11 of Exeter University Darts Society’s finest players made the long trip up north to Lancaster last month to take part in the University Darts Championships, reaching the semi-final stage of the competition in a blistering performance by the team.
Having won the Plate Championship two years previously, the team had already tasted success in the event but wanted to go one step further and win the Cup Championship this time around. The task wouldn’t be an easy one though – in order to make it through to the Cup competition, Exeter would have to top their qualifying group consisting of UWE, Loughborough, Lancaster Women and defending champions Lancaster.
Having seen off the challenges of UWE, Loughborough and Lancaster Women early on that day, Exeter were left with a deciding match against Lancaster to decide who would top the group and advance to the Cup.
The game kicked off in explosive fashion with a ‘180’ from Scott Stoyles being hit in the first leg of the triples match. It wasn’t enough to stop Lancaster taking an early lead however, but the team wrestled back momentum after the three doubles fixtures to take the score to 2-2. During that time, Jamie ‘The Horror’ Gore had also landed a maximum, as well as two more being hit by Lancaster players.
This left the game finely poised going into the nine singles matches. Two apiece slipped to 5-3 down in a blink, Gore and Tom Dummigan both knowing that wins in their respective matches were vital. They didn’t disappoint; excellent darts from the pair of them brought the game back to 5-5, with the match hanging on a knife edge.
It was effectively now a best of three, and first up for Exeter was Alex ‘The Milky Bar Kid’ Williams, who lost out a tough competitor. Exeter now needed wins from both the last two games to achieve victory, and it was time for Exeter’s skipper, Jack ‘Cheesestring’ Williams, to play a captain’s innings.
Somehow, against Lancaster’s star player, a 1-0 deficit in the match was turned around for a 2-1 victory with a tense double 9 taking the tie into a decider. Luckily for Exeter, they held an ace up their sleeve in the form of David ‘Three Pints’ Collis, who showed class and experience in taking his tie into its final leg but was then outscored and beaten to first shot at a double in the decider.
The Exeter team simply couldn’t look as the Lancaster player threw for the match. He missed. Exeter breathed a sigh of relief before Collis went and took out the double two with his second dart to send the team into hysterics. They had knocked out the defending champions and made it through to the Cup semi-finals for the first time in the teams’ history.
Two days later, Exeter drew Oxford in the Cup semi-final. Confidence appeared to still be high in the camp, but unfortunately for Exeter their performance from days before couldn’t be repeated, the team losing 7-1 to a well-drilled Oxford team. Oxford went on to become the eventual champions so the score line was no disgrace, and there was a feeling that perhaps Exeter had played their final days before.
Even so, the victory over Lancaster and qualification for the cup was an unbelievable achievement for a society that is only now in its fourth year – and with the talent in the society set to be around for next years’ event, it can only be a matter of time before Exeter Darts reach the very top!
Exeter University Darts Society