By Dan Cavanagh
Offering something different from the usual straight-start tournaments we’ve become accustomed to on the Nomads MAD circuit, last weekend saw the Consett Station Club organising a double-in Grand Prix tournament. With all games recorded on Dart Connect and live-streamed on YouTube, I strongly encourage all readers to have a look for themselves some of the standard on show in this double start tourney.
The prelims started with a trio of MAD casualties which saw Jack Male, Brian Barnett Jr. and Stephen Mallams all bowing out in last leg deciders. Notably, Brian Barnett went three-nil up in the first game of the day, but he would go on to ultimately lose 4-3 due to an impressive Andrew Heppell comeback.
Alongside Barnett, Stephen Mallams started strongly going two-nil up courtesy of a sumptuous 153 finish. Strong starting on double 16, however, was not enough to secure the win for Mallams and David Crawley, showing excellent bottle, stole the game with a tidy 16 darts.
A somewhat unfortunate draw for Male, coming up against MAD heavy-hitter Ray Marshall, resulted in a closely-ran affair which Marshall overcame.
With all players involved in the following round, the players set out to lay down strong markers for the rest of play. The biggest splash came from Paul Nesbitt in his 4-0 whitewash over Tony Proctor, landing seven 140s and a maximum on his way to an 83.50 average.
Elsewhere, Scott Hunt was on the receiving end of a whitewash from eventual finalist Tony Wood and an all-Ray encounter went to a decider following the throw, resulting in Ray Foreman going through to the round of 16 due to a blunder in getting started in the last leg from Ray Marshall.
Tournament winner Geoff Murray set himself as a favourite during his round of sixteen tie with MAD member Paul Lawson. Firing in a 160 finish en route to a four-nil victory, Geoff’s 75.15 average ensured he was on his board final without dropping a leg.
Consolidating his outstanding display in the prior round, Paul Nesbitt was also in the habit of dishing out donuts, and in not wanting to be bested by Geoff, matched his average exactly.
All producing 70+ averages, the quarter-final field was bolstered by Eddie Mordica, Phil Borthwick and Ray Foreman. With attention on the aforementioned displays, Tony Wood slipped somewhat under the radar in his concise 4-2 victory over Gary Miller.
On to the board finals, Tony Wood and Geoff Murray slipped through to the next round with relative ease, and Paul Nesbitt joined them after coming through a precarious last-leg decider in what could only be described as a modest performance considering his running average for the day. Ray Foreman put in the performance of the round, remaining solid whilst doubling in, during his victory over Eddie Brown.
The double-start format, coupled with the increased pressure of tournaments latter stages, was present in the first leg of this semi-final affair. Having both appeared so dominant thus far, Wood and Foreman began their semi-final efforts on shaky terrain with Foreman pinching a 24-darter after Wood failed to pin tops on a shanghai effort.
Clearly frustrated by this, Wood set out to burst into the kind of form which had helped him to this stage. An ensuing hattrick of 14, 15 and 17 dart legs left Foreman dizzy as he tried to recall what had just happened.
A comfortable brace of 21-darters on either side of another leg won by Foreman sealed the MAD players spot into the final, finishing in style with a 116 check-out.
With the first three legs going with throw in the second semi, it was difficult to separate the two players. Nesbitt, whilst arguably scoring better out of the two, broke in the fourth with an 18-darter finished on 107. However, he failed to hold his throw and Geoff broke back and then held his own throw courtesy of a 156 out shot to go with the 160 he had already taken out on the day.
With the impetus firmly in Murray’s hands he broke Nesbitt again to go 4-3 up but failed to get a match dart in the resulting leg and Nesbitt held steady on a crucial double 4 to send the game hurtling into a final leg.
Surprisingly, Geoff failed to get going in his first six darts of the final leg and it seemed like Nesbitt would take the match, but it somehow fell away from him in the latter stages of the final leg. Even though he looked certain to win, having had a match dart at tops with Geoff stranded on 235, he missed an excruciating nine match darts and allowed Geoff Murray to clean up 25 to secure his place in the final.
Despite Tony Wood hitting five 140s in the first three legs, he somehow found himself three-nil down as a result of Geoff Murray’s concise 17, 20 and 16 dart leg efforts.
Compelled by such strong scoring, Wood returned in kind, turning the screw with 17 and 14 dart legs, adding a further four 140s to his tally and bringing the score line to a more realistic 3-2.
At times on Saturday, Wood was unplayable. When he found the treble with one dart, it felt inevitable that another would likely follow.
Nevertheless, Geoff Murray proved to be more than an even opponent for Wood as his consistently solid game allowed him to build confidence in his ability to hit the double.
This became increasingly evident in the final two legs of the match where Geoff, in winning both, pinned tops for an 18-darter and followed this up with a 112 finish in the next to consummate a brilliant performance and the victory.
A massive thank you to those at Consett Station Club who organised the event and well done to all of the players.
Last 16 –
Joe Weldon 4-2 Neil Tiffen
Tony Wood 4-2 Gary Miller
Ray Foreman 4-1 Neville Reed
Eddie Brown 4-3 John Purdy
Paul Nesbitt 4-0 John Kippen
Phil Borthwick 4-1 Jack Bell
Eddie Mordica 4-1 Paul Dinning
Geoff Murray 4-0 Paul Lawson
Last 8 –
Tony Wood 4-1 Joe Weldon
Ray Foreman 4-2 Eddie Brown
Paul Nesbitt 4-3 Phil Borthwick
Geoff Murray 4-1 Eddie Mordica
Tony Wood 5-2 Ray Foreman
Geoff Murray 5-4 Paul Nesbitt
Geoff Murray 5-2 Tony Wood
England Nomads MAD standings:
Phil Borthwick (229)
Jamie Durrant (177)
Raymond Marshall (136)
Paul Nesbitt (128)
Kevin McDine (122)
Carl Hamilton (107)
Stephen Mallams (81)
Jack Male (77
Tony Wood (74)
Christopher Dominey (62)