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Sheppey Classic arrives at Merlins Complex in Leysdown this weekend


This weekend’s 7th Sheppey Darts Classic has been hit by the current economic situation, with entries well down on last year.

The championship takes place at Merlins Complex at Leysdown on Saturday and Sunday, and organiser Tony Cox said: "So far we have got 130 entries for the men’s singles, which is 60 down on last year, and the entries for the ladies’ singles and youth competition are also disappointing, so we have extended the closing date by a couple of days.

"The problem is that people just can’t afford to have weekends away at the moment playing darts, and we have also been hit by a drop in sponsorship support. Two people who provided £500 each last year have both pulled out this year, while another person who backed us with £2,000 has had to cut his sponsorship this year to £1,000."

Despite that, the winner of this year’s men’s singles will again receive £2,000 and Cox added: "We are still the biggest darts event in the south of England, and we are hoping that things will pick up again next year as the economy recovers."

Last year’s men’s champion, Steve Maish from Essex, is returning to defend his men’s title, but Cox predicts he will face stiff opposition this year from three Sheppey players: Geoff Harkup, Paul McDine and Steve Sidders.

He added: "A twice former champion, Andy Belton from Suffolk, is unable to play here this year because he is recovering from a brain tumour operation and we would like to send our best wishes for a speedy recovery."

In the ladies’ singles, defending champion Norma Self could be pushed hard by fellow Sussex player Sally Dowell.

For more details on the Sheppey Darts Classic, ring Tony Cox on 07747 676676 or see the website link at: www.sheppeydarts.com

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