Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Tees Aces Look to Seven Heaven

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Tees Aces Look to Seven Heaven

Article excerpt

Byline: ADAM STEEL

THE annual tournament known as the FA Cup of Darts kicks off at Bolton's Reebok Stadium tomorrow - with an event-record number of Teessiders aiming for big name scalps.

The pounds 200,000 Blue Square UK Open features 129 players - and seven from Middlesbrough.

Glen Durrant, Gary Stephens, Chris Hornby and Dave Smurthwaite have all made it through as Holsten qualifiers.

The quartet join Teesside ranking event colleague Ken Dobson and professionals Colin Osborne and Tony Eccles at the Sky Sports-televised tournament.

World No 14 Osborne comes in at the main third round stage as part of the top 32 in the UK Open Order of Merit.

But the rest of the region's hopefuls feature on opening night and, along with having decent draws, are well drilled for the hothouse atmosphere of the Reebok.

Ormesby's Durrant, the Teesside ranking organiser and No 1 who meets Scarborough thrower Graham Usher in the first round, said: "The circumstances in Bolton are quite similar to what we experience on the local circuit.

"There is a low ceiling, lots of people watching you and an electric atmosphere." Durrant, making his second UK Open appearance, added: "We went to qualifying in Batley and blew away the field and it was the best of Yorkshire, the North-east and Scotland there. The extra competitions have helped everyone raise their game." Billingham's Stephens is in the only preliminary match against Ken Mather. The 46-year-old will meet Robbie Parker if he wins.

He said: "I've lost 5-3 to (defending champion) James Wade on stage before after being 3-1 up and I'm hoping to do well this time. I'd be over the moon to reach the last 32. I've never reached that stage before." Left hander Hornby, the 48-year-old who has previous Embassy World Championship and UK Open experience, has a tricky first round test against Londoner

Peter Wright.

He said: "This is the best darts has been on Teesside for a long time and if I play my best I'm hard to beat. …

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