Mervyn just fails in title bid

TO those who know darts; to those who love it, eat it, sleep it, breathe it – to those like Mervyn King, this title would simply have been the greatest of dreams come true.

TO those who know darts; to those who love it, eat it, sleep it, breathe it – to those like Mervyn King, this title would simply have been the greatest of dreams come true. Ipswich's latest darts master found himself on centre stage yesterday as he made his bid for the glorious pinnacle of his chosen sport – the Embassy World Championship. DEBBIE WATSON soaked up the atmosphere of the event.

STEPPING swiftly out into the harsh stage light, welcomed by the sounds of rapturous applause, Mervyn King had arguably "come home to win".

In the eyes of his many steadfast supporters before him, this man was already a certified British legend of the Lakeside Country Club.

He deserved to take this title, he deserved to grasp the glory, and to return to Ipswich a genuine, unrivaled, darts hero.

As any bona fide darts pundit knows only too well, this event is the ultimate.

It is the one gilt-edged aspiration which all professionals – without exception – silently hold dear to their hearts.

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And so, given such expectation and intention, it was truly little wonder that, long before the television cameras were even set to roll, that packed 'darts home' Country Club was bursting with electric energy.

Banner after banner waved furiously within the crowd, and voices cheered in enthusiastic hope – it was time, in time-honoured tradition of this sporting game, to echo the call of "Let's Play Darts".

Branded as the 'Ashes Clash' in the light of this Australia-England play-off, this

championship was always about a dream.

Both King, and his rival, Tony David, spoke long and hard of their desire for this acclaim. And as Ipswich's favoured hero pulled back his arm for the very first throw of the match – that will-to-win was unmistakable.

Out of nowhere, the crowd's cheers had descended into silence. A pin could have been heard dropping in the early moments of anticipation – this competitive spirit was second to none.

Breathtaking to hear, and so painful to watch, fans scrutinised the robotic moves of these two players with as much conviction as if the fans themselves were aspiring for a title.

And it was within that eager crowd, among those who cheered between players' throws, and who drank and smoked just yards from the scene of true contention – it was out there that Ipswich's man was already a hero.

King's entourage – his dedicated family and girlfriend Marie Steggles from Suffolk – sat fixated at table 41.

Mum Marion was certain that her son could steal this victory. She could barely breath nor blink for fear of missing a single throw of this amazing opportunity now in the hands of her boy.

"I am very nervous but looking forward to the final," she said before the start. "I want Mervyn to win and really do think that he can do it."

In agonising sets, her popular sporting son delivered a performance so tense, so professional, that it was hard not to feel every single pang of defeat and glory with him. It was hard to keep looking; hard to keep breathing.

But, just two clear hours from the event's rapturous start – the darting dream was lost from King's grasp.

Despite efforts so valiant and so undeniably worthy, Mervyn King watched his chance ebb so defiantly away. His contender, Tony David, was the taker of this crown.

His dad Mick, said: "I am gutted. Mervyn didn't do himself justice to start but did really well to come back into the game. He was so far behind but he almost pulled it back."

It is not the ending that Mervyn had dreamed of, nor the one which Table 41, nor so many members of the auditorium had hoped for – but still, even in the face of defeat, Ipswich's hopeful returns a triumphant King.

He is, undoubtedly, a darting champion without dispute.