GRAHAM Mullen has been crowned the first ever champion of the Knack Premier League in Seaham – in the presence of a three-time world champion.
Mullen clinched the title with an 8-3 win over Tyne and Wear county star Davey Thompson in the final.
From the first dart to the last, Mullen was the stand-out player and showed no nerves in the final, even though the caller on stage was three-time world champion Martin “Wolfie” Adams.
Mullen hit two 180s and a tremendous 160 checkout in best legs of 14, 15, 18, 19 and 21 darts.
In-form Kevin Guy’s night got off to the worst possible start when just five minutes before the start, the point snapped on one of his darts, forcing him to play with an odd dart.
This visibly knocked him off his stride as he fell 6-3 to Davey Thompson, who won in legs of 16, 18 and two 20-darters, while Kevin’s best leg was in 14 darts.
Top seed Neil Rose came through a nervy game against John Redpath 6-4, both players scoring a 180, plus 16 and 18-darters.
Eddie Ashman was in fine form as he comfortably beat Paul Gillibrand 6-1, with best legs of 14, 16 and two 18-darters his highlights.
Mullen started off his night with a solid 6-2 win against Anth Skelton, winning legs in 15, 16, 17 and 20 darts, while Skelton’s best two legs came in 17 and 19 darts.
The semi-finals came next, as the top four seeds came up against each other with the dream of a final place at stake.
Mullen came up against Ashman and came out on top with another top-drawer performance in a 6-3 win, featuring legs of 14, 16 and three 19-darters.
Thompson was up against his great friend and top seed Rose in the other semi and came out on top 6-4, both players showing each other too much respect as doubles galore were missed.
After sharing the first four legs, Thompson pulled away to lead 4-2 and 5-4 before Rose threatened to take the match to a deciding leg when hitting three 140s in the 10th leg, only to miss doubles which allowed Thompson to take his place in the final.
In the presentation after the final, all 16 players in the league got the chance to test themselves against Adams, with Alan Smith, Skelton, Phil Dunn, Rose and Thompson all coming out on top in the one-leg showdowns, Davey checking out on 156 in a 15-dart leg – prompting Adams to ask why he had never played like that in the final!
Adams finished off by playing four more players from the crowd, including Sunderland’s county star and multiple competition winner Paul Williams and youngster Jack Reveley, but neither could topple the former world champion.
Last eight results: Neil Rose 6 John Redpath 4; Davey Thompson 6 Kevin Guy 3; Eddie Ashman 6 Paul Gillibrand 1; Graham Mullen 6 Anth Skelton 2.
Last four: Neil Rose 4 Davey Thompson 6; Eddie Ashman 3 Graham Mullen 6.
Final: Graham Mullen 8 Davey Thompson 3.