Many of those who competed in the BBC-televised men’s and women’s Lakeside World Championship in Surrey are expected to toe the oche at the Villa Marina including runner up Alan Norris, 2013 world champ Scott Waites and three times world champ Martin Adams. Making a return to the BDO circuit and the Manx championship is double world champ Ted “The Count” Hankey, a previous winner of the island tournament. Former world title holder Andy “The Viking” Fordham, who continues his bid to battle back into the darting limelight following illness, is also hoping to compete in the popular Manx championship. The four day tournament bulls off on Thursday March 6 at the Villa Marina.
Defending title holder and former world champ Anastasia Dobromyslova will be a strong contender to retain her title but Lancashire’s world champ Lisa Ashton will be keen to show her Frimley Green success was no fluke, while Welsh international Julie Gore – four times a Manx winner – and five times island winner Deta Hedman will be keen to extend their success in the island competition. And nine times world champ Trina Gulliver – awarded the MBE in the New Year’s Honours – will be gunning for her third Manx title.
Twelve months ago Wayne Harrison celebrated his move to the island 10 years earlier, winning the festival warm-up singles. The Laxey player’s success followed islander Colin Tyrer’s victory in the same event two years earlier.
Their success against top county players demonstrated the island darting pedigree but can they move up ladder of success and scoop the big one this year?
Tournament director Les France of LF Promotions said: “The island has a wealth of darting talent – both men and women. This festival of darts gives them the opportunity to test themselves against some of the world’s top players.
“And at the end of the day, this sport is all about confidence. All players have the same number of darts and a few morale-boosting darts from the islanders could see their more experienced opponents buckling and missing important doubles. I t would be fitting as we hurtle towards the 30th tournament in 2015 to see a good run for islanders in this year’s competition,” said France.
And there are once again cash bonuses on offer to islanders in this, the 29th staging of the darts festival. There is the chance to grab a share of cash being offered for the most successful islander in the men’s and women’s events.
And this year there is a £150 bonus on offer to the man or woman notching the highest checkout.
Play at the island championship starts on Thursday evening with the new Isle of Man Classic, the women’s singles backed by Specsavers and the men’s event sponsored by Okells Brewery. Prizemoney will be paid down to the last 16 in both events with the men’s winner pocketing £750 and the women’s winner £600.
Friday night sees the mixed pairs while the under-18s do battle for the eye-catching £200 top prize in the Winmau-backed youth championship. More importantly there is a chance for the top teenager to win through to the finals of the Winmau World Masters tournament in the north east of England during the autumn.
Saturday is devoted to the prestige Isle of Man International Darts Festival singles – with £5000 going to the men’s winner and £3000 to the winner of the women’s singles.
The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company is offering £150 to the most successful male islander in the competition, while the top Manx woman will win £100.
And this year for the first time there is a cash bonus for the best checkouts during Saturday’s play. Quids Inn – the popular seafront bar in Douglas – is offering £250 for the highest finish achieved.
They are also providing £100 to the best island checkout on the day.
Sunday – the final day of competition – sees the men’s and women’s doubles played during the morning with the finals of all competitions decided on Sunday afternoon in an exciting climax to the four day tournament on stage in the Royal Hall.
Admission to the Villa Marina is free of charge for spectators. Competition entry forms are available from the Welcome Centre at the Sea Terminal or on-line at www.visitisleofman.com
Keep up to date with tournament news – follow the festival’s Twitter and Facebook accounts – @iomdartsfest and https://www.facebook.com/IOMDartsFestival
Further information and entry details are available from 0161 793 6909 or firstname.lastname@example.org