The University of Sheffield made it four wins out of four against Sheffield Hallam in the annual darts showdown, winning 5-2 to lift the trophy at the Octagon.
Hallam beat The University of Sheffield for only the second time in five years in February, winning 7-4 in the Northern Universities Darts League, setting them up nicely for Friday evening.
After a delay of approximately 15 minutes due to large queues, the contest for the Steel City Darts crown kicked-off with Will Sturla of Hallam versus Conall Doughty.
Making his debut in these events, Sturla began with a 140 to banish any nerves as he proceeded to win the first match 3-1 against Doughty, nicknamed Loves the Darts.
The crowd shared this view, as an early chant of ‘Stand up if you love the darts’ rang round the venue which is undoubtedly quieter when hosting graduation ceremonies and examinations.
Indications were for a decent match-up between Hallam’s Joe Berry and Thomas Hogg in the second game, since both players had previous checkouts of 170.
With 15 years of experience in the sport, Hogg threw a 140 during his victorious first leg, before sealing a 3-1 win with a double ten to bring the overall scores level.
Hogg said: “‘I thought I held up well, I probably played to 60-70% of my best. I was incredibly nervous – it’s impossible not to be up there.
“I played two years ago and lost, so I’m happy to correct that tonight with my first win. The crowd’s support was great – it’s always good to have an evenly split crowd.”
Having once reached the quarter-finals of the Greater Vancouver Open, the largest darts tournament in Canada, University of Sheffield’s local from Hillsborough, Tim Close, took to the oche to play Connor Bowler in the third match.
Not long after clinching the first leg, Bowler’s arms were aloft in response to the first 180 of the night. He looked unstoppable as he moved 2-0 ahead.
Incredibly, Close showcased his 20 years of darts experience as he turned the game completely on its head, sealed with a 68 checkout in the deciding leg.
Both players embraced, acknowledging the fact they had taken part in an extraordinary tussle, with Bowler remarking: “I started off well, but then went off the boil. In the end I couldn’t live up to expectations.
“The support was decent, although it did put me off a bit, though overall I was quite happy with my performance.”
After the close-call between Close and Bowler, the new doubles format was much more comprehensive as Luke Cowling and Matt Roye whitewashed Kieran Fitzgibbon and Curtis Thorpe of Hallam.
The University of Sheffield led 3-1, a second 180 of the night coming from Roye in the process.
On the back of four consecutive 180s in last year’s event, Danny Hall is fittingly nicknamed Daddy Cool and he faced Hallam’s Dec Parsons in the eagerly anticipated Captain’s Match following the interval.
Signs of mortality were evident however, as Parsons raced into a 2-0 lead. A comeback of Tim Close proportions was required from Daddy Cool, but it was not be as he was defeated 3-0 by a fired-up Hallam captain. It brought the overall score to 3-2 with two to play.
The Black and Gold’s skipper said: “I feel really good. Things could have gone differently, and I was predicting a close score, a 4-3.
“I think it turned on Tim Close, who played really well, and after that we got important wins at the right time. Winning it with one to go was fantastic.
“It was the first time I went in as favourite, and the pressure told, as last year I played out of my skin. The team won, though, so I’m happy.”
Ritesh Deo from Singapore then took on Hallam’s Eddie Castaldo. Hallam smelt blood after Hall’s mauling. Castaldo took a 1-0 lead but despite a relatively modest two years of experience, Deo responded emphatically.
Three consecutive games from Deo secured the Darts Steel City Crown for The University of Sheffield, taking an unassailable 4-2 lead.
A dead rubber finished things off, but the crowd remained vocal as Adam Warner beat Hallam’s Charlie ‘Fire Marshall’ 3-1.
The final score of 5-2 meant it was the University of Sheffield lifting the trophy.
Interviews courtesy of Matthew Hartill