Images: Petroc Taylor
Ex-York student Alex Harrison was the star performer in this weekend’s UDUK Big Darts Weekender, claiming the UK University Singles Championship for the second year running.
Harrison was also victorious in the UK University Alumni Championships on Sunday, while York’s team claimed third place in the UNICUP which was won by rivals Lancaster.
The weekend’s events in Hendrix Hall started on Saturday with the singles competition, with Harrison looking to defend the title he won last year.
He came up against Lancaster captain Martin Bridson in the semi finals, showcasing some spectacular form early on to race into a three leg advantage. Bridson responded well, but the York man ultimately had too much class and came out with a 5-3 win.
He then went on to face Mark Howard, the former Edge Hill student who he defeated last year. Howard, a former champion and already twice runner-up, was out for revenge after overcoming another Lancaster man, Jordan Robson, in his semi, but it was Harrison who established an early lead once more. Both players looked nervy in the opening stages, but Harrison was able to open up a 4-1 gap to his opponent.
An astonishing seventh leg in which Howard produced two 180s was the highlight for the challenger, but Harrison eventually closed out a 6-3 win to hang on to his crown.
He wasn’t finished there, though, as he went on to take the alumni championship title the following day.
York were also looking for success in the UNICUP team event, but faced tough opposition in the form of Oxford and Lancaster. The home team of Harrison, Nick Hall, Chris West, Richard Allen, Harry Smith, Jonny Law, Lee McManus, Kris Hilliam and Will Adam were beaten 11-5 in their opening fixture against Oxford, who were in turn thrashed 14-2 by Lancaster.
Going into their match against the Red Rose, York still harboured hopes of finishing in second place, though it was always going to be an uphill task against a Lancaster side that are on a long undefeated streak.
The Lancaster team quickly wrapped up enough games to see them win overall and, despite the best efforts of the Black and Gold side, quickly reached the seven legs necessary to secure two wins from two.
York Darts Chairman Nick Hall reflected on the weekend’s event, telling Nouse, “The weekend has been absolutely fantastic – we had 127 players yesterday. We had two wins for York in the singles and alumni competitions from Alex Harrison, and it’s been really enjoyable. Getting everything in one place and playing the tournaments together was really great, especially for teams like Exeter and LSE who have to travel a long way.
“Roses is going to be our focus now. It’s going to be a great contest as one of the premier events on the Saturday night and hopefully we can get a big York crowd down, and hopefully the atmosphere can be different to previous years but still as fiery and fierce.
“Lancaster have done really well this year, and I’ve got to say congratulations to them. They were the better team on the day but hopefully that will change come Roses.”