HUNDREDS of punters are set to fill Clickimin this weekend to catch some of the planet’s leading darts players – including the reigning world champion and the world number one – in action.
The Shetland Darts Masters, which has been staged in six of the last seven years, is continuing to attract some of the sport’s most prestigious names. This year they include Scottish star Gary Anderson and Dutchman Michael van Gerwen.
Several hundred people are again expected to attend the event on Saturday night, and Shetland Darts Masters (SDM) co-director Gideon Ward said it looked set to be another successful evening.
It has grown into one of the largest-scale events on the Shetland calendar since Ward first staged a couple of darts events in the Burra Hall in 2009.
Following those events he hooked up with Shetland Recreational Trust’s Robert Geddes, who at the time was putting together a programme to celebrate Clickimin’s twenty-fifth anniversary.
“This will be the sixth in seven years – we’ve managed to keep it going,” Ward said. “It’s quite rare [to have an event] on this scale. There are darts exhibitions throughout the country, but it’s usually just two players.”
In addition to Anderson, the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) world champion, and van Gerwen, the British Darts Organiastion (BDO) world number one, six other top players will be taking part.
Ward said the line-up was a mixture featuring “some top rankers, some crowd favourites, some up-and-comers and some old favourites – a varied mix to keep the interest going”.
This year SDM is also organising a mirror event, the Granite City Darts Masters, in Aberdeen on Friday.
Other names on the tournament bill include Terry Jenkins, who Ward said was “very popular in Shetland – a kind of people’s favourite”. The Englishman has reached nine major PDC finals and finished runner-up every time.
Anderson, known as “The Flying Scotsman”, is coming to Shetland with one of his protégés, Michael Smith, a Merseysider who he is currently mentoring and managing.
Dutchman Vincent van der Voort, renowned for his “extremely fast” playing style, will join countryman van Gerwen, while former BDO world champion Steven Bunting, Scott Mitchell and Paul Nicholson complete the line-up.
Ward said most of the players tend to come from “humble” backgrounds and tend to be “quite down-to-earth” despite the fame that has come their way.
He said staging the darts masters had done the sport’s standing in Shetland no harm. Ward reckons darts is second only to football in popularity, with a Shetland-wide league featuring three divisions and numerous competitions running regularly in communities including Scalloway, Whalsay and the south end.
With the sport’s global popularity having taken a “huge leap forward in the years we’ve been doing it”, the cost of staging the masters in Shetland has risen too and Ward is unsure whether it will be possible to keep putting on such a big event.
“Last year was exceptionally good and hopefully we can repeat that,” he said. “It’s getting more and more difficult to put events on to this scale. There’ll definitely be events in the future, but whether we can do it on this scale is questionable.”
- Bleacher seats for Saturday’s Shetland Darts Masters, priced £48, are available from Shetland Box Office. There are also a limited number of tables still available, which can be booked by phoning (01595) 745555.
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