After proving to be a smash-hit in last year’s student union calendar, the Newcastle Uni Darts Society again hosted its annual showpiece last Thursday night. The University-wide darts competition, which attracted over 150 spectators in 2014, has become a must-attend event for even the most inexperienced of competitors.
Mark Dickinson, student of medical chemistry and President/Captain of the Darts Society, was aiming to build on the success that was last year’s tournament. “The biggest success of 2014 for the club was that we didn’t expect so many people to turn up.”
“As well as the club having a significant social aspect, it also has a competitive presence in the North of the country”
“Ignoring a couple of people falling through tables at last year’s event, it all ran perfectly, and our club has certainly become bigger because of it. We started in 2008 and at that time only had about 8 regulars. This year, we’re expecting an Ally-Pally sort of atmosphere. But more rowdy.”
As well as the club having a significant social aspect, it also has a competitive presence in the North of the country. “We’ve got 2 teams in the Northern League, and our 1sts are unbeaten so far this year and sitting on top of the table,” explained Dickinson.
16 teams of 4 battled it out last week for the trophy and the prize pot, which was made up of £100 and crate of Carling. The short-price favourites for the title entering the round of 16 were The Treble Makers, a team that included 2 of the Uni’s 1st team stars.
However, according to Dickinson, Michael Van Gherkin, who sat on the other side of the draw, posed a significant threat to the rest of the competition. Other outside contenders included Projectile Dysfunction, The Brokeback Bulls-eyes, and the Dart Vaders.
Bulls-eyes’ representative and Captain of the Law intra-mural rugby side Gav Murphy described why he thinks the event has become so popular. “The atmosphere is great, people are only here for beer, and for darts. And that’s a refreshing thing to hear.”
A number of the less experienced sides crashed out after the first round, including a disappointing early exit from the Bulls-eyes. Yet, the most surprising exit was the by The Treble Makers, who just couldn’t make the grade in their first match.
8 sides then headed into the quarters, and the other 8 headed to the STU-BREW stand who were at the event promoting their student-made real ale. The headline showdowns of the quarters were the clashes between Oliver Clements and Michael Van Gherkin, as well as The Time Wasters and Henry Agnew.
Van Gherkin took an early lead and held on throughout the match, and became the first side to make the semi-finals. The Time Wasters out-slogged their opposition in a 20-minute match, when Alex Hay landed a double-1 to take the win in a fiercely fought encounter.
Those two winners were then to meet in the first of semis, with Once You Go Black You Never Go Back and Johny’s Big Black Jonc to fight for the other place in the final.
The teams entered the first of the matches to the sounds of rapper Skepta, and it didn’t take long for Michael Van Gherkin to shutdown their opponents and take control of the match. After less than 10 minutes behind the oche, they became the first team to reach the final. They were shortly followed by Johny’s Big Black Jonc, who eliminated the favourites The Treble Makers in their first round bout.
A rousing rendition of “Stand up, if you love the darts” was sung by the crowd as the two finalists entered the arena facing the challenge of 1 doubles and 2 singles matches. The first to win 2 of the matches would take the title.
“The first singles match went down to the wire, with JBBJ pushing Van Gherkin to the final leg”
Van Gherkin undoubtedly went in as the favourites, having dispatched each of its opponents without any difficulty throughout the night. Jamie Logue, captain of Jony’s Big Black Jonc, described their journey to the final as “entirely down to luck.”
“However, I took my team to the title last year, and we’re now 7 matches unbeaten overall. This is a new side, but last year we managed to break the trophy almost instantly, so we’re gonna try and make amends when we win this time.”
The first singles match went down to the wire, with JBBJ pushing Van Gherkin to the final leg. But the confidence of the JBBJ turned out to be unfounded, as the match came to an abrupt end. Before the 3rd and deciding match even had a chance to begin, the Van Gherkin doubles side broke the deadlock and dispatched their two opponents.
Less than a minute later, captain of the Van Gherkin side Jack Almond, took out the third and final leg of his singles match to the cheers of the on looking students. “We’re absolutely delighted with the result this evening. I had a feeling we might win it tonight,” explained Almond, with the trophy in his arms.
“With its increasing popularity each year, President Dickinson only sees his society and the event improving and gaining more traction”
“It turned out to be a tough competition in the final. This is our first time playing darts together as a team, we weren’t in the competition last year. But, I mean, we were still pretty confident about it, and next year, same again!”
The Michael Van Gherkin 4-man team also took home the £100 cash prize. What would they do with it? “Sinners. What else can I say?” was the definitive answer given by Captain Almond.
With its increasing popularity each year, President Dickinson only sees his society and the event improving and gaining more traction. He wants to encourage beginners to see what the society has to offer, since the club doesn’t gain much exposure on a regular basis.
“A lot of people who are quite good feel like they’re not good enough for the darts team. But I’d encourage everyone to just come down give it a go. We’re a very sociable bunch, and that’s one of the big focuses of the team.”
The Darts Society meets every Tuesday evening at 7pm in the Union.