*I know this event happened nearly two months ago, (Friday March 1) but it was my first sports byline in print and I wanted to share it with you!
|My wristband. VIP guest! Top pros Simon Whitlock and Adrian Lewis |
were among the players I interviewed.
IN FRONT of a sell-out crowd at Lower Hyde, Shanklin, darts prodigy Keegan Brown lapped up the support at the IW Pro Masters.
Despite losing against winner Raymond van Barneveld 5-3, Keegan, 20, of Newport, scored six 180s during an impressive performance and came close to a nine-darter.
Keegan, who is 86th in the PDC order of merit, said he felt nervous during the first leg but got into a steady rhythm when the adrenaline kicked in.
“It was fantastic up there, to have everyone chanting your name was quality. You cannot beat it,” he said.
“This has been great for the IW. 750 people were here tonight and it felt the whole Island was here to support us. It was absolutely brilliant.”
Keegan stepped up to the oche with winners of the IW qualifiers, Gavin Hicks, Tony Broughton and Nick Popham and top pros Raymond, Simon Whitlock, James Wade and Adrian Lewis.
For the event, the IW players were drawn against the pros in a knock-out contest, with the semi-finals and final scheduled straight after.
It was the biggest stage for all four IW players, who said that playing against their idols was an incredible experience.
Gavin Hicks, 30, of Freshwater, who lost 5-2 to Adrian, said: “Being up there, which was the biggest stage I have ever been on, was electric.
“If you said to me before the game I would’ve got two legs against Lewis and score the first 180 of the match, I would have snapped your hand off.”
Adrian, who lost to Simon in the semi-finals, added: “I thought Gavin played really well. I thought it would be a tough game against him because he has one of the highest averages on the Island.”
Not only did the evening give a platform to the players, it showed the Island could benefit from hosting big sporting events.
One spectator Lee Dowding, 43, of East Cowes, said: “It’s been fantastic to see the professionals in person rather than on the television. It would be great to have another event like this again.”
And organiser John Abbott added he hoped to host another IW Pro Masters next year, as Friday was a successful and entertaining evening.
“It’s the first time it has happened so far on the Island,” he said. “I think it has got people aware that we can put events like this on.”
“The tickets sold out in around four weeks and more than half of them were sold in 24 hours thanks to the County Press.
“It wasn’t about the money, it was about having a good night and that’s why we organised it.”
Quarter-finals: Adrian Lewis 5, Gavin Hicks 2; Simon Whitlock 5, Tony Broughton 2; James Wade 5, Nick Popham 0; Raymond van Barneveld 5, Keegan Brown 3. Semi-finals: Adrian Lewis 3, Simon Whitlock 5; James Wade 3, Raymond van Barneveld 5. Final: Simon Whitlock 4, Raymond van Barneveld 5.
*Published in the Isle of Wight County Press