Ladies and Gentlemen, Are You Ready? Lets. Play. Darts!
Those famous words rang out over a packed Rock City, Darts’ spiritual home and with no further ado Rob 'The Javelin' Mayne of Nottingham and Joe 'The Mophead' Stimson of Trent were led to the stage to rapturous applause. While Stimson played to the crowd, Mayne stepped up and took his practise darts with a cool focus. The first leg went the way of the entertainer, with steady scoring complimented by a casual 55 checkout. The second leg followed, the crowd firmly behind their players and despite some excellent darts, the elusive treble 20 proved hard to find for Mayne. A truly excellent 94 checkout broke Uni hearts, handing Stimson the match and Trent an early 1-0 lead.
The second match swiftly followed, with Dan 'The Car' Parker' facing Trent’s Jake 'The Hairy Monster' Ashgar (guilty of a frankly disappointing lack of hair). Some steady scoring handed Parker a chance to take Uni’s first leg of the tournament with the professionals’ favourite double 16 and he duly obliged, sending the crowd wild. Unfortunately he was unable to make the momentum show, with Ashgar cruising to the second leg. The third and decisive leg saw the Trent player checkout a cool 58, leaving Parker wondering what went wrong. 2-0 Trent.
Our next pairing saw the respective captains of both teams come head to head. Josh Hole stood with all the responsibility of the Uni team on his shoulders, while Sam ‘Bomber’ Roberts looked to cement Trent’s lead. Neck and neck scoring left Hole looking for a 52 checkout, but nerves seemed to have got the better of him, leaving 24 and Bomber sneaks in under the radar to steal the first leg. The first throw of the second leg saw Hole score a healthy 100, an excellent response to the end of the first leg. Unfortunately he was unable to capitalise and a cool finish at double ten meant the Bomber dealt the decisive blow to Hole and Uni hopes.
An entertaining 4th match saw Trent’s ‘The Brick’ Dalton more concerned with riling the crowd than actually playing Darts. Despite becoming an instant villain, he had the skills to back up his bravado, much to the disgust of the Uni crowd. The first leg fell to a cool Double 8 for The Brick, with the hostile atmosphere seeming to get the better of Uni’s very own ‘Flying Pig’. Another clinical finish from ‘The Brick’ saw the match end all too quickly and to the horror of much of the crowd, his shirt removed and Trent cruising to a 4-0 lead.
Some respite for the Uni team as Connor ‘The Dark Knight’ Jones takes a vital win over Andy ‘The Menace’ Dennis, following a lengthy spell in the Madhouse – both players struggling for double 1 for a few long minutes. First points on the score sheet for Uni just before the interval. After a break the next pairing took to the stage, with Aaron 'The Hitman' Hanam looking to continue Uni’s comeback. A confident first leg set ‘The Hitman’ up for a cool second, fuelling the comeback fires and providing a foothold in the tournament. Trent 4-2 Uni.
Martin 'the hair' Dwyer was the next Uni player to take to the stage and the momentum wasn't lost as he cruised to victory in the first leg. A slow second leg followed with 'The Hair' and Trent's 'Bullet' struggling to finish. A slick finish from the Bullet saw the scores level before shooting down Dwyer in the decisive leg, handing Trent a 5-2 lead.
The next and ultimately decisive match saw Uni's very own Austin Powers fail to tame Matt 'The Bull' Acres after two swift legs. The comeback eluded Austin, with this match seeing the score tick over to 6-2 Trent. A quick ninth match saw consolation points taken for Uni. After a petering out of support over the previous matches, Lee 'The Hurricane' Hoyes and Trent's Rob 'The Spitfire' Smith took to the stage with only the most dedicated of support remaining. A shame, as Uni's 'Hurricane' confidently took the final match, with the evening finishing with a moral 6-4 victory for Trent ahead of the series proper.
After the event, I caught up with Uni Captain Josh to try and gain a few thoughts from him about the result, as well as his opinions of the event...
On the result:
“I was obviously disappointed in the result...maybe through lack of practice. The result isn’t that important, it was more that the event had to succeed”
On the event itself:
“For a first time event it was a superb start and I am positive it’ll become a lasting Varsity event, all the feedback from a spectator’s point of view has been amazing.”
Is there anything you’d like to see tweaked?
“I was disappointed that the games had to be shortened (to best of three legs), an earlier start would have given us a chance to calm down and settle in”
Any final messages?
“The bottom line is that it was fantastic, thank you to the organisation, the fans and URN for supporting the event and the team throughout”
Words by Dave Straw