Eight optimistic Newcastle University Darts Society hopefuls made the trip down to York for the annual Northern Universities Darts League singles tournament, with the day getting off to a great start with one team member hungover and two others hiding in train toilets to avoid a fare.
Randomly drawn into groups of up to eight, second-year NUDS secretary Joe Hopkins flew out of the blocks, winning all 5 of his opening games to pretty much guarantee a spot in the last 32, hitting an impressive 104 checkout along the way.
Masters student Luke Whittaker and Newcastle alumni Tom Brown were drawn together and faced the prospect of a difficult day, and ultimately this proved too much for Luke despite his best efforts, with Tom scraping through to a playoff as one of the best third/fourth place finishers, which he won.
Another Masters student Mark Dickinson stormed through his group, winning all seven of his games and producing an exceptional 140 (T20, D20, D20) checkout in the process; although this was not enough to win the highest checkout competition, with one competitor taking the prize with a 151.
It looked like it could be a terrible day for NUDS’ Treasurer Dan “Martin” Adams, who was pummelled in his first game in quick time. However, he rallied well to win all six of his remaining games to top his group.
Third-year Maduka etc. looked to have the worst group of all, with 2016 UDUK Big Weekender winner Andy Kent and former York 1st Team Captain Fred Evans drawn together with him. As it transpired, the Sri Lankan produced a sterling display, including a vital 105 checkout, to finish third and reach the last 32 via a playoff.
Second-year maths students Jack Almond and Chris Walton both fared well in their respective groups, with both reaching the last 32, the latter via a playoff. The last 32 was where it ended for four of NUDS’ remaining seven participants, although Joe Hopkins produced a valiant display in his match to lose 2-3.
“Into the semis, an increasingly inebriated Dan was given a much tougher ride by Nottingham”
Despite reaching the stage where prize money was offered, it was a bittersweet feeling for Newcastle as the last 16 pitted incumbent NUDS’ President Jack Almond against the man he succeeded, Mark Dickinson. His experience showed as he breezed through 3-1 to reach the quarter-finals, which would be played on the main stage.
Thankfully the draw for the quarters kept apart Mark and Dan, who had also eased through his own match to reach the same stage and was beginning to show some incredible form.
He carried this form into his match against Loughborough’s Ben Hallam in an incredible 4-0 whitewash that saw Dan hit two 180s and finish with a match average of 75.15; it was an unbelievable performance that got everybody’s attention and rightly marked him out as the favourite to win the tournament.
However, despite the most passionate of support from the Newcastle contingent, the stage proved too much for Mark, who was well beaten by Sheffield University Captain Adam Warner.
Into the semis, and an increasingly inebriated Dan was given a much tougher ride by Nottingham University’s Richard Forsyth. Not to be fazed though, Dan cruised through in convincing fashion to set up a final against Adam Warner, who of course had knocked out Mark in the quarters.
What followed will go down in NUDS history, as Dan saw off a spirited challenge from Warner to secure a 5-3 win, and the £120 top prize, with a 60 checkout to send the Newcastle faithful into raptures. An impromptu stage invasion followed as NUDS’ players celebrated together with the champion.
It was a thoroughly deserved outcome for the man from Stoke, who was a class above the other competitors that day, hitting seven 180s.
MVP: Dan Adams