Emotional Asp takes Matchplay glory

By Jethro Bremner-Allison.

Nathan Aspinall played the game of his life in the biggest match of his life, blitzing Jonny Clayton 18-6 in a jaw dropping display which saw him winning 13 of the last 14 legs.  

After dropping to his knees, he ran off to his family for the biggest of hugs. Ever the sportsman, Jonny Clayton waited to hold his arm aloft as he reappeared on the stage. This was richly deserved and after 3 major finals lost in a row, there was no way he was letting that happen again.  

Speaking on the stage afterwards Nathan said  “The first 2 sessions, I was doing Jonny Clayton things to keep me in the game. I don’t know what it was but from leg 11 I played brilliant. I did it against Chris to be fair, I needed to speed up, I had to get rid of them quicker as that’s where my scoring is.” 

The speeding up clearly worked as he blew Jonny away from the second they returned from the break at 5-5. In leg 11, he got his first maximum and he didn’t look back. It was a scoring and doubling purple patch that only a few players who have ever walked this earth are capable of.  

Ton finishes were plentiful including a sensational big fish in leg 16. Add that to the heavy scoring, it was one way traffic. Jonny didn’t capitulate, he was still averaging in the mid 90s which wasn’t enough to even get a double chance in most legs.  

Wiping his eyes, you could hear the emotion in Nathan’s voice as he talked of the wonderful Blackpool crowd who have supported all the guys across the 9 days. “The atmosphere, the people who come to Blackpool are diehard darts fans, I can’t thank them enough”  

Clayton for his part, completely shellshocked by the defeat spoke in glowing terms about his opponent  “I came out the blocks ok but I can’t argue with that. I was beaten by the much better player. To get to a major final, I’m a proud man. I’d like to thank my family and this lot (the crowd). One day I’ll get back to this stage on finals night and hopefully that’ll be mine.” 

Reflecting on the match Aspinall talked of how he was never 100% confident and reciprocated warm feelings to the amiable Welshman. “Even when I was 15-5 up, darts and pressure can do weird things and that’s in the back of my mind. Jonny is the best guy on the tour. A gentleman, a credit to our sport and I’m just happy I beat you.  


Leg 1: Asp leads us off with a ton. The atmosphere is electric, the fans are serenading Aspinall and he rewards them with a 110 outshot. 20/T18/D18. Sweet. 1-0 

Leg 2: Settles down in the crowd as people are desperate to watch and enjoy this match. Ferret has a look at 78 and takes it out straight away. 1-1 

Leg 3: It’s already speeding along at a great lick, this is going to be great. First miss at double from Asp, but cleans up with D10 and it’s another hold. 2-1 

Leg 4: First 180 of the match for Clayton, takes his a long way in front. Tidies up tops with Asp in the 200’s. 2-2 

Leg 5: Jonny gets a long shot 161 which fails on the bull! Messy from Aspinall as he faffs about but Ferret misses 3 at D16 with his first real chance. Asp gets D18 eventually. With throw. 3-2 


Leg 6: Clayton in control of his legs so far, but this time he misses so Asp comes in for a 108. And nails it! Scored with his first chance in the match. 4-2 

Leg 7: Clayton 25% on doubles at the moment, expect that to rise! First roof raiser, Clayton takes out a 141 with Asp sat on a double! Looks down the lens and gives us our first point. Beautiful. 4-3 

Leg 8: Ferret back in the lipstick with 2x 180’s. I bet there are plenty of punters on Asp to win the 180s but it’s 3-0. 12 darter Jonny sees out the leg, minimum of fuss. 4-4  

Leg 9: Asp 10 points behind in the averages as it stands 91 v 101. Unusual. Regardless of that it’s another 108. T19/19/D16 is great, although the single perilously close to the treble. 5-4  

Leg 10: Jonny’s turn! 101 this time to see off Asp without any drama and evens us up. As close as we hoped and expected. 5-5 


Leg 11: At last! Asp looks to the sky and ironically fist pumps, he’s hit a max in the 11th leg! He’s been prolific this week but not tonight. Not only that, he gets an 11 darter, that’s the high point in the match so far. 6-5 

Leg 12: Asp first to a finish on Ferret’s throw and that’s not been happening. Missed the big number, but he’ll be back. D8, pins it and it’s a break. Will Clayton strike back straight away again? 7-5 

Leg 13: Clayton has a long shot pop at 161 to no avail and Asp steps in to keep the momentum. 8-5 

Leg 14: Asp is in a real purple patch here, Clayton is in big trouble. Scoring in this session is over 120 for Aspinall. 76 for a double break…gets it! 9-5  

Leg 15: Same again, Clayton groping for a longshot to save his bacon and can’t. He’s not able to create chances, this has been a blitz of a session for Aspinall. A whitewash session from nowhere.  


Leg 16: The scoring stats are both 99 now, the 10 points have evaporated. Clayton needs to regroup, 2 breaks behind. Clayton blazes one over the bar for shanghai….Asp for a BIG FISH….GETS IT. Bedlam in the Gardens. 11-5 

Leg 17: Asp acknowledges the crowd who are on their feet for him. Clayton even appreciated that big fish. Asp a mile in front on this leg too, this treble break is looking like a sprint for the line, that’s 7 on the trot. 12-5 

Leg 18: Considering Clayton is taking a trouncing here, he looks remarkably fresh and lands a max of his own. Asp replies immediately though. Tries for 81 on bull and he’s miles off in truth. Asp for 115…he’s only done it again. This is special. 13-5 

Leg 19: It’s like that water slide with the wind they do at the end of I’m a Celeb. Jonny has to get to the end of that run in the face of a tidal wave and a hurricane combined. Instead he’s blown further backwards and slides back to the start. 14-5 

Leg 20: Aspinall must be so chuffed, his best darts in the biggest match of his life. 121 for another 5-0 session…he finally misses one, wires the bull. Clayton misses again, he can’t stop the rot, he’s been traumatised. 15-5 

BREAK: ASPINALL 15 CLAYTON 5 Notes: When Asp said he wasn’t losing another final, it appears he wasn’t lying. Nobody could have stopped this onslaught.  

Leg 21: Everyone is shellshocked, crowd, families, commentators and players. How do you take 11 legs in a row off Jonny Clayton? What have we just watched? 16-5  

Leg 22: He’s done it! Double 5 and a broad grin passes Jonny’s lips. The comeback is on! 16-6 

Leg 23: Aspinall starts with a 180 just in case you thought he would have been stunned by the leg concession. He misses a dart at double but Clayton is on 163. Asp nails tops and he’s nearly there. 17-6  

Leg 24: Clayton kicks off with a 60, could Asp win it right here and now? Clayton misses 2 at tops, his mind is scrambled. Asp misses the first, closer with the second and on the wire with the 3rd. Match darts gone! Clayton misses another 3, this is comical. Asp gets D5 on his 6th match dart. He drops to his knees then runs off to see his family. Incredible, emotional scenes. 18-6.