London Pride February ’23

Red Dragon Darts

London were looking to build on their fine win in January against Warwickshire when they travelled up the M6 to take on Cheshire.

The Ladies B shared the opening session with their hosts. Jo Deamer (17.08) got London off to the best possible start, a ton on her first visit to the oche set the tone for a straight-legs win that also gave her the match award. The next two matches went the full five-leg trip. The first four legs went against the throw before Emma Smith (15.64) led off the decider with two tons in three visits. She couldn’t pin the double and had to watch as her opponent took out 72 for the point. Carly Townsend (15.80) roared into a two-leg lead, and in leg four a concerted attack on the big trebles put her in pole position to close the game out. The double wasn’t forthcoming, but in the finale she began with a 140 which gave her a chance to take out the match winner, at which she duly obliged.  Cheshire then took the next two points on offer. Lynne Biondini (14,35) and Kelly Livett (16.27) both departed the stage after going down in the fourth leg. The final match of the session also went to four legs, with Dee Belcher (13.78) ensuring parity would be maintained.

Dean Buckland (23.94) kicked off the action in the Men’s B. A solid start brought him the first leg, and after losing the next two he equalised with an 82 finish. A maximum in leg five wasn’t enough as his opponent broke in 14 darts, but he responded to force the decider. The seventh leg was the fourth in succession to be claimed by the man throwing second and Cheshire nipped back into the overall lead.  The second contest was a scratchy affair, the wily veteran Paul Killington (18.98) came back from 3-2 down to bag the win. Danny Brown (22,71) wasn’t given much of a look in as he was seen off in five legs, as his opponent was finding the big trebles with regularity.

Harry Kelly (23.55) traded the first two legs but lost three on the spin, the latter courtesy of a brilliant 148 checkout.  Alan Reeves (22.94) brought his finishing boots with him, he cracked in a lovely 94 finish in the opener, and after breaking in the next, smacked home a 96 checkout to take control. He didn’t make it a deserved clean sweep, but the maximum to kick off leg five ensured that the match would not go any further.  The sixth match was a cracking match that went the full distance. Wayne Brown (28.18) fired in an 82 takeout to draw level in leg two, a 66 finish repeated the feat in the fourth and then he upped the ante with a superb 121 to cap off a great 12 darter to break throw. He almost took out 127 to seal the deal in the penultimate leg, and after a slow start in the decider two red figure scores just weren’t  quite enough to see him cross the line in front.

Craig Watkins (21.44) also went the distance.  He recovered from an early two leg deficit by taking three on the bounce. Leg six went with throw, as did the last and another point was safely in the Londoners win column. Nick Cocks (22.83) was staring down the proverbial tungsten barrel at a straight legs defeat, as he quickly found himself three nil down. A hold of throw averted the clean sweep, and a 96 finish in the next reduced the arrears to a solitary leg. Leg six was gained with ease, and with the momentum now firmly with him, three straight tons in the last leg shootout laid the platform for Cocks to complete a fantastic comeback. Matt Edes (23.82) was defeated in minimum time. Gene Hill (23.15) was more consistent in the scoring stakes and won in five, as he claimed the match award. Geoff Mortimer (19.99) won the first leg but that was as good as it got, as his opponent rattled off four legs in quick fire succession. John Loeber (21.55) was clinical on his doubles and rounded off the day with a straight legs win to send the sides into day two locked together at nine apiece.

The Ladies A were always going to have a tough battle against a quality side, and so it proved. Mandy Solomons (16.30) was soon two behind, but showed real resolve to claw herself back into the contest, Three tons in the third and a nice 58 checkout in the fourth sent it into the decider. Both had chances in the finale, but Solomons wasn’t able to locate the outer ring when it mattered most. Luci Cunningham (15.05) started her match with a lovely 135, but after that found the big trebles hard to come by and wasn’t given a chance at the double in legs two and three before her fate was sealed. Debs Watling (18.13) was broken to start the third match, but immediately returned the favour. A nervy third went her way and two scores of a ton and above to begin the next created the advantage she needed to claim the point and the match award. 

Steph Stutley (20.88) came back from two nil down to take the experienced Vicky Pruim to a winner takes all decider. But the first use of the oche was with the Cheshire thrower, and that was to prove the decisive factor. The penultimate match also required all five legs before the winner was known. Legs one to four all went against the head. Tammy Mackenzie (17.10) kept herself in contention and it seemed as if the finale would follow the pattern of what had gone before. Chances came and went for her opponent to close out the victory, but Mackenzie needed no second invitation and fired home the crucial out shot. Nikki Patten (18.25) rounded off the ladies action for the weekend in a fairly even encounter. Her steady scoring kept her in the hunt but she was only able to secure one leg before the winning double was found. 

The Men’s A went into the final stanza with a two point deficit. Liam Hill (25.51) was quickly out of the starting blocks, coming back from each of his first four visits with red figures to his name and finishing off in 14 darts for an impressive opening leg. He quickly added the second, but couldn’t sustain the momentum as legs three to six all went against him. Nigel Fisher (27.51) soon found himself one behind, but it was plain sailing after that as he rattled off four straight. The last of these saw a maximum followed by a 140, as he closed out the contest in only 13 darts. Steve Ferguson (26.40) produced a dominant performance with some excellent work at the business end of the legs. He started off with a 91 takeout for leg one, and then after losing the second on throw, he restored the lead with an 80 check. A 60 finish was enough to send him one away and he did so in comprehensive fashion. A 140 set up a chance at a big finish with his opposition well adrift, and the 113 was taken in fine style. 

John Walters (27.92) was soon three behind. His scoring picked up in the third and continued into the fourth as he got a leg on the board. He carried on into the next but it wasn’t enough to break throw and extend the match into a sixth leg. Graham Rackstraw (25.17) is never beaten until the final dart is thrown. A maximum in the first leg and two ton forties in the second looked to have him well in control, but he was soon pegged back to leave the match all square with three to play. Legs five and six were traded, but three straight tons in the sixth got him back on track and three more red figures were recorded in the last as he got the vital point.  Another seven-leg thriller was to follow. Matt Wood (25.69) recovered from a sluggish start as he lost the first two legs, by taking legs three and four. A 13-dart leg sent the match all the way but he was always chasing in the last as his opposition found the treble twenty with five of his opening six darts.

Fred Box (27.96) took the match award with a fine display. He sped into a three-leg lead, with his opponent unable to match Box’s far heavier scoring. Despite losing the fourth, the London man was able to easily close things out one leg later.  David Warzewski (26.24) held two-nil and three-one leads but was pegged back in another contest that needed all seven legs. He kicked off the finale with two 140s and having stolen the throw he made good use of it to secure the victory. Nick Cocks (25.37) was back on stage after his nailbiting win the previous day, and made it two from two with a far easier win as he coasted to the win in minimum time to leave London 17-16 with three matches to go. 

It was the hosts who finished with a flourish though, taking the three points to claim a hard-fought win. The tenth match of the session was also over in four legs. On this occasion though, it was Lewis McGurn (24.80) who left the stage without troubling the scorer. He quickly found his scoring range in leg one, but the three legs that followed saw him depart without having a dart at the double in any of them. Wayne Brown (25.90) was another making a swift return to the oche, and it looked as if he would emulate his teammate as he roared into a commanding three-nil lead. This time though it would be Cheshire who would snatch victory from the jaws of defeat as Brown lost the last four legs. There was still a chance of a bonus point, but that quickly went as Danny Brown ran into his second 30-plus average of the weekend as he went down in straight legs. 

The narrow defeat leaves London in ninth place in the table, their next fixture at the beginning of March sees them return to home soil with Cornwall making the long trip from the South West.

Super League News

In the Men’s Super League, Welling B (53 points) look well placed to finish the season on top as they hold a nine point advantage over Greenwich B. A further point behind are Collier Row (43). Bethnal Green are fourth with 39 points. Tied for fifth on 35 are Welling A and Lewisham. Swiss Cottage (30) occupy seventh spot, Vauxhall have 24 points with Greenwich  rooted to the bottom on 15 points.  John Nelson (Collier Row) currently sits top of the averages, with Chris Holt (Greenwich B) and David Wawrzewski (Welling B) both just 0.14 behind.

The Ladies Super League sees Wanderers top of the tree with 59 points. Hustlers are second, 6 points behind. Booshes are third with 30 and Daredevils round out the table on 26. Steph Stutley (Wanderers) leads the averages, with Deb Watling (Booshes) and Carly Townsend (Wanderers) in the medal places.


An abridged version of this piece was originally published in Darts World Magazine (582) February 2023

Words: “The Pearly King”


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