeks or next few days will see their efforts to qualify through the system have all been in vain. Some wont even be in the qualifiers For the Masters or the Lakeside World pro in Hull in a few weeks. For those that are these difficult qualifiers are their last chance saloon.
I arrived for the Early Bird comp on the Fri evening wondering if I^m gonna get a stinking draw i usually get there. Yep i did I got Dutch Jimmy Hendricks. Jimmy^s weekend was always gonna be about the Saturday singles being one of those who on the tail end of ranking points table battling for a Lakeside spot. Although the tent was cold and a bit of draught but had we had the weather we experienced the week before down south it had been OK. Although conditions were not ideal for darts but we had a good match. Unfortunately i was on the wrong end of a 4-3 but missed doubles had cost me badly with 3 darts at a double 1st in 3 of the legs Jimmy won. Still happy with the way i played i headed of for an early night. James Wilson of Yorkshire beat Stephen Bunting in the final. Im sure not many people know James was born in Weston Super mare went on to win the Early Bird Competition. Not many people know that James back in the day, was a star prize winner on Bulls-eye. Having seen the said show repeated on challenge tv with his mum answering all the questions and hitting 85 on the 101 or more, we can see where his talent for darts was inherited from. I met his Mum too this year at the British Open.
With the points chasers needing a good England Classic singles draw, as always there were couple I^m sure the players just did not want Wayne Warren v Jeffery de Graff, Which Jeffery won. Willy van der Weil v Scott Waites which Scott won. I won my 1st match 3-2 against Paul Roe of Berkshire. At 2-2 we were having a good game but the last leg was rather scrappy affair, but if you win them, they don^t feel so bad. after having a bye 1st rd and winning i found myself in last 128. Martin Phillips my Red Dragon team mate was to be my next opponent. We were to play on the TV lane. Some like the TV lane and some don^t. I like playing on it. I think the live stream is a good thing. Commentary is done well by Richard Ashdown and Bobby George so im sure its entertaining and informative. Some forget Its not supposed to be trying to replace any TV coverage or their standard but a chance for the veiwers to get a look at some tournament action. It is getting better and people do enjoy watching. Back to the match. I won the bull up and after 1 missed dart at tops for 76, Martin took the 1st leg, Second leg Martin took with the darts so i went 2 legs down. The 3rd leg i shot a 156 to take the leg. Although id hit a 180 in last leg sat on 40, Phillips shot out to win match 3-1. Id had a high 29av and Martin a High 28av. Martin ended up being knocked out in last 32 by Richie George my pairs partner in last 32. Martins wait for comfirmed qualification for Lakeside goes to the last ranking competition next weekend in Romania. Lovely fella and proper Legend so i wish him luck for that.We ended the singles down to 4 to play in the Staged finals on Sunday. Martin atkins would play Glen Durrant and Scott Waites would play Isle of Wights Tony Broughton.
Saturday still held plenty toplay for as the Mens pairs started. I was playing for the 4th time Red Dragon team mate Richie George. We had bit of success the 1st 3 times as we had made last 8 at Granite City, a semi final in Belgium open and lost in Final to Waites and Thompson in British pen final in Bridlington. We started slowly to say the least but eased by Welsh lads M.George and G.Dryer 3-0. Next up was two lads from the North East, Alan Edwards and James Forester. Alan was stand by man for the Matchplay to be played on the Sunday at no9 in the England rankings. They took a 2-0 lead but a scrappy 3rd leg changed the match. We were leading comfortably when Richie went for the wrong shot. The chalker was leaving the shot left in the centre and the shot scored on the outside. So chalking backwards were us southerners are concerned.We got it eventually and went on to win 3-2 after going for the wrong shot a further 2 times. Next up were Ash Khyat and Sam Head. Two under 21 starlets who im sure we will hear plenty of in the future. It was not their day as we punished a few bad scores they had to win 3-0. Gary Robson and James Wilson were our next opponents. Slow starters again and we go 2-0 down but a last 16 darter saw us through 3-2 winners but Robbo still had 1dart at double 7 to win match. Life was not getting any easier as we played Gary Stone and my Dorset Managers player of the year team mate Ben Ward. In time honoured fashion we went 2-0 down for a change !!!!! We battled back with a great 3rd leg and with Ben missing 3 darts to knock us out i hit double top to take it down the last. We made no mistake of our chance to take the match and went through 3-2. The semi final was a repeat of the British Open pairs final 2 weeks earlier against Scott Waites and Garry Thompson. We won the bull up and took the 1st leg with myself hitting double 10. Second went to the Yorkshire pair.The third again a scrappy leg and with Waies missing double, Richie shot out. So 2-1 up and the 1st 4 throws were nothing under a ton. Thompson had missed 2 darts to take the leg and sat on tops i missed with three darts. Waites then missed double 5 with 3 and Richie shot the double 10. So we had avenged the defeat of 2 weeks ago in the final and headed to the final on the Sunday.
The Sunday soon arrived with Rain and Cold winds which made the Three^s in the Marquee very testing. I was playing in the 1st Ever England Matchplay with the top 8 men from the England Darts Rankings. There was a ladies event too with the top 4 from the ladies ranking. Glen Durrant seeded no1 played Scott Waites (8) up 1st at 10:30am. Unfortunatly the early start and weather meant the first round was played sadly infront of only a handful. This was streamed live on the web too. Glen had continued to play as he had all day on saturday and eased by Scotty too Hotty 5-2. Garry Thompson(4) played Paul Hogan(5) and a tight match saw Hogan win 5-4. James Wilson(2) played me (7) and at 4-3 down i missed 3 darts to take it down the last. So lost out 5-3. Id encountred problems with a draught sending my darts in the board Taylor esque which is not how i throw at all. Id told caller Nick Rolls i was having problems in leg 1 but wanted to continue as not wishing to put James off. I asked James after the match was he having problems and he said yeah mate but i was winning !!!!! Some sound advice from Mr Too Hotty "you wear Pink and throw like a girl so your gonna have trouble with draught". Iv taken these tips on board and im now going to be wearing the manly colour of Purple Violet !!!!!! Martin Atkins(3) played John Walton(6) with Assasin winning 5-3. It was on to the Ladies and Lisa Ashton(1) played Zoe Jones(4). Zoe ran out worthy winner 4-3.The second Ladies game saw Deta Hedman(2) play Trina Gulliver in a game of few chances and 4-1 win to Deta with a 30.81 av. This was higher than any of the previous mens matches and Trina had a not too Shabby 27.35av. The men were back up with Durrant beating Hogan 5-1 and Wilson loosing out with a 30av 5-4 to Atkins. So we were at the finals with Zoe playing Deta in a nail biter, but the averages were not the best as the tenseness of the match saw them stuggle to finish on a couple of legs. Red Dragons Zoe Jones was crowned Womens Matchplay Champion with a 5-4 scoreline. Well done to Zoe. Mens final was final match of the Matchplay with a thrilling final between Atkins and Durrant. It went eventually to Martin Atkins 6-4 Crownig him Mens Matchplay Champion and a Team Red Dragon double.
All England Classic finals were still left to play plus the Womens and Mens Singles semi finals. I had the pairs final to play in against Tony Eccles and Glen Durrant. Richie had won the Bull up. We started the match well and i hit a 180 1st throw but we backed it with nothing of not so lost the leg. So 1-0 down. A good leg against the darts saw us level the score but we were imediatly broken back to still be a leg adrift at 2-1 down. Eccles missed 2 darts to take the match leaving me 86 to shoot out on which i managed with my last dart in double 8. With the darts a 59, 60 start we found ourselves staring down the barrel as Durrant and Eccles turned the throw imediatly. Eccles hit the match winning double to become England Classic Pairs Champions 3-2. It was another final Richie and I had been on the wrong end of. We left the stage knowing we had given our best and conducted ourselves in a gentlemanly manner every time placed our toe firmly behind the Oche.
All the results as there are so many names to list can be found on the England Darts Organisation website. Over and out from me for this Ranking season. We all start again in a couple of weeks time. Thanks to Sponsors Red Dragon, Motor-vation Garage, Designs By Sazz who are with me for another season. Welcome to the Two new ones for their 1st full season Branksome Carpets and New Queen at Avon, Christchurch public house where i threw my 1st darts ever.