Inspired Gradwell fight back secures Mark Williams Memorial Trophy

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The finals of this year’s Mark Williams Memorial trophy were hosted by Bedlington Station WMC and were sponsored by LWC North East Ltd with 16 of the region’s top darts players battling it out for the £1,000 first prize and the prestigious winners trophy and title.

With such a powerful line up it was inevitable that there would be some major early casualties.

First to see their hopes fade were Robbie Parker and Andy Gradwell, who were beaten 4-1 and 4-0 by Ryan Joyce and Kevin McDine.

Micky Luke and Adam Hunt were next to exit, Luke going down 4-3 to Davy Gradwell and Hunt losing by 4-3 to Chris Dobey.

Next on to the oche were Arthur Dobey and James Forster and alongside them were Alan Davie and Ian Dawson with Forster and Dawson taking the spoils in these two games 4-2 and 4-0 respectively.

The next two places were secured by Phil Borthwick and Gordon Dobey who put paid to the chances of Davy Dodds and Gary Robson, both by scores of 4-3.

In the quarter-finals, Joyce had a splendid 4-2 win over McDine while Gradwell was too strong for Chris Dobey in a 4-1 win. Forster had to be at his best in a 4-3 victory against Dawson while Gordon Dobey had an impressive 4-0 win over Phil Borthwick.

The first semi-final was Gradwell against Joyce with the former taking the initiative early on with 85, 121, 100 and a 95 check-out helping to secure the first leg.

Then 140, 100 and 96 scores increased his lead and a 15-dart game including scores of 140, 140, 60, 85 and 76 check-out made it 3-0 before he secured his place in the final with a 20-dart winning leg to complete a 4-0 win.

The second semi was between Dobey and Forster with Dobey taking the lead with 85, 121 and 97 scores in a 20-dart leg.

Last year’s champion Forster hit back in a 16-dart game of 70, 125, 140, 100, 26, double top to make it one all.

Shots of 125, 131 and 80 in an 18-dart game gave Forster the lead, which he extended in a 17-dart leg with the help of 97, 100 and 140 scores before completing his 4-1 victory with scores of 81, 100, 98 and 138 in 18 darts.

In the final, Gradwell took advantage of throwing first and 100, 125 and a 115 check-out in 18 darts gave him the lead.

Forster then clicked into gear with 99, 60, 140, 145 and a 57 check-out drawing him level in 15 darts, before 180, 131 and 96 scores put him in front after an 18-dart leg.

He increased his lead with another 18-dart game.

The best of nine legs final looked done and dusted as Forster went 4-1 up with a stunning 13-dart leg of 100, 180, 100, 89 and double 16.

But Gradwell was not going to give up without a battle and reduced the deficit with 140, 123 and 78 scores in a 16-dart leg, then scores of 82, 97, 85 and 121 pulled him to within one.

Gradwell then made it all square with a 17-dart leg of 85, 140, 100 and 56 check-out.

And the amazing come back was completed with Gradwell hitting scores of 95, 140, 99, 97 and checking out on 70 in a 15-dart championship winning game to claim the title.

During the tournament the youth players made a significant contribution to the game taking on the more experienced players without fear and were given their own tournament on the night with Joe Gaffney taking the spoils over Reece Aitman with Callam Rydz, Chris Bradley and Glen Thompson all putting up creditable performances.

Other achievements during the tournament were the highest check-outs during the rounds and Joe Gaffney 151, Robbie Parker 167, Mark Stephenson 170, Graham Fletcher 170, Chris Dobey 154, Davy Dodds 150 (twice), Alan Davie 131, and in the non qualifiers competition Keith Wright 161 and a ten-dart check-out from Paul Bell.

Prizes were presented on behalf of sponsors LWC North East by Bedlington Station WMC secretary Paul Smith.

The organisers thanked LWC North East and for their support of the competition.