Grand Final

A light covering of overnight snow especially noticeable on the Bradford Bulls Stadium car park opposite the Cue Gardens venue greeted the players on arrival on a crisp December morning. A limited amount of spaces in the venue car park meant most parked along the adjacent road which caused no problems on an otherwise quiet Saturday morning. The Cue Gardens on approach looked smart, modern and impressive, even more so once inside, a spacious lounge decked out with comfortable black leather sofa’s and chairs with flat screen TV’s high up in every corner of the room as well as a superb big screen at the far side so spectators in all areas could easily follow the days sporting events including the days play in the PDC World Championships at Alexandra Palace. A well stocked bar, a variety of food on the menu and excellent service from the staff meant everyone’s needs were well catered for on the day. The playing room itself a little small but well set out with 6 fixed boards on one side of the wall with 2 practice boards and Trevor Tye’s excellent accessories stall on the opposite side.

A hectic day in store especially for Harry Firth and Mick Dodds our two main organisers who were responsible for overseeing Youth, Ladies and Main Finals as well as a Pairs Competition, a tough task made more difficult without the use of a microphone. As the day unfolded there was the usual mix of high drama, tension and excellent darts along with a fair degree of controversy too. The Youth Finals would kick off the day followed by the Ladies Finals, then The Pairs Event and finally The Main Finals.

YOUTH FINALS

LAST 8

Ryan Hoggarth 3-0 Macauley Gamble
Jamie Ogley   3-2 Calum Gill
Sam Hastings  3-0 Shane Cathcart
Josh Clough   w/o Lewis Pride

SEMI FINALS

Jamie Ogley   3-0 Ryan Hoggarth
Sam Hastings  3-2 Josh Clough

FINAL

Jamie Ogley   3-1 Sam Hastings

There was to be controversy from the word go as Harrogate’s Lewis Pride was amazingly scratched from the event. The organisers had received a call to say Lewis had been held up in traffic and therefore wouldn’t arrive for the start time but would be there shortly afterwards. His opponent Josh Clough was informed of the situation and exercised his right to claim the match which he was entitled to do but hardly within the spirit of the game as most other players were shocked and surprised by his decision. Can’t recall another instance at BDP where this course of action has been taken, some would say a kind of poetic justice was done when Josh went out in the next game to Sam Hastings who would now line up against Jamie Ogley in the Final after having survived a major scare against Calum Gill in the opener before a more straight forward victory in the Semi over Ryan Hoggarth. The difference in appearance between the two finalists couldn’t be more stark with Jamie aged 13/14 having the strapping physique of a Rugby League Second Rower and looking like he would be able to sink 8 pints of Guinness without any trouble at all, whereas 11 year old Sam is barely half the size and looks like a little angel with his long straight blonde hair, however he is a little demon on the dart board as quite a few adult victims can testify this year. He gave a good account of himself again in the Final but the extra firepower of Jamie proved decisive and he collected the £160 winner’s cheque to cap off a tremendous season for him.

LADIES FINALS

LAST 8

Penny Shaw       3-1 Tracey Gledhill
Sharon Whitfield 3-0 Kath Wilson
Laura Tye        3-2 Lynne Horne
Michelle Binns   3-0 Leah Wiltshire

SEMI FINALS

Sharon Whitfield 3-1 Penny Shaw
Laura Tye        3-0 Michelle Binns

FINAL

Laura Tye        3-2 Sharon Whitfield

A successful defence of her Title for Chesterfields Laura Tye after making the decision to compete in the Ladies Finals when she had the choice after finishing 47th in the overall Rankings. With the Ladies Final 8 already shorn of 2 of the top ranked players Laura’s decision to defend gave the competition credibility not only in terms of a Champions defence but the list of Ladies next in line were getting thin on the ground at the lower end of the scale of Rankings. In order to win Laura had to overcome tough challengers with both Lynne Horne and Sharon Whitfield taking her to a deciding leg. A great year for the ever smiling Derbyshire girl who even managed to find time to have a baby inbetween competitions back in the Autumn.

PAIRS FINALS

SEMI FINALS

J Wilson/D Wilson  2-1 D Copley/J Daniels
T Darlow/B Pinder  2-1 L Delderfield/W Kershaw

FINAL

J Wilson/D Wilson  2-0 T Darlow/B Pinder

More controversy again before a dart was thrown in the Pairs Comp regarding the eligibility of players to enter the Comp, most players feelings being that the Comp should only be for players that have competed in at least 1 tournament during the course of the season, a sense of a gatecrasher muscling in on a private party as BDO star and England International Scott Waites turned up to play having not been seen at a BDP event all season, however with no stipulations attached to the Pairs event there was nothing to say that Scott or anyone else for that matter couldn’t play, maybe a loophole that needs looking into at the annual AGM in January possibly. Once again though justice seemed to be done as Scott and his partner Veejay Kumar went down in a Prelim game to the Wilson Brothers, the great man from Halifax / Huddersfield fresh from winning The Zuiderduin Masters in Holland can now concentrate on the bigger fish down at the Lakeside in his quest to be World Champ and goes there with everyone at BDP’s best wishes along with the rest of the Yorkshire players. As it is James Wilson is conquering nearly every challenge put in front of him at the moment so it was no real surprise that along with brother Dave, went on to win another 5 games including the Final against the formidable Sheffield pairing of Bob Pinder and Tony Darlow in a best of 3 legs encounter.

MAIN FINALS

ROUND 1

Aaron Poole     3-0 Danny Hall
Steve Kemp      3-0 Steve Cadera
John Richardson 3-0 Shirley Sanderson
Pete Riley      3-1 Jason Stockings
Dave Smith      3-0 Louise Simmonds
Colin Hendry    3-1 Joe Harrison
Mark Hanslip    3-0 Rob Holroyd
Pat Blakely     3-1 Peter Baker
Simon Wintle    3-1 Gary Cathcart
John Utting     3-1 Jonathan Daniels
Trevor Tye      3-1 Simon Hall
Mick Wiltshire  3-1 Daz Twist
Scott Smith     3-2 Ian Falkingham
Andrew Clifford 3-2 Ian Holmes
Ian Brown       3-2 Steve Jones
Pete Ackroyd    3-1 Mark Featherstone

Once again major drama before a dart had even been thrown as a mix up with the number tags meant the 1st Round draw for players ranked 17 to 48 had to be scrapped, rehashed and then redrawn, an unfortunate mistake but just one of those things that can happen from time to time, particularly unlucky for Louise Simmonds who drew the player that all others wanted to avoid in the Opening Round in Dave Smith and was understandably angry after going down 3-0 to the Ferrybridge PDC star after originally having an easier tie on paper. Another man the players were looking to avoid was 7/1 shot Daz Twist, however playing Mick Wiltshire was never going to be an easy tie for Daz and so it proved as the tall Otley player took out a brilliant 150 shot to win the game and cause the first upset of the day. Mark Hanslip ( 23.85 ) one of 5 Shipley players in the Finals and bristling at a perceived injustice at his tournament odds of 50/1 looked in a determined mood as he swept past highly fancied 16/1 dark horse Rob Holroyd ( 20.60 ) by 3 legs to 0 in 19, 23 and 21 darts, a solid performance as if to prove a point from the otherwise jolly and jokey man known as ‘Hanny’. Disappointing from Rob as he never looked settled and fell away in the final leg. Another Halifax player who fell apart in the final leg was Steve Jones ( 19.69 ) who looked to be in command with clinical finishes of 78 and 80 to lead Ian Brown ( 22.19 ) 2-0, the Kippax player though was scoring well throughout and fought back to level with 19 and 21 darters, an error strewn last leg especially from Steve with a nightmare sequence of poor scoring as the temperature rose and the tension mounted, allowing Ian to coast to victory in 29 unconvincing darts, a fine comeback win for a player still feeling the effects of a broken hand and wrist from an accident a few weeks ago. In the GF preview John Utting was described as having the game to challenge if he could find his real form after a poor run of results in the closing events, maybe that form had returned as he derailed another fancied player in Glasshoughton Winner Jonathan Daniels by 3 legs to 1.

ROUND 2

Bryan Harrison   3-0 Andrew Clifford
Dave Smith       3-0 Nigel Atkinson
Mick Wiltshire   3-1 Steve Kelly
Dave Copley      3-1 Steve Hattersley
Pete Ackroyd     3-2 Les Delderfield
Rob Sharp        3-1 Kyle Richardson
Trevor Tye       3-1 Pete Riley
Brendan Marren   3-0 Willie Kershaw
Tony Darlow      3-2 Mark Hanslip
Colin Hendry     3-1 John Richardson
Pat Blakely      3-2 Paul Doherty
Scott Smith      3-2 Steve Kemp
Ian Brown        3-2 Aaron Poole
Jonathan Hewitt  3-1 Simon Wintle
Bob Pinder       3-1 John Utting
Darren Hale      3-1 Craig Nelmes

More murmurs of discontent as some of the top players thought the draw at this stage should be seeded so the Top 16 would all play Round 1 qualifiers, as it was the draw was an open one and threw up some explosive clashes, not least 3/1 Fav and No 1 ranked Brendan Marren ( 34.16 ) v No 6 ranked and last year’s GF winner Willie Kershaw, an amazing exhibition of darts as Willie blasted in a 180, 2 x 134’s, 2 x 100’s and an average of 31.15 and didn’t even get a shot at a double, I’ll say it again, he didn’t even get a shot a double !, that was because Brendan was like a man possessed with 14, 15 and 15 dart legs and a barrage of 10 x 3 figure scores including a 180, only 4 scores in the whole game from him under 100, they were 81 which was to leave 40, the 40 itself to win leg 1, a 61 to win the match and the other score a 95 in leg 2, as player turned pundit Wayne Mardle would say ‘Lunacy, sheer Lunacy’. Needless to say Willie being a ‘seed’, very unhappy afterwards at having to play Brendan at this stage. The drama continued with the next game on Board 2 as 33/1 shot Pete Ackroyd ( 24.58 ) played out of his skin to hit the scores and finishes at the right times to take out major player Les Delderfield ( 26.92 ), holding his nerve at the end to take out the Double 10 after Les had just missed bull on a do or die 88 shot. Dave Smith ( 22.77 ) made sure there wasn’t another shock on Board 2 as he saw off Castleford’s Nigel Atkinson ( 22.48 ), the 3-0 scoreline looking comfortable but in reality it was anything but and could have been a different story had Nigel taken his chances on the doubles. The Shipley challenge all ended at this early stage as Mark Hanslip slipped out 3-2 to Tony Darlow after another fine effort.

ROUND 3

Dave Smith      3-1 Bryan Harrison
Dave Copley     3-2 Mick Wiltshire
Rob Sharp       3-1 Pete Ackroyd
Brendan Marren  3-0 Trevor Tye
Tony Darlow     3-1 Colin Hendry
Scott Smith     3-1 Pat Blakely
Jonathan Hewitt 3-0 Ian Brown
Bob Pinder      3-1 Darren Hale

Easy going Otley Car Valeter Mick Wiltshire looked like leathering on form Yorkshire County A player Dave Copley as he hoovered up the first 2 legs in 21 and 17 darts with the aid of a bull finish on 75 in leg 1 and a 180 score in leg 2, cheered on by his enthusiastic wife and daughter Mick was throwing brilliant darts as he piled on the pressure in leg 3 with 100, 100 and 135 scores, however class players have a knack of pulling out a massive shot just when they most need it and Dave showed he wasn’t about to be soft soaped with a crucial 106 checkout to turn the game, a 17 dart leveller followed as he began to shine, however the gloss was taken off the game in an extremely nervy last leg as both players missed chances before Thurnscoe’s No 3 clinched it with a 28 darter. Dave closing the gap all the time in the Thurnscoe pecking order and is now just behind the Great Brian Dawson and the slightly less great Gordon Leeming, after his displays this year. Dave Smith a little lacklustre in his opening game was fully focused with brilliant outshots of 130 and 144 to see off the considerable threat of Bryan Harrison, while Bryan’s close friend Ian Brown did very little wrong but was blown away by the power of Jonathan Hewitt. Rank outsider Scott Smith from Halifax in his first full season in competitive darts was making a mockery of his 70/1 odds with his third victory of the day, this time over Pat Blakely after earlier wins over Ian Falkingham and Steve Kemp.

QUARTER FINALS

Dave Smith     3-0 Dave Copley
Brendan Marren 3-1 Rob Sharp
Tony Darlow    3-1 Scott Smith
Bob Pinder     3-2 Jonathan Hewitt

West Leeds star Jonathan Hewitt ( 25.80 ) very much a player that plays with his heart on his sleeve as he displays a full range of emotions during games. Those emotions probably cost him a Semi Final spot today as Bob Pinder ( 25.43 ) battled back to win from 2-0 down against him. Cruising at 2-0 up after 18 and 20 dart legs the match began to turn as Bob awoke from his slumber to fire in a 17 darter, until that point Jonathan’s demeanour had been like a pan of cold water just warming nicely on a low light with no cause for concern but as Bob turned up the heat in leg 4 with opening scores of 140, 180,and 125 to close out the leg in 16 darts, the water was beginning to simmer after Jonathan had missed a dart for the match in that leg. In a tense decider Bob missed 2 darts at Double 18 on a 96 finish to hand Jonathan a shot at 63, a single 13 then disaster as he hit big 15 instead of big 10 then tossed the last dart blindly into the board in frustration to leave him on 21, that early sedate pan of water was now bubbling up on gas mark 5 as Bob moved in on Double 9, however more drama as he was outside the wire on all 3 attempts. Still angry from the previous throw Jonathan inexplicably missed a big number, then unbelievably missed the board so not getting a shot at the double again, needless to say as Bob nailed the elusive Double 9 first dart to end the misery, the lid was finally blown off the pan with the hot water spraying all over the kitchen as the temperature reached boiling point. Only a hastily bought cold bottle of blue WKD by a close friend could put out the fire in Jonathan’s heart as he was left to contemplate a missed chance and surely a harsh lesson learned for future times. Elsewhere Dave Smith ended Dave Copley’s dream with a 3-0 win while Brendan Marren and Tony Darlow were both overwhelming favourites to win their ties but were both made to work hard for their 3-1 victories after spirited and determined efforts from Rob Sharp and Scott Smith.

SEMI FINAL 1

Dave Smith ( 31.93 ) 3-2 ( 31.16 ) Brendan Marren

All day the tournament favourite Brendan Marren had looked like the man to beat and it was always going to take a Herculean effort to do it. Dave Smith provided it in a thrilling game that went the distance with the advantage of throw proving decisive in the end. Brendan threw the kitchen sink at Dave in the opener with scores of 180, 60, 100 and then just the wrong side of the bull wire on a magnificent 161 effort, all to no avail though as the Ferrybridge man held firm with a great 14 dart leg of his own, the blistering pace of the game was maintained right the way through as ‘The Afterburner’ scorched in a 115 finish to level up. A 180 from Big Dave helped him take leg 3 with a 20 darter and he had a chance to wrap up the match but missed 2 darts at Double 4 in the next leg as Brendan saved it in 16 darts. Much like the opening leg Brendan went all guns blazing to force the break with scores of 100, 180, 60 and 65 to leave 96 after 12 darts, once again ‘The Rhino’ stayed thick skinned and repelled the onslaught with equally impressive scores of 140, 100, 94 and a game clinching 131 to leave 36 which he duly despatched for a brilliant under pressure 13 darter. A superb game of fast flowing rat a tat darts which the crowd thoroughly enjoyed.

SEMI FINAL 2

Tony Darlow ( 27.04 ) 3-1 ( 24.65 ) Bob Pinder

Travel partners and close friends Tony Darlow and Bob Pinder clashed in the all Sheffield Semi, it was Tony that took an early strangle hold on the game racing into a 2-0 lead fairly comfortably in 14 and 17 darts and could have wrapped up the match in leg 3 but missed 2 darts at Double 15. One of Bob’s great attributes is he never, ever gives up or gets flustered and is always cool and composed, he took out 80 with the last dart and was back in the game, then such is darts the very next leg he missed 5 darts at Doubles to draw level, even then he might have half expected another shot as Tony stepped up for 76, the equally cool lefthander didn’t give his friend the chance though as he took out the finish to book a Final date with Dave Smith. Not quite the fireworks of Semi 1 but still an entertaining game none the less.

FINAL

Tony Darlow ( 26.62 ) 4-2 ( 25.58 ) Dave Smith

Only half a point separated the Finalists in the Pre tournament betting list as 5/1 Tony Darlow started out as 4th favourite and Dave Smith 5th at 11/2 so very little to choose between the players only the form on the day of which Dave had been superb to see off Bryan Harrison, Dave Copley and Brendan Marren whereas Tony had been more steady than spectacular in his victories. However every game is different and the form of the two players in the Semi’s would have no bearing on the outcome of the Final. A quality opening leg won by Dave on throw with a magic 122 checkout with Tony right on his heels requiring just 31 after 15 darts, this was a pattern of play that was to continue right the way through with every leg evenly contested with break opportunities for both players. The real decisive blow came really in the last leg as Tony fired in scores of 140, 80, 100 then a killer 145 to leave 36, a shot very similar to what Dave had done to edge out Brendan in the Semi and just like Dave did in that game he made no mistake to coolly slot home the Double 18 with the second dart with Dave powerless to do anything about it despite playing a cracking leg himself having just 76 left after 12 darts. Despite a mid game lull which was understandable after such a gruelling day both players performed admirably to produce an exciting Final. 16 x 100 pluses for Tony with 2 x 90 pluses while Dave hit 9 x 100 pluses with 5 x 90 pluses.

SUMMARY

Despite a few hiccups and moans here and there the 2011 Grand Finals were a success, always difficult to please everyone all of the time with issues like the formats, the start times, the venue etc but by and large most people seemed to enjoy the occasion. In my opinion the venue was befitting of The Grand Finals and all credit to the Committee for choosing Cue Gardens and the staff and management there too for doing a fine job of setting up the venue and providing excellent service throughout the day. The quality of the darts all afternoon was there for all to see with Tony Darlow, Laura Tye and Jamie Ogley all deserved winners on the day. We can now look forward to an equally busy 2012 as the calendar is already booked up for most available dates with any changes to the rules, if any, to be discussed at the AGM in early January. One topic up for discussion is the possible renaming of Bradford Darts with the general feeling being that the original name is too regionalised and in effect the product has now outgrown the name, maybe something like White Rose Darts would be more appropriate these days as the events are now spread far and wide from the original small Bradford venues of the early years. The committee are always looking into ways of improving for the benefit of the dart players and will listen to any constructive comments in that regard, however negative and unfair scathing critics, mostly in the heat of the moment it has to be said is uncalled and for which they do not deserve as we have to remember these dedicated individuals give up a lot of their time for the love of the game for little or no reward, they are the real stars of our game because without them there is no Bradford Darts – then what would we all do.

Finally on a sad note Halifax player Dave Cameron passed away over the Christmas period. Dave was a well known figure on the Yorkshire Darts scene, competing in local and Super League as well as being a regular attendee at BDP over the years. Seems he had been battling with illness for quite some time according to the players in Halifax that knew him best. He will be sadly missed by all of us in 2012 and the years to follow. RIP Dave Cameron.

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