Saturday at Roses: Women’s Darts

Emilia Cooper covers Women's Darts at Roses

(Image: Kaitlyn Beattie-Zarb)

The energy was electric in Lancaster’s Great Hall for the Women’s 1st Darts at Roses 2024. Curious spectators and eager fans of both sides made the journey from the main Sports Centre to cheer on their universities in these thrilling duels between the Red and White Roses. Lancaster started the evening with two big wins, no doubt with thanks to the sea of red supporters. 

The White Rose’s first win came from Hannah Green against Chrissie Smith. Each player was welcomed to the stage with a high-energy walk-out song and encouraging crowds. Accurate throws and some big points early on saw York pull ahead, continuing to create a comfortable lead over Lancaster to take the first leg. This was a dominant performance from York, but both players created impressive chances in what was a much closer second leg. Lancaster looked to have found an opportunity to take the lead after a low-scoring throw from York, but the Whites took the challenge in their stride and gained the first point of the evening.

A lively game between Phoebe Fletcher and Lucy Evans was next. Lancaster were quick out of the gate with this, pinning down the first leg in what seemed to be a matter of minutes. York then pulled ahead, scoring a big 58, but Lancaster soon showed what they were made of, throwing 81. It was tense as no-scores were thrown from Lancaster, but spectators young and old cheered on this dominant player to the third Lancaster win.

The spirits were kept high by York’s Lucy Tanner and Lancaster’s Sophie Thomas. Despite a slow start from York and a massive 98 from Lancaster early on, the pressure in this game was present throughout its entirety. Scores ranged from across the board, but it was ultimately Lancaster who took the pressure in their stride, making it 4-1 overall.

The undeniably biggest battle came from both side’s captains, Sophie Coombs for the White Rose, and Abbi Sergeant for the Red Rose. These incredibly well-matched players built on the chanting and cheers as York took an early lead, having scored 60 towards the start of the leg. Lancaster were not too far behind, though, as a massive 100 was thrown to pull them ahead and take them to their fifth victory of the evening.

York Fresher Becky Aldred was next to face Fourth Year Kinga Kupi – a true testament to the talent of York and Lancaster players across all ages. Both settled into a good rhythm with higher scoring throws of 52 from the Red and 69 from the White as Lancaster yet again found themselves taking the lead in this singles match. Low scores from Lancaster gave a glimmer of hope to the York player, and a huge credit to her for this impressive performance in her first Roses. But experience proved favourable for Lancaster as they took a comfortable win to expand the overall gap between the Roses.

Next saw two Rosies take the stage at Roses! Lancaster’s Rosie Ball kept a high chase for York’s Rosie Wanstall, as the Reds took a nice lead with a smooth 100 very early into play. The energy in the hall was certainly in favour of Lancaster, making York’s job much harder, but both players soaked up the energy with a series of lovely throws from both. A big opening 77 at the start of the second leg for York suggested another point for York. However, Lancaster’s player produced a stunning 125 to entice big cheers from the Lancaster supporters as they flew ahead to 7-1 over York.

The intensity remained unparalleled right until the final match between Lancaster captain Fay Humphreys and York’s Ellie Curry. Lancaster came out the gates charging with 58, 85, and 86 on the board in quick succession, but York was hot on the chase with a great 76 and 64 to bring it down to 10 required from the Reds and 12 required from the Whites. Tension filled the room as scores slowly crept down. York needed to hit a double 3 and Lancaster needed to hit a double 1 – both teams found themselves in ‘double trouble’. Groans from the crowd spilled as Lancaster threw so close, yet it was York who found the target with a graceful throw! Game on. Again, Lancaster took the lead with some big scores, but York gained momentum having dropped 69 points with a great throw. This was another intense final few throws as Lancaster took this game. It was square – game on. Lancaster’s crowd proved to be the second player in these single games as they supported their captain right until the end as she flew to requiring 16 points to York’s 143. York persevered until the last throw, but ultimately this tie was broken by the Reds, making the total wins 8-1 to the hosts. 

Overall, the atmosphere in the Great Hall was electric. Whilst it was a predominantly Red crowd, the away fans showed up for their players and kept encouraging them through this battle. Congratulations to all players for an excellent show of skill and sportsmanship.

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