Nine years ago, Alex Mackay and Andy Dowie decided to have a Western Isles Darts Festival in Stornoway’s Sea Angling Club hoping to get mainland players to come to the Island and to help improve the local darts scene.
Now nine years later the curtain is about to be raised on the ninth Western Isles Darts Festival starting on Monday 28th January until Saturday 2nd February and it’s set to be the biggest event yet.
So if you throw a dart, get down to enter or just come down to watch some fantastic darts. The schedule is:
Monday January 28th
The Early Bird Singles which is a competition on a short format, great for getting in some practice and with a first prize of £150 and only £5 to enter.
Andy Dowie has won it the last three years while other winners have been Alex Keiller, Willie Lockerby and Jamie Reid, 7pm start.
Tuesday January 29th
This has the top 12 Island players playing off against each other.
In the first year it was the best competition with all 12 players in top form.
Last year’s winner was Andy Dowie who has won it three times, David Macmillan has also won it three times and other winners have been Alex Keiller, while in 2009 Kenny Macleod got a call half an hour before the start to come as a replacement and did very well to win the title.
The players this year are the young lads Finlay, Jamie, Alex Morrison, not so young Willie Reid, Compo, Andy Dowie, Norrie, Ian Leitch, Alex Keiller, Calum Ruddy, David Macmillan and Murdo Alex.
Wednesday January 30th
Sees the Under 25 Singles competition get underway.
Jamie Reid won this competition last year for his fourth time, other winners have been Don Macleod, Murdo Macleod and Craig Maclean.
There is also a Four Man Team event with entry fee £10 and first prize £100, a good one to get you’re mates - get out of the house for a game - all 7pm start.
Thursday January 31st
It all starts at 6.30pm with an Over 40’s Singles, last year’s winner was Nigel Golding from Alness, while Joe Batta (Edinburgh) and Hughie Maconnel (twice) and Rory and David Campbell have won also.
Then at 7.30pm the Allan Dowie Memorial Singles takes place and it’s always good to see players from Allan’s era come down and play.
It was won by Bryan Whyte from Fort William last year, while Andy Dowie has won it four times, with David Macmillan and Rory Ferguson winning it three times.
Friday February 1st
This is called Frantic Friday, why? Well there’s three competitions on the same day and it all starts off with a Blind Draw Doubles at 3pm where all names get put into hat and get drawn out with different partners.
At only £5 to enter it’s a good way for everyone to get to know each other.
Then at 5pm it’s the Open Threes which is £21 to enter, the same team has never won it twice.
Then it’s onto the Open Doubles which Steve Falconer and Euan Callender won last year, it has also never been won twice by the same team, but Euan and Steve have won with different partners, it’s also £20 to enter.
Saturday February 2nd
This starts at 11.30am with the Mixed Doubles which is a short format then at 12.30pm it’s the main event the Open Singles which you have to enter by the Friday night.
The winner for the first three years of this competition was UK Open Champion Robert Thornton, but in the last five years Island players have made the final.
Barry Maclean (Nairn) and Alan Finlay have won it while the last three years have been won by local player Andy Dowie, who beat Barry in 2010 and 2012 and Steve Mitchell (Alness) in 2011.
This year has more players than ever making their way up and with cracking drink promos and food on offer the Sea Angling will be the place to be, make sure you give the locals your support and watch some cracking games.
See you at the Oche!