Again in the morning of the finals day of the UK Open I met German players Rene Eidams and Gabriel Clemens in the breakfast room of my bed and breakfast. Actually I had an appointment with them the day before in the press room - as it turned out they had tried to get there, but one had denied them the access there as well as to the venues. Butlin's had decided to close down the resort on Saturday morning completely which meant all the remaining guests had to leave and only players who still were in the tournament and their guest were allowed to get in and of course all the PDC staff including the officials and security and the ITV people. Not really a decision supported by the PDC...
On Sunday morning the sun was shining, it was quite warm and most of the snow had disappeared from the main roads and the snow continued to thaw away all day.
As on the days before on my way to Butlin's I passed the station of the West Somerset Railway which is now-a-days only a tourist attraction during summer. You can travel by it from Minehead almost till Taunton. Would the train still go all the year it probably wouldn't have been so difficult to get to and from Minehead over the last few days. But one can only reach Minehead by road and the roads had disappeared for almost three days under the snow masses.
Minehead never would become a center of tourism without the trains to Taunton which existed since 1874. The trains transported even the pupils till 1970 when the first school buses were introduced. And when more and more tourist used their own cars instead of the trains the train line was finally closed down in the 1970s. There were ideas to keep it open as a private train line but the bus companies did all to hinder it and the private investors run out of money as well especially when it turned out it was not profitable any longer to let run the trains all year. The plans for an all year train line nevertheless still exist and now - as the line is so successful with the tourists - a lot of the financial problems could be solved. Who knows should we face another red weather alarm in the future during the UK Open again we might be able to get to Minehead by train. To finish of the WSR topic before returning to the darts an episode which happened on 2. March 1964 - 54 years before the gridlock which challenged the UK Open: On that day all hell had broken loose at the station, even the pupils had got a few hours off. The Beatles arrived in Minehead to do shootings for their first film "A Hard Days Night". They even had charted their own train to get there and of course the BBC was in Minehead as well and showed everything later in the local news.
Butlin's was ghostly empty with the exception of the before mentioned people. And me - the only media outside the PDC who had made it to Minehead. The quarterfinals in the afternoon were all rather one sided affairs even the so promising looking clash between Gray Anderson and Rob Cross which was dominated by Anderson. Steve West was not able to keep up with Dave Pallett. John Part didn't look really fit and in no way could repeat his performances of the days before. Robert Owen had quite an easy win against him. Corey Cadby really was too much for Gerwyn Price. So the afternoon session was over soon and everybody prepared for the evening. The trophy turned up freshly polished from somewhere, the PDC photographer tried to find out which would be the best places to take pictures from during the presentation and let me in on it. We all had pizza and people discussed who in the end would be the winner. I had asked the same question in the morning when talking to Gabriel and Eidams and they had agreed the tournament's winner would be the winner of the match between Rob Cross and Gary Anderson.
The first semi-final started rather slow but the players improved till Gary Anderson assumed command. In the end he won 11:7 and progressed into the final. Nevertheless Dave Pallett had impressed very much with his performances. He doesn't even own a tour card and played himself into the semi-finals - one of the astonishing stories of this extraordinary tournament.
Robert Owen at the start of the second semi-final looked somehow intimidated though Corey Cadby really greeted him very kindly. But perhaps Owen had started to mull over what had happened to him so far. Cadby this time had no slow start into the match as in some of his matches before and looked very focused. When the players went into the first break he led 5:0 and Owen never had had a single dart on a double. Cadby played on after the break as before - well not really because Owen managed to get his first leg on the board before the second break. The first leg after this break got the Australian but Owen had decided not to give in yet and managed to win to more legs which he duly celebrated. But then Cadby finished the match despite a phone started to ring just as he was about to release his last dart. Cadby turned with a smile to the small crowd, refocused and hit the winning double. After a short discussion both players threw some of their flights into the cheering "crowd" .
After the second semi-final the stage suddenly was full. The board was changed, a small table turned up and a person from dartconnect appeared and explained on a screen to Ned Boulting and Chris Mason how all the data is stored and how you can recall it, a young man with a cordless screwdriver watched in case the table would break down.Then ITV started to broadcast again and Boulting and Mason by now expertly explained the television viewers what the data can be used for..
Soon the final started and Cadby made Anderson sweat. When Cadby is in full swing he is some kind of natural force one almost can't dodge. And by now Cadby was in full swing. He averaged 106.46 to Anderson's 93.0 at this time and he hit 80 percent of his doubles.
But then you could almost see how Anderson pulled himself together and took the gloves off. He rung rings around the young player and Cadby grew more and more desperate. He tried to slow down the match but had no chance at all. It looked that while throwing 180 in one of the last legs Anderson's back problems returned as Anderson tried to loosen his back between his throws. Beside he threw even faster now like he wanted to finish the job as fast as possible and only a few legs later he had won his first UK Open title. Cadby looked inconsolable and had to blink back his tears while Anderson celebrated.
So in the end one of the top players and top favourites won the tournament after all though the real heroes of this year's UK Open we will all remember were outsiders like Pallett, Owen or Part.
Once again I walked back into the press room were dismantling was already in full swing. Even most of the cables had already disappeared and I struggled to find a functioning socket for my laptop. Outside most of the snow had disappeared, the air smelled like spring, the resort was deserted and the parking places empty.
A really memorable tournament was over and I am sure neither the players the officials, the security the ITV crew or the PDC staff had any problems to leave Minehead. It was already hard to recall the snow chaos of Thursday, Friday and Saturday...