THE long-standing record of five Champion of Champions wins has been equalled.
Simon Stevenson won his fifth title to clinch the 2017 crown, rivaling the record set by Flynn Jones between 1988 and 2003.
Stevenson, who got his hands on the prestigious trophy for the first time in 2002, won it again in 2009, 2012 and 2014 before achieving the landmark on Sunday night at the Hyde Park Social Club in front of an appreciative audience.
His assault on the record, that has stood for 14 years, began with a win against Steve Hiscox in clinical fashion when Stevenson (33.40) emerged a 3-0 winner in 16, 14 and 13.
RECORD BREAKER: Simon Stevenson won the Champion of Champions trophy for the fifth
time, equalling the record set by Flynn Jones back in 2003.
Danny Allen (24.24) made it through to the last four when he won in three straight legs against Lewis Dare before Danny Bull (26.35) earned his semi-final place when ousting last year’s champion Phil Stewart 3-1, with his best leg being won in 15.
Outstanding performances in recent months, both in local leagues and at county level had made Mark Shears (28.00) a lot of people’s favourite and he showed why when defeating Billy Evans 3-1, with legs in 21, 18 and 14 and his first of three maximums.
Stevenson (30.67) was drawn against Allen in the first semi-final and effortlessly, eased into the final by a 3-0 margin with legs in 15, 18 and 16.
Bull won the opening leg of his semi, only for Shears (27.37) to level before clinching a 3-1 victory when taking the next two legs in 16 and 15, aided by his second 180.
The format changed to the best of seven for the final and it was The Mirrorman (27.87) who took the opener, after a nervy start by both finalists.
Shears bounced back to level in 14 and then edged 2-1 in front with an 18-darter.
Despite hitting yet another maximum in the next, Shears did not get any more chances as Stevenson clinically took the next three in 14, 17 and 18 to lift the prestigious Champion of Champions crown for the fifth time.
The race for the ladies’ title had already arrived at the semi-final stage and the first player to make the final was Jodie Hawton (15.63) when she defeated Cornwall’s Tanya Edwards 3-1.
The second semi-final began with Julie Norman (17.26) achieving a win in 20 and although Mel Sharpe took a leg, she was beaten 3-1 with Norman finishing well.
CHAMPION LADY: An accomplished performance from Jodie Hawton helped her to
prevail, in order to claim the ladies' Champion of Champions title.
Hawton (19.26) won the first leg in the best-of-seven encounter and although Norman responded by levelling in a well contested final, Hawton edged in front again when winning the third.
She was again prominent in the fourth which Hawton won in 18 darts when finishing at the first opportunity from 90 and needed just one more leg to emerge a 4-1 winner with another good showing at the business end of the leg.
This competition has raised thousands of pounds over the years for various charities and this year was no different with the recipient being Towards Tomorrow Together.
This is a charity which provides resources to delivery suites of hospitals to ensure bereaved parents are given the chance to make precious memories with their babies in the short time that they have, and parents also get offered ongoing support following their loss.
The founding trustee Mel Scott was very appreciative of this year’s efforts and was presented with a cheque for £4,272.83.
Ladies’ Semi-Final: Jodie Hawton (100x2) bt Tanya Edwards (100x2) 3-1; Julie Norman (100x3) bt Mel Sharpe (140x2) 3-1.
Final: Hawton (100x4) bt Norman (140, 100) 4-1.
Men’s Quarter-Finals: Simon Stevenson (140x4, 100x4) bt Steve Hiscox (100x4) 3-0; Danny Allen (140x2, 100x2) bt Lewis Dare (100x3) 3-0; Danny Bull (140x2, 100x4) bt Phil Stewart (140x2, 100x2) 3-1; Mark Shears (180, 140x2, 100x7) bt Billy Evans (140x4, 100x3) 3-1.
Semi-Finals: Stevenson (140x3, 100x6) bt Allen (100x5) 3-0; Shears (180, 140x3, 100x4) bt Bull (140, 100x6) 3-1.
Final: Stevenson (180, 140x5, 100x8) bt Shears (180, 140x3, 100x6) 4-2.