FURTHER evidence that local darts is going from strength to strength came with a record 64 players taking part in the
Friday Benevolent League’s Benevolent Cup knockout at the Newtown Social Club.
With last year’s champion not taking part a new winner was a cert this year, but 2012 runner-up Gary Blackwood went out to Secretaries’ KO winner Nathan Warren in the first round.
The first two quarter finals saw Graeme Dutton (POW Z) take on Chris Osborne (Chi Snooker B) and Andy Stubbs (Chi Snooker B) come up against Chris Gatford (Chi Snooker B).
Dutton saw off Osborne and Gatford got revenge on team-mate Stubbs for knocking out his wife Hayley Gatford in the previous round, making his way to the semis for the second year on the trot.
The other quarter-finals saw Dave Juniper (Claremont Cobras) up against Bradley Marshall (Richmond Royals) and team-mates Sam Abrehart and Dave Owens (POW Z) do battle.
Juniper had taken out the Captains’ KO winner in round two, but Marshall was too much for him. Meanwhile the division-one pairs and trebles KO champions were in a battle, which Abrehart won, denying Owens his place in the semis - as he had last year.
So, the semis pitted Dutton versus Gatford and Marshall versus Abrehart. This was Gatford’s seventh attempt to win the Benevolent title and once again he failed to go beyond the semi-finals, as Dutton just managed to squeeze him aside
and make his way to the final.
As for Abrehart, this was his eighth Benevolent knockout and he won it back in 2006-07 aged 17. Could Marshall go one better and beat that record? He was in with a chance as he knocked out Abrehart to get to his first knockout final in his debut season.
The final started with two tons on the trot putting youth player Marshall in front, but Dutton fought back. Marshall scored 82 to leave double top, but Dutton was on double eight and hit it with his first dart to take the first leg.
The second leg saw Marshall start with 140, but the same score by Dutton later in the leg saw it even out. Two large scores and a mistake by Dutton at the end of the leg saw him leave two, whilst Marshall left himself 16. Marshall had played so well all night, but Dutton had only played this knockout once before, and was practicing for his Sussex match at the weekend.
Double one would give him the title, which he took with his next throw to become this year’s Benevolent Cup knockout