The Harold Club in Low Moor, Bradford hosted The Grand Finals for the 2nd consecutive year. A busy and hectic day ahead as Youth, Ladies and Main Event Finals along with the warm up Doubles event all to be played out throughout the day. 49 players had qualified by right for The Main Event having battled all year to accumulate the 115 point tally at up to 23 individual tournaments held mainly in the Leeds / Bradford areas although clubs in towns such as Pontefract, Keighley and Barnsley etc also held competitions. Unfortunately both Dave Smith and Martin Atkins had to withdraw due to other major competition clashes, no doubt with 4 tournament wins apiece they would have both been short odds to add The Grand Final Trophy to their tally this year. Title holder Brian Dawson unable to play enough tournaments this year to qualify as he concentrated most of his efforts on The BDO circuit was another major player missing as was Dean Winstanley for the same reason. Still plenty of quality in the 47 players lining up to do battle with scope for the less familiar players to grab some glory and enhance their own reputations.
Some very strong looking Pairs kicked off proceedings around 12.30 pm. A shock in store early on as co favourites Thompson and Calvert were dumped out 2-0 by Kippax pair Harrison and Brown. The Copley / Lawrence pairing also bowed out at the last 32 stage with an unlucky draw against Delderfield and Kershaw. In the Semi’s Leeds young guns Monaghan and Hewitt and Shipley pair Delderfield and Kershaw were both strong favourites to contest the final. Castleford duo Woodhouse and Milburn and Chesterfield pair Tye and McCracken had other ideas though and threw superbly to upset the odds with 2-1 and 2-0 victories respectively. The final went down to the wire with Woodhouse and Milburn coming out on top to claim the £200 prize. 25/1 shots at the start of the comp they played superbly all the way through especially Lance who appeared to throw like a man possessed at times especially in the Quarters against Winpenny and Esteve.
17 year old Josh Thompson from Rotherham came through a tough top half of the Youths draw defeating Kyle Richardson and holder Brandon Walsh in fine style before overcoming Skipton Lion Ryan Hogarth 3-1 in the final to pocket the £150 top prize.
With Penny Shaw opting to play in The Main Event the task for the other 5 ladies contesting the Ladies Finals became considerably easier, however the 5 battling it out were all of proven quality with Laura Tye claiming the £150 winners prize with a 3-0 victory over Louise Simmonds in the Final.
Unfortunately no records were kept of the Prelim Round needed to whittle the field down to 32, with only stats and scores from some of the selected games available. Adam Tooley ( 19.21 ) looked certain to go 2-0 up on Steve Richardson ( 23.95 ) having thrown well in leg 2 to leave 36 after 15 darts, however the doubles proved elusive as he missed 9 darts to let Steve in to steal in 22 darts. Those missed darts changed the whole course of the game as Steve grew in stature with further 16 and 20 dart legs for victory as Adam still rueing those misses faded away in the end. After his heroics in the doubles Lance Milburn ( 19.14 ) started clear favourite to beat commitee man Paul Hick ( 22.00 ) who had shown precious little form all season. Nothing though is predictable in darts as Hick produced by far his best darts all season to take legs 2 and 3 in 16 and 17 darts, had he not wasted a hatful at the double in the final leg his average would have been around the ( 26.00 ) mark which most players would be extremely happy with. Bizarre turn of events elsewhere as Andy McCracken conceded his game to Wayne Woodhouse when 1-0 down. Wayne just as surprised as everyone else given Andy’s decent showing in the doubles and the amount of prize money at stake, Some time afterwards though Andy was taken ill outside the venue which in some way may have explained his reason for conceding the game earlier. Stuart Monaghan had to be close to his best to see of a very spirited effort from fast throwing Simon Wintle 3 legs to 1, while Pete Riley edged out Dave Wilson in a thriller on the end board. Penny Shaw the only female in the line up could have took the easier option of entering The Ladies Finals with only 5 other players in the draw and a more realistic chance of a title and greater prize money but hats off to her for taking her chances in The Main Finals, no room for sentiment though as Anthony Wort ended her challenge early on. Also departing at this stage were Walsh, Sharp, Ignatowski, Palmer, Holmes, Sanderson, Hall, Hesslegrave and Alan Hannah who despite losing narrowly claimed to have played his best darts all season in his prelim game.
Brendan Marren 3-1 Pete Riley Josh Scales 3-1 Mick Wiltshire Darren Hale 3-2 Jaron Esteve Mark Helliwell 3-2 Jonathan Daniels Tony Darlow 3-0 Steve Richardson Paul Hick 3-1 Kevin Gray Colin Lawrence 3-0 Andy Wadsworth Bryan Harrison 3-2 Trevor Tye Les Delderfield 3-2 Garry Thompson Dave Copley 3-0 Dave Calvert Jonathan Hewitt 3-0 Anthony Wort Craig Nelmes 3-0 Ian Brown Simon Regan 3-2 Wayne Woodhouse Stuart Monaghan 3-2 Bob Pinder Paul Doherty 3-1 Steve Hattersley Willie Kershaw 3-0 Steve Kelly
The luck of the draw brought together two of the strongly fancied players early in Les Delderfield and Garry Thompson. A fairly miserable day for Lakeside bound Garry, after departing early in The Pairs he then missed 3 darts at doubles for a 3-1 win only to see Les take full advantage and edge through at his expense. Ton machine Dave Copley ( 27.83 ) fired in 10 straight 100’s to stroll to a comprehensive 3-0 victory over Dave Calvert ( 22.82 ) who just wasn’t allowed to get into the game. A similar clinical performance from Jonathan Hewitt ( 27.83 ) as he finished with a show stopping bullseye and tops on 90 for a comfortable 3-0 victory over Anthony Wort ( 20.70 ) . Paul Hick continued to upset the form book with a fine win over Kevin Gray, making a mockery so far of his 80/1 odds at the start of the tournament. Dark horse contenders Pinder, Daniels, Woodhouse and Esteve all went out at this stage in tight 3-2 defeats to fellow players of a similar stature. No other shocks as fancied runners Marren and Kershaw swept through to the last 16 stage.
Brendan Marren 3-0 Josh Scales Darren Hale 3-1 Mark Helliwell Tony Darlow 3-1 Paul Hick Colin Lawrence 3-2 Bryan Harrison Dave Copley 3-1 Les Delderfield Jonathan Hewitt 3-2 Craig Nelmes Stuart Monaghan 3-1 Simon Regan Willie Kershaw 3-2 Paul Doherty
So often it seems alot of players save their best form for The Finals. Milburn and Hick for example and now Bradford’s Paul Doherty rolling back the years with a vintage display over the 2nd favourite Willie Kershaw. The 33/1 shot nicknamed ‘ The Choirboy ‘ for his angelic looks did everything right apart from take out the winning double as Kershaw breathed a huge sigh of relief to come through 3-2. The favourite for the title Les Delderfield ( 26.65 ) was handed the toughest of draws, after Thompson in Round 1 he then had to face a player in blistering form in Dave Copley ( 26.51 ). This time only a brief reprieve for Les as Dave missed a dart at double 16 for a 3-0 win but made no mistake 2 legs later on tops to win 3-1 in a typically high scoring encounter between these two. All the other games were won by the players higher in the form guide table and the shortest odds for the title as Tony Darlow at only 12 /1 was the highest priced victor left after ending Paul Hick’s brave resistance.
Brendan Marren 3-0 Darren Hale Colin Lawrence 3-1 Tony Darlow Dave Copley 3-0 Jonathan Hewitt Willie Kershaw 3-0 Stuart Monaghan
The Quarter Finals all went with the form book as all 4 victors started as slight favourites over their opponents although they were all pretty close in the betting, ranging from Willie Kershaw at 100/30 to Tony Darlow at 12/1. Hemsworth quiert man Colin Lawrence ( 25.58 ) booked his place in the Semi’s with a hard fought 3-1 win over Tony Darlow ( 25.03 ) who really should have taken the game into a decider but ended up having a double 1 nightmare in the end in leg 4, missing a total of 14 darts in all after leaving 25 after just 12 darts allowing Colin to snatch it on double 2 after missing 9 previous darts himself, a superb game up until that point as seemingly the doubles appeared to shrink before your eyes with every missed opportunity. Rather surprisingly the other 3 ties all appeared a little one sided with 3-0 scorelines suggesting comfortable passages although they were probably anything but.
SEMI FINAL 1
Brendan Marren ( 28.38 ) 3-1 ( 24.10 ) Colin Lawrence
7/2 third favourite at start of play Brendan Marren always looked in control of his semi final against 7/1 shot Colin Lawrence. The Keighley player took charge from the off to take take the opening legs in 19 and 21 darts as Colin struggled to score consistently. A solid leg 3 from Colin on throw with a 180 helped him take it in 17 darts with Brendan poised on 46. The comeback was to be short lived though as Brendan snuffed out the danger in leg 4 with 180 to open then a clinical 77 finish to seal the match in 14 darts with Colin well in arrears. 9 x 100 pluses for Brendan in an all round rock solid display while Colin hit 6 x 100 pluses but had allowed Brendan too much leeway early on and that probably cost him the game in the end.
SEMI FINAL 2
Willie Kershaw ( 25.08 ) 3-2 ( 25.19 ) Dave Copley
The 2nd Semi Final all boiled down to a tense and nerve jangling finish in which both players had chances to win. 100/30 second favourite Willie Kershaw prevailing in the end after almost blowing it after 2 x 180 scores put him in complete command of the final leg only to falter with 9 missed darts at doubles to allow Dave two visits to pinch an unlikely victory. With a final place at stake though the chances went begging for Dave as Willie finally nailed double 2 and wiped the sweat from his brow once again. Up until that dramatic finale the match had gone with throw with neither player able to wrest the initiative, the player with the throw taking out quick finishes of 32, 66, 101 and 100 to deny the other player an opportunity to break the throw. Those 4 legs taken in 21, 21, 15 and 21 darts, all solid and steady if fairly unspectacular. The final leg being totally out of sink with what had gone on before it with Dave’s steady tons deserting him for the first 4 visits while Willie’s sequence of scores went 180, 28, 46, 180 to give him first crack before eventually taking the leg and the match in 24 darts. 3 x 180’s and 5 x 100 pluses for the big man from Shipley, while Thurnscoe star Dave hit 10 x 100 scores and 1 x 140.
Willie Kershaw ( 27.15 ) 4-3 ( 27.46 ) Brendan Marren
The 2010 Grand Final featured the players who finished the season ranked 1 and 2 and who started the day 2nd and 3rd favourites to lift the title, with both players actually having a strong case beforehand to labelled the favourite themselves given their form and class. It was No 1 ranked Brendan who came out of the traps quickest, breaking the throw with a crisp 113 finish in 15 darts. The response from Willie was swift as he reeled off the next 3 legs in 15, 16 and 15 darts with a barrage of power scoring to leave Brendan staring down the barrel. The Keighley star though is as cool as a cucumber and doesn’t panic in these kind of situations as he produced a superb 14 darter to break back and stay in the game, then level up with a less convincing 22 darter as Willie faltered a little on his scoring for the first time in the match. With the throw in the final leg Willie nicknamed ‘ The Grappler ‘ as he fits the profile of a 70’s pro wrestler so well with his bald head and burley build, he would have been an ideal tag team partner for ‘ Big Daddy ‘ back in the day. As it was though he was hitting Brendan with some hefty looking forearm smashes in the decider with 2 x 140’s and 1 x 100 to leave him in a daze. Those scores softened Brendan up and led to a final body slam and submission as Willie landed the double 16 for victory and add his name to an exclusive list of previous Grand Slam winners and claim a well deserved cheque for £600.
An excellent Finals day, superbly organised and going exactly to plan to finish around 7 to 7.30 pm. The Club hosted the event very well on the day, the only slight critisism though would be that the room is a little small to accomodate so many players for such a major event and meant playing space and room around the boards were very tight with spectators having to be careful not to disrupt the players as they walked by to the exit and toilets, sunlight shining through the window at the far end and onto the boards caused problems too but all in all the players coped pretty well and got on with it without complaint. Willie Kershaw is a worthy champion to carry the title through 2011 as everyone now looks foward to the the start of the new season with much anticipation and relish.