Robert Thornton became the first-ever World Seniors Darts champion courtesy of a dominant 5-1 victory over three-time world champion Martin Adams at the Circus Tavern on Sunday night.
‘The Thorn’ came through a star-studded 24-player field to scoop the £30,000 top prize, boasting a tournament average of 91.08, firing in 31 maximums and relinquishing just three sets in the process.
The four-day event provided a thrilling trip down memory lane, as a series of darts’ biggest names made their return to competitive action, including 16-time world champion Phil Taylor.
‘The Power’ was one of 11 world champions to feature in the inaugural staging, alongside the likes of Adams, John Part, John Lowe MBE, and three-time World Master Bob Anderson.
It was the first World Darts Championship held at the Circus Tavern since Raymond van Barneveld prevailed in a sudden-death epic against Taylor in 2007 – dubbed by many as the greatest game of all time – and the wonderful atmosphere generated this weekend contributed to a magnificent event.
There were so many memorable moments to savour across the tournament, but I’ve picked out some of the highlights, as we begin the countdown to the inaugural World Seniors Masters in May…
Bob Anderson’s 180 & iconic celebration
The legendary ‘Limestone Cowboy’ opened up proceedings against eventual champion Thornton, in his first televised appearance since competing in the 2009 League of Legends.
The 1988 world champion – the first man to claim three successive World Masters titles – served a reminder of his enduring class with a 116 checkout in the opening set, only to save his best until last.
In what proved to be his final visit of the contest, the 74-year-old raised the roof with a brilliant 180 and his iconic celebration, in an unforgettable moment of darting nostalgia. You’ve still got it, Bob!
Prolific Painter reels in the Big Fish!
Kevin Painter was one of the stars of the World Seniors Championship. ‘The Artist’ posted the highest average of the tournament (95.26) in his second-round demolition of 2020 BDO world champion Wayne Warren, before whitewashing 16-time world champion Taylor in the last eight.
That victory curtailed Painter’s 31-match losing run against the Stoke-on-Trent legend, and he produced further heroics in his semi-final clash against Thornton, conjuring up a spectacular 170 checkout.
It wasn’t enough to inspire him to victory over the supreme Scot, although the former Players Champion reaffirmed his credentials throughout the weekend, and it was refreshing to see that trademark swagger gracing the big stage once again.
The return of John Lowe
John Lowe MBE was the elder statesman of this year’s event at the age of 76, and ‘Old Stoneface’ received an incredible reception as he made his Circus Tavern return after a 17-year hiatus.
The three-time world champion was beaten in straight sets by an impressive Dave Prins in his last-16 tussle, but his effortless throw remains as silky smooth as ever, and he came agonisingly close to producing a stunning double-double finish in set three.
However, the contest will be remembered more for Lowe’s nostalgic walk-on and his emotional post-match address to the crowd. The hush that descended across the venue as he paid tribute to the darting public and his opponent will live long in the memory.
Martin Adams’ remarkable big finishing
Martin Adams is like a fine wine – he just gets better with age! The three-time BDO world champion rolled back the years to reach Sunday’s showpiece against Thornton, defeating Richie Howson, Larry Butler and Terry Jenkins en route.
The 65-year-old has flourished in the Online Darts Live League over the last 18 months, and he rolled back the years with an astonishing display of big finishing in his opener against Howson.
‘Wolfie’ converted five ton-plus checkouts to seal a deciding-set victory over the spirited qualifier, following up finishes of 156, 136, 150 and 157 with a match-clinching 153. What a performance!
Imperious Thornton makes history
If anybody questions the difficulty of coming through Qualifying School – just point to Robert Thornton. ‘The Thorn’ was unable to claim a coveted PDC Tour Card in January, but he underlined his class with a series of sparkling displays this weekend.
The two-time PDC major winner stormed through to the semi-finals with a trio of whitewash wins, and while Kevin Painter provided a tougher test, ‘The Thorn’ always appeared in control, before he demolished Adams in merciless fashion to etch his name into the history books.
The 54-year-old posted an astonishing opening set average of 118.66 against ‘Wolfie’, illustrating that he still possesses the quality to compete with the sport’s elite, but having added another televised title to his illustrious haul, could he dominate the World Seniors circuit over the coming months?
John Gwynne’s return to the commentary box
The World Seniors Championship gave fans the opportunity to celebrate the icons of the sport, therefore it was fitting that John Gwynne made his return to the commentary box on Finals Day.
Gwynne formed part of darts’ holy trinity with Sid Waddell and Dave Lanning, and the trio’s telepathic partnership behind the mic played an instrumental role in the sport’s soaring popularity from the mid 1990’s onwards.
The 76-year-old has been absent from the commentary box since being diagnosed with cancer in November 2020, but it was an absolute joy to hear Gwynney’s dulcet tones once more, and we all wish John the very best in his ongoing battle.
Image Credits: Chris Sargeant/Tip Top Pics