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   Thursday, 9 January, 2003, 09:06 GMT
Darts duel thrills Lakeside
Colin Monk thrilled a capacity crowd at the Lakeside
Monk is in the winning habit at the Lakeside


Sport has a habit of serving up classic duels - there was Ali v Frazier, Borg v McEnroe.

And then there was Monk v O'Shea.

Colin Monk and Tony O'Shea served up possibly the greatest game ever seen in 26 years of the Embassy World Darts Championship at the Lakeside Country Club, Frimley Green in Surrey.

In a best-of-five set match, where it's the first to three legs who claims a set, the game can be over in just nine legs.

But these top tungsten throwers were toe-to-toe at the oche for a nerve-sapping 25 legs before shaven-headed Monk nailed a double 16 to clinch a thrilling tie-breaker.

This match was going to be a classic from the moment Monk emerged to the strains of 'Hey, Hey, We're the Monkees.'

The pair have a bit of 'previous', Colin seeing off Tony in a memorable first-round tussle 12 months earlier.

And no sooner had larger-than-life MC Martin Fitzmaurice bellowed the immortal welcome 'Let's Play Darts', it was game on.

He's a battler - he's never beaten

O'Shea on Monk

Legs and sets were exchanged regularly as the pair scrapped for a place in the last eight.

And then it was into the crucial fifth set, where the tension and the crowd rose as the drama unfolded.

O'Shea, a golf club greenkeeper from Stockport, has managed a hole-in-one in his spare time, and appeared to hold all the aces.

The famous Lakeside stage
Centre stage: The Lakeside saw great drama

Basingstoke builder Monk looked to have hit the wall more than once, but he wasn't about to throw in the trowel, I mean towel.

He summoned all his reserves of energy as the match moved to the 11th, and final possible leg.

Lakeside gave a collective gasp as the dynamic duo took shots at the bullseye to determine who had the honour of throwing first.

The pair managed edgy smiles as they repeatedly skirted the bull, but hit 25 instead, before Monk finally nailed the shot that set him on the path to victory.

With the raucous capacity crowd saluting every big score, he closed in on the win and a hush descended as Monk eyed the double 16.

Then a huge rush of noise as he hit the mark - and ended the contest.

Ted 'The Count' Hankey, a second round casualty at the Lakeside, was lapping up the action at the bar.

Even Hankey, the Caped Crusader who trades on his Dracula image by throwing plastic bats to fans, looked in awe.

Fangs ain't what they used to be, you could almost hear him say.

From the pressure side it was good, but enjoyable it wasn't

Shattered Monk's verdict

It just couldn't get any better than this, could it?

As the platitudes and cheers simmered, out came darts legend Bobby George in his own glittering cape and trademark candelabra.

BBC TV's darts presenter Ray Stubbs joined him on stage and saluted the 'best crowd in sport'.

And who could argue with him? After Monky's magic, Now I'm A Believer!

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
 Championship contender Colin Monk
"You've just got to hope it's your day"
Embassy World Darts Championship

Barneveld's title

Photo galleries

Bobby's Kingdom

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Links to more World Darts Championship 2003 stories are at the foot of the page.


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