Team Unicorn provided both the finalists at the Stan James World Matchplay at Blackpool and it was a pure pleasure to commentate on the match.
Colin Lloyd and John Part provided a feast of darting excellence and Jaws ran out a convincing winner by 18 legs to 11. In the Lloyd performance were 15 180s, some if which landed in an area the size of a gnat’s eye. The massive colourful audience — Tarts for Darts, Fin Heads, Cardinals and Nuns — loved it. According to the Guardian columnist Martin Kelner, I was on majestic verbal fire when I roped in the novelist Joseph Conrad, Welsh wizard politician Aneurin Bevan and Victor Sylvester and his Ballroom Orchestra to capture the pulsing atmosphere and tempo of proceedings. The latter were certainly regulars at the Winter Garden and there is evidence that Conrad hit Blackpool when he was a jobbing matelot.
Generally, the week was the most dramatic I have ever covered. On Wednesday night Unicorn’s Phil Taylor looked uncomfortable against Dennis Priestley but scrambled a win. Sky viewing for darts is usually 150,000 sets but this match more than doubled that figure. The emergence of the Jackpot Kid, Adrian Lewis, was fabulous. He has the aggro of Alan Evans, the flash of the young Bristow and the cuddliness of Jocky. And Wayne Mardle failed once again to find consistency.
But in general, and on evidence of this week by the sea, our sport is buoyant, or as Conrad would say, ‘Here is indeed the Heart of Dartness.
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