MORE than 80 of town’s top darts players faced off in the prestigious Friday night singles with surprise winners at all four venues.

The event, run by the Swindon & District Darts League which is sponsored by the Advertiser, included the likes of PDC regulars Dennis Smith, Johnny Haines, Chris Aubrey and Mark Cox but none were successful in their bid for victory.

A number of players with some PDC experience, including Jack Tweddell, Richard North, John Newland and Josh McCarthy, also took part but none of them were celebrating at the end of the evening.

Bob Phillips was the victor at the Duke while Steve Willard took the honours at Swiss Chalet, with Tony Clark finishing at the head of the field at the Fox & Hounds and Nick Budgen winning the prize at The Bakers Arms in Stratton. The quartet will now play the semi-finals and the final at the league’s presentation night later in the year.

League chairman Darrell Townsend, who himself played in the UK Open last year and competed in the singles at Swiss Chalet, was impressed with the standard of darts on display as well as the turnout for the prestigious event.

“We had more than 120 players sign up for the singles but even though a few dropped out and didn’t end up playing, to have 80 was great,” he said.

“We used to have it all at one venue before but I we’ve had so many players contact us we’ve had to spread it over four venues because there would simply be too many players to fit and we would never get it finished.

“There was some great darts on display, as well as some bad, which I suppose is inevitable. I was at Swiss Chalet and there were some really good games all night but the final ended up being a little one-sided although it was a really good night.

“It was all played in a positive spirit which is the main thing and we’re already looking forward to the next one.”

Townsend is proud of how quickly the league has grown since its inception last year and he and his committee are already looking at ways of expanding.

“Everything seems to be going phenomenally well for us to be honest and since we set the new league up it’s gone from strength to strength which is great for everyone involved,” he said.

“All the teams got on board and were really positive from the start, which was great, so now we are looking to move things forward and try new things to help the league grow.

“It’s going better than we ever expected and now we’re looking at opening up more tournaments as we try and grow this.

“The standard of darts in the town is really good at the moment and it’s great to be able to be involved in that in this way.”