Nine-dart leg is highlight of a great day
World darts champion Phil “The Power” Taylor lit up the Clickimin Centre on Saturday, beating Dennis “The Menace” Priestley in the final of the Clickimin 25th Anniversary Tournament in front of 1,400 fans.
Taylor, the 15 times world champion, was in devastating form as he saw off Scottish player Robert Thornton in the quarter-finals and Mark Webster of Wales in the semi-finals before defeating Priestley in a one-sided final. Taylor was untouchable throughout, with a three-dart average of 111, 117 and 108 to claim the cup and prize fund.
Steve Mottershead was the compere for the event and whipped the crowd into a frenzy straight from the off, getting them to participate in his darts aerobics workout to the now famous darts anthem Chase the Sun.
The draw for the tournament was made on stage with Taylor v Thornton, Webster v Terry Jenkins, Priestley v Anastasia Dobromyslova and James Wade v John Henderson completing the afternoon quarter-finals session.
Taylor went straight to work in game one, whitewashing Thornton 10-0.
In game two Wade met last-minute replacement John Henderson of Scotland. “Hendo” had stepped in at the last minute to replace Mervyn King who had unfortunately suffered a family bereavement on the day they were due to travel. BDO player Henderson pushed Wade all the way but lost 10-6.
Next up to the oche was crowd favourite Anastasia Dobromyslova, who was to take on two-times world champion Priestley. Despite outscoring Priestley for large periods of the game she lost by 10 legs to four. An all-Welsh affair concluded the afternoon session with Webster taking on Jenkins. “The Bull” found Webster in fine form, averaging 105 as he cruised through 10-3.
With the crowd warming up nicely the three-game evening session got under way with the first semi-final featuring world number two Wade against Priestley. Wade never reached his usual high standards and struggled to find his scoring form throughout the tournament. Priestley, on the other hand, showed a consistency which saw him through to the final with a 11-5 win. The second semi-final matched “Webby” Webster against the formidable Taylor. Webster looked in fine form during his quarter-final defeat of Jenkins, so he had every right to feel confident against the current world champion as he stepped on stage.
What happened in the next few minutes though will be remembered in Shetland darts circles for many a year to come. As has become custom, Taylor’s walk on built up the atmosphere entering to Snap’s I’ve Got the Power as Webster waited patiently on stage.
A focused Taylor won the bull up and threw first in the match. Referee for the day Bruce Spendley delighted the crowd as he wailed out 180 in the usual style now witnessed on the many big stage events throughout the world.
Taylor followed this up with another maximum to set up the nine-dart finish. A treble 20, treble 19 and double 12 sent the crowd wild as they celebrated on the floor and chairs within the main hall. It was a truly special sporting moment to witness live and it had been done in Shetland.
Webster was not fazed by all the euphoria surrounding Taylor’s nine-dart finish and shared the first four legs to tie the game at 2-2. Taylor then broke Webster’s throw to go into the break at 6-4 with a three-dart average of 124. After the break Taylor stretched his lead, taking the remaining five legs to seal his place in the final. Ex-world champion Priestley was next to tackle Taylor in the final.
In what proved to be a fairly one-sided event Taylor was relentless as he raced to a 5-0 lead before Priestley replied. Taylor took the next seven legs to extend his lead to 12-1, putting him one leg away from the title. Priestley battled back to take the next leg but it was only a matter of time before Taylor finished the game in style with a 136 checkout. Overall the event was a huge success with the nine-dart finish the icing on the cake. All eight players were hugely impressed with the tournament with Taylor announcing in his celebration speech that they’d be back with the TV cameras to witness the electric atmosphere created by the crowd.
Centre manager Robert Geddes said: “A lot of hard work and time has gone into getting players of this calibre to Shetland and it is hoped it won’t be the last time we see them in the Clickimin.
“The organisers would like to thank everybody who helped in any way to make the event happen. In particular Gideon Ward of Simpsons & Ward, Hay & Co Buildbase, T&N Joinery, TPS Services for the production, Alwyn Fullerton the DJ and all the Shetland Recreational Trust staff. Here’s to next year …”