The weekend of the 23rd of November saw the Players Championship Finals being played out by many of the stars of the PDC circuit at the Butlins resort in Minehead. However, Saturday the 23rd of November was a significant day in the world of disability darts as it saw the inaugural ECA (England Compris Association) event take place.
The England Compris Association is sanctioned by the WDDA and is a new tour that enables anyone with a legally defined disability to compete and not just those with a disability recognised under the Paralympic qualification criteria. The tour is sponsored by leading darts manufacturer Winmau and our very own Jonty Eyre was on hand to report on the historic first event.
ECA darts 23rd November by Jonty Eyre
Saturday 23rd November 2019 was the dawn of a new era of disability darts. The event was the inaugural E.C.A (English Compris Association) event, and was held at Holditch Miners club near Stoke on Trent, under the banner of the W.D.D.A (World Disability Darts Association).
There were two tournaments of 12 players, who were in 2 groups of 6, playing a round robin format, they were excited darters ready to meet their opposition and gain points to qualify for the quarter finals.
One of the amazing matches I witnessed was between Paul “The Hamster” Hampton and Richard “Peg leg” Green, both well known, respected darters in the disability circuit.
The game started with Richard winning the nearest the bull and throwing first. He only scored 33 but made a quick comeback with a 74 next throw. Paul was not having a good start until he threw a super 100.
After Richard got an amazing 132 and won the first leg with an amazing double 16, double 12 checkout. After a few more throws Peg Leg gained 72. Paul then got a crucial 96 points, before Richard gained 125, as the game continued Paul continued to score low whilst Richard then threw double 8 to win leg 2. Leg 3 began with Paul throwing 58, followed by 100 , whilst Richard closely followed with 82 and 95 and 98. Paul had a finish but missed 5 darts at the double before finally getting his target and winning leg 3. He also won the fourth leg with a checkout of 60 after a flurry of decent scores from both players.
The players continued through the group stages earning points for qualification to the quarter finals. Soon the Semi finals were drawn and played in which I watched Kev “Tick Tock” Turner play Andy Quinn.
Kev had a smashing start of 121, followed by 41, 49, and 78. Andy had a decent start too but it wasn’t enough to stop Kev from winning the first leg. Andy scored highly in the 2nd leg with 100s it was quickly won by Andy after Kev unfortunately had lots of treble 20 bounce outs. The 3rd leg was off to a flying start with Andy and Kev scoring highly in the 100s, Andy gained the lead and won leg 3. The final leg was Kev and Andy got scores of 100, 119 and 81. Kev threw his darts to achieve 84 remaining. This unfortunately led to a number of bust scores leaving Andy to complete the leg and win a place in the final.
The first ECA classic final was played by Graham Mitchell “Mitch” and Andy “the Mighty” Quinn. The match started by Mitch winning the bull to go first. Both players started the match steadily Andy scoring 58 and 45 then Mitch responding with a 95 but Andy hit back with a 94 Mitch then replied with a 97 then Andy closed out the leg with a 100 then 72 to take the first leg.
In the second Andy hit a steady 60 then Mitch replied with a tremendous 160, another 100 by Andy then his next throw hit another 100 to leave 108 with Mitch sitting on 24 for the leg but missed crucial darts to take the leg. Then Andy closed it out with a 48 out shot.
Some good scores in the third leg from both players Mitch starting with an 85 to Andy’s 55 then Mitch fired in an impressive 121 but again Andy hit an equally impressive 123 of his own. Mitch again missed a costly double 16 as Andy pegged his out shot of 31 to close out the match 3 nil and become a very worthy champion.
A new competition called Compris (which enables many more disabled people to take part – not just those with paralympic specifications) took place at this event. I was delighted to see the new players work their magic on the oche with some outstanding players, for example Garry Bennet beat Gareth Smith 3 nil in the first semi final, he threw five 180s and an 11 darter en route to the final, in which he beat well known and respected BDO player Sue “the purple peril” Green.
I think that for the first event under the new association, these two tournaments were a huge success. It was an absolute joy to be involved in especially with Sky Sports there doing a documentary called “Game Changers” which is about disabled people in the world of sport.