A huge stream of people piling into a Stornoway venue. Check.
Almost £4,000 in the prize pot, players clutching their flights and darts next to their hearts like a precious gem? Check, check.
It can mean only one thing, the annual Western Isles Darts Festival.
Taking place this year in Stornoway Golf Club where a superb six days of arrows action filled the lives of a huge number of players, both male and female, as they jostled at the oche in a bid to win the cash, the silverware and the bragging rights against their arrows’ foes and pals.
As always the opening two days of the week were for locally based players to warm up and get their darts elbows greased up and in tip-top shape.
The Area Cup was the first chunk of silver won and it went to the Lochs A team who beat Tong in the final. The winners were Finlay Maciver, Jim O Donnell and Jamie Reid.
The Early bird singles saw an excellent entry of 30 with Andy Dowie, a three time festival champion in the past, cap his recent return to the island with another win.
Dowie’s welcome return to home soil can only mean great things for the Western Isles Darts Festival – after all the idea for the fest was brewed in his own mind.
On Tuesday eight teams of four men clashed while the under 25s event was also hosted.
The team gong went to Alex ‘Momby ‘ Morrison, Jamie Reid, Jim O Donnell and Finlay Maciver. Alex also took the under 25s beating Murdo Macleod in the final.
The pace continued at breakneck levels on Wednesday with the Sea Angling Club flinging open her doors for the Island Masters.
12 of the islands top players crossed arrows in this one with Alex Morrison securing a hat-trick of successive Masters as he edged Murdo Alex in an entertaining final.
The ferry on Thursday brought with her the stream of top mainland players who were each eager to get into the action with all eyes on the Allan Dowie Memorial Singles and the Over 40’s event!.
Again it was the local boys who dominated with a repeat of the previous night’s final with Alex winning the Allan Dowie Singles beating Murdo Alex in another great final.
Alex was in great form all night and proved why he is now one of the top players in the Highland County team and one of the best players in the North of Scotland.
Alex Fraser of Inverness won the Over 40’s event beating local player Kenny ‘‘Wang’’ Macleod in the final.
Frantic Friday saw the Blind Draw doubles, Open threes and the Open Doubles. With over 50 teams taking part this was going to be long night but one with plenty of great matches to see.
The local team of Andy Dowie, Kenny Macleod and Murdo Macleod did very well to reach the Open three’s final but lost out to a strong mainland three in Stevie Mitchell, Nicky Dennon and Dereck Maclean.
Father and Son duo Andy Dowie and Murdo Macleod were in great form all night and carried on their form to reach the final of the Open doubles where they came nose to nose with former Scottish Doubles champions Stevie Mitchell and Dereck Maclean.
This was a great final with Andy and Murdo having chances to win every leg but just missed out losing 7-4.
The final day of the darts brought out even greater numbers of players all dusting off their darts for a chance to throw in the big event and take home the mighty £850 prize.
Eighty players lined up at the oche on Saturday and in the final four there were two local players in the running. Alex Morrison who was in terrific form all week played returning champion Barry Maclean with the latter having a little too much on the night as he booked another final.
The surprise player of the day was Allan Morrison who to many was a complete unknown, expect those who played darts going back a few years.
Allan started of the day beating Andy and in his semi-final match up he faced former Scottish Internationalist Steve Mitchell. Again the experienced visitor had too much in the end and he squeezed past Morrison.
Everyone involved was delighted for Allan and he proved no matter how long you have been away from competitions you can still mix it with the best on Island. Hopefully won’t be to long before we see Allan on the oche again.
Onto the final and this was going to be a real battle with Barry storming into a 6-2 lead.
Stevie pulled it back to 6-5 but Barry had the advantage of the throw and went on to win 9-7 in retain his title and win the Open Champion for the fourth time.
All involved with the Western Isles Darts Festival would like to thank everyone who worked tirelessly behind the scenes throughout the week, setting up boards, running the tournaments and ensuring it all went so smoothly.
Also thanks are due to Autoparts as the main sponsor and for everyone who sponsored a board.
A special thanks too for the Stornoway Golf Club for letting the Festival have the run of the venue for the week. All the staff at the Golf Club kept all players fed, watered and smiling.
The work for 2018 starts here with next year’s first prize already going up to £1,000.