Setting the Scene
As the tag line of this blog would suggest, success doesn’t happen every week when you’re a run-of-the-mill pub league darts player, so when it does, you like to revel in it just a bit and enjoy the moment, which is what this post is all about. The post is a bit self-indulgent and I apologise for that, but hopefully you’ll enjoy reading it.
My expectations for the evening weren’t high – there were quite a few useful players there and I considered that making it into round two would be a success. It was the first time I’d played in the A & B Section Singles, despite having played in the Wimborne Minster League for over 20 years.
The format was different to what I’m used to – best of five legs. It’s what they play in the A Section, but we only play best of three in the rest of the league. The (slightly) longer format gives you an opportunity to pick your game up if you’ve started slowly.
Round One (round of 32) – Sean
Having avoided the preliminary round, my first round match started off quite well – I was focused and calm. I won the first leg and missed (quite badly – almost in the treble 18) a dart at double four for 2-0, but Sean stepped in and drew level. Disappointed with passing up that chance I knuckled down and took the next two legs to win the match 3-1. I’d not played great, but solidly enough to be in the second round.
Round Two (round of 16) – Rich
Round two for me highlights the importance of concentration.
I won the toss and threw first, boom, 180! Get in, what a great start – of course that is followed with the obligatory forty-something, but I was out of the traps like a greyhound. A couple of tons from Rich and he was back in the leg – I held my nerve to win the opening leg, 1-0 to me.
With 142 left in leg two I was just looking to leave a two dart finish in my next visit, but wait, boom (again), I’ve just shot-out on 142, my best ever competitive finish! 2-0 to me and the next round beckons.
It was a nervy fifth leg for both of us, but I held it together and I was in to the last eight!
Quarter-Final – Chris
Wow, the quarter-finals and playing well too, this could just be my night!
I lost the first leg – I started slowly and Chris had the darts. He didn’t mess around finishing and I was 0-1 down before I got going. Leg two was a similar story, but this time in my favour, then, in the third leg, I had my second purple patch of the evening.
I can’t ever remember being so ‘in the zone’ as I was in that third leg. 95, 95, 100,100, a 111 finish and I was 2-1 up after a 15 dart leg – it was quite a turnaround from my slow start in the first leg.
I didn’t actually realise it was 15 darts until later in the evening when I was told, but just like in the second round after the 142 shot-out, my concentration lapses and I let Chris back into the game and for the second consecutive match it goes to a fifth leg decider.
I’m starting to wilt a bit now. It’s warm in the venue, I haven’t sat down since I arrived two hours before and I’m about to play my fourteenth leg of the night. It’s a pretty weak leg by both of us, nerves and maybe tiredness affecting our throws quite badly, but once again I hold my nerve to take the game 3-2 and incredibly I’m in the semi-final – not bad considering I’d have settled for a second round spot.
Semi-Final – Spencer
As soon as the quarter-final had finished I was called up for my semi-final. I could have done with a few minutes longer to be fair – my back was aching and I had a pain in my chest, but I had just enough time to get a pint of water and it was on with the show.
Ours wasn’t the most popular semi as the other one was between two more recognised players, so ours was a bit like when a lesser team makes the FA Cup semi-finals – it’s just a sideshow to the main event. Unfortunately the occasion got to me and I was 0-2 down before I found any rhythm at all. At the end if the third leg I hit 131 to leave double three (I hit a treble 17 when I only wanted a single really!), Spencer didn’t finish and I was in with a shout if I could just finish six. First dart low, second dart closer, third dart in, 1-2, I was back in the game. When I hit the double three I heard some say “that was great dart”, and do you know what, I think it was too. It was a pressure dart to save the game.
“…that was great dart…”
I’d like to say I went on to win the next two legs and lineup in the final, but I cant, because I didn’t. In fact my performance in the fourth leg was a bit disappointing – I lost 1-3.
The final was a great game to watch. The eventual winner, Ricky, had hit six 180’s and a 177 on his way to the final and frankly, it may have been a blessing that I bowed out in the semi’s – I think I may have taken a mauling in the final otherwise.
I had a great night and I learnt a lot about keeping calm and collected when playing. Hopefully the experience will stand me in good stead for the coming months and my life as a Middle of the Road Dart Player.