Redtooth Darts National Final – Sunday 9th December 2012
Alea Casino, Leeds
Amos refuses to be rattled by Rice as he sets up the Redtooth Darts final revenge date at the Ally Pally!
As the dart players entered the Alea Casino in Leeds at around midday on Sunday there was clearly a buzz of anticipation and expectancy in the air.
The practice boards were peppered with arrows flying in from all four corners of the UK and indeed the world; over sixty of the best amateur dart players vying for one of the sixteen places in Qualifying School for the Professional Darts Corporation, and of course the opportunity to play darts with the greatest ever player, fifteen-time world champion Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor, on that very same evening.
Further, for the top two players on the day, a date on the Alexandra Palace stage beckoned, just two weeks from now.
Craig Caldwell from New Zealand and Gary Rigby from the UAE looked very dangerous in the group stages, making their long trip worthwhile as they cruised through to the last 32. Both players had emerged through gruelling regional finals in their respective countries, with Craig fending off ninety other Aussie/New Zealand hopefuls to make it through.
Sadly, for South Africa’s Clifford Stradling and Romania’s Csaby Komsa, it was an early exit at the group stages; alas, both players enjoyed their three matches and would go on to enjoy some Redtooth Darts challenges with ‘The Power’ in the evening, as indeed did Belfast’s Ryan Esler, who also fell at the group stages after travelling across from the West Belfast Community Darts Club in Northern Ireland.
Many of the UK-based players looked dangerous in the early stages on Sunday, particularly The Albion in Bridlington’s Steve ‘The Rattler’ Rice, who cruised through his group, then swept past Rileys Northampton’s Liam Fox in the last 32 to set up a tasty last 16 clash with Bellingham Ex-Servicemen’s Paul Amos, who won the South East regional final at London Victoria two weeks earlier.
Last 16 losers would have the opportunity to win their way back in to the competition as twelve players would emerge on the day to be joined by the four Team Taylor winners from earlier in the year.
Rice rattled past Amos 3-0 in the last 16 but it was not to be the end for the Catford thrower, Amos, as he beat Rose Grove’s (Burnley) Michael Taylor in the ‘lucky losers’ match to get back in the competition.
Other last 16 qualifiers included four players from Phil Taylor’s home town, Stoke on Trent: twenty-one year-old Jamie Landon and Karl Merchant representing A180 Darts and John Burgess and Mark Robbins playing out of The Talbot. All four players looked extremely dangerous on the day and will be forces to be reckoned with at Qualifying School in January.
Sir John Barleycorn’s (Hitchin) Lionel Sams played well all day long as he rolled back the years, until he came up against Stoke’s Burgess in the quarter finals; Burgess emerging the 3-2 victor.
Rileys Scunthorpe’s Mark Wilson avenged an earlier group defeat against his Scunthorpe teammate Vinnie Hawksworth by edging past him 3-2 in the last 32. Wilson’s run came to an end against Rileys Coventry’s Mark Westgarth in the last 16 though (1-3).
There were similar stories for Easthouses Road Miners Welfare Club’s (Dalkeith) David Sharp, Six Bells’ Jamie Ellam, Rileys Leicester’s Jay Wilson, Stoke’s Jamie Landon and Mark Robbins, Foleys Bar’s (Wexford, ROI) David Murphy and Exhibition’s Darren Cotterell, as all players fell at the last 16 stage but qualified for Qualifying School entry and mentoring from Taylor: a successful day’s work!
Burgess was to be joined by Steve Rice in the semi-finals as ‘the rattler’ edged past Abu Dhabi’s Gary Rigby (originally from Wigan) in the last 8; Gary will return to his home town in January for Qualifying School; Rice would go on to face Burgess in the semi-finals.
After refusing to be rattled by his defeat to Rice earlier in the competition, Amos became the third semi-finalist by defeating Stoke’s Merchant 3-1 in the quarter finals and he would be joined by Rileys Edinburgh’s Darren Beveridge in the other semi-final. There were ‘beverages’ all round for the Edinburgh thrower as he edged past Mark Westgarth in a tense affair in the last 8.
So, one more victory for Bridlington thrower, Rice, would see him play on stage at the Alexandra Palace, a year after winning the John Smith’s People’s Darts final on the Lakeside stage in 2011. A victory was indeed on the cards as Steve edged past Burgess 3-2 on the day.
The other semi-final saw Amos beat Beveridge 3-1 to set up the clash on stage at the Ally Pally and the opportunity to avenge the defeat inflicted by Rice earlier in the competition.
The Redtooth Darts UK final will take place on the 23rd December and promises to be a terrific affair. Very best of luck to both players and to all sixteen players going to Qualifying School for the PDC in January.