Commentators were calling it the greatest game ever in the thirty years that the Lakeside Country Club has been hosting the BDO World Professional Darts championships.
Whether or not they are correct is obviously a matter of opinion, but last night’s semi-final between three-times winner Martin Adams and Middlesbrough’s Glen Durrant was a couple of hours of the most compelling sporting drama I’ve ever seen.
In only his second appearance at the Lakeside “Duzza” had played particularly well to reach the last four, yet outside the world of darts, he was unlikely to be a household name. It didn’t help that the BBC failed to show any of his matches live, but anyone who tuned in to BT Sport and watched those incredible eleven sets of darts will know they witnessed a classic encounter that will be remembered and talked about for years to come.
There were so many twists and turns that it would be impossible to try and describe the ebb and flow of the match. Suffice to say the scoring and averages were exceptional, with twelve-dart legs and ton-plus finishes coming with remarkable regularity. Perhaps the moment that encapsulated the level that the players achieved was when Adams missed (by a fraction) double 12 for an historic 9-dart finish... then Glen calmly stole the leg. It was brilliant stuff; draining to watch, so I can’t imagine how the players were able to control their nerves and emotions to maintain such a high standard over an extended period of time.
I suppose the game was almost destined to go to a deciding set, and despite a sublime 124 finish to edge in front (the photo shows Glen’s reaction), it was Adams who eventually prevailed. Both players had the chance to seal victory before “Wolfie” hit the decisive double 13, and I’m sure those moments will be replayed over and over again in Glen’s mind over the next few days and weeks.
Glen looked crestfallen as he left the stage, and very emotional during his post-match interview with Helen Skelton. He’d spoken with great dignity all week; and time and time again, he’d said he wanted to bring the title home to Middlesbrough—and maybe one day he will—although I’m sure he’ll be slightly embarrassed about wearing his north-east heart so openly on his sleeve.
But he shouldn’t be. It takes a level of skill and mental toughness way beyond the overwhelming majority of dart lovers to get up on stage and produce such a brilliant performance. That it wasn’t quite good enough is a credit to Adams rather than any reflection on Glen. If he wanted to make Middlesbrough (in particular Grangetown and North Ormesby) proud, he had done that before the semi-final. Last night simply reinforced the facts that Glen is not only a fantastic player, but also a genuinely top bloke.
I am incredibly lucky not only to know Glen, but to have shared a stage with him (albeit not for very long... I got stuffed!); and really, there’s only one thing left to say: “Mon the Duzza!!!”
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