Arrows fans fly in to watch the darts

Pictures:Bill Johnson.'The opening evening at the BetVictor World Matchplay Darts, in Blackpool's Winter Gardens Empress Ballroom.
Pictures:Bill Johnson.'The opening evening at the BetVictor World Matchplay Darts, in Blackpool's Winter Gardens Empress Ballroom.
0
Have your say

It was standing room only as thousands of people turned up at the Winter Gardens for the opening nights of the BetVictor World Matchplay Darts championship.

The floor was shaking as darts fans from all over the country piled into the Empress Ballroom to watch Terry Jenkins and Andy Smith battle it out in the first round on Saturday. And the crowd erupted each time one of the players scored a perfect 180.

Pictures:Bill Johnson.'The opening evening at the BetVictor World Matchplay Darts, in Blackpool's Winter Gardens Empress Ballroom. Terry Jenkins.

Pictures:Bill Johnson.'The opening evening at the BetVictor World Matchplay Darts, in Blackpool's Winter Gardens Empress Ballroom. Terry Jenkins.

The evening saw victory for James Wade, Raymond van Barneveld, Simon Whitlock and Terry Jenkins.

But the whole night was a winner for the scores of people who came out to enjoy an evening of the sport.

Stephen Lomas, 34, travelled with five of his friends from Burnley to watch the first matches of the tournament.

He said: “We’ve come to Blackpool just for this.

“I’ve been watching darts for 25 years and have always wanted to see it live, but I’ve never been able to do it. I’ve just watched it at home on television, but this is loads better.”

Diane Smith travelled in a group of 10 friends, all dressed as different animals, from Redcar in Cleveland to celebrate her 40th birthday.

And their reasons for dressing up?

“To get on TV,” Diane said. “We’ve been all over to see the darts, and we’re really excited to have come to Blackpool for the weekend to see it this year.”

Diane and her friends weren’t the only darts fans to dress up for the occasion, as the room was full of people in fancy dress.

Sean Curt and his friends from Northampton were dressed as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

Sean too was celebrating his 40th birthday, so was dressed as Snow White.

He said: “We’ve come to Blackpool for the weekend, but darts was our main reason for coming.”

The championship runs for nine days, with the final played on Sunday.