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Darts festival is renamed in tribute to Inverness legend as it begins next week

By Will Clark

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Jim MacNeil. Picture: Gary Anthony.
Jim MacNeil. Picture: Gary Anthony.

AN Inverness darts festival has been renamed in tribute to a man who was described as the most influential figure to the sport in the Highlands.

The Jim MacNeil Festival of Darts is set to take place over four days next week at the Innes Bar in Merkinch.

Previously known as the Innes Bar Darts Festival, it has been renamed after Jim MacNeil who died suddenly last year.

A renowned darts player in his own right, MacNeil helped promote the sport and organise competitions in Inverness and throughout the country.

Before he passed away, he was secretary of the Inverness Winter Darts League and during his career was also a director at the Scottish Darts Association.

He was also the darts correspondent for the Inverness Courier and the Highland News.

Festival organiser Calum Macaskill says the darts community in Inverness wanted to honour MacNeil’s memory, given how important he was for the sport in the region.

Macaskill said: “We have decided to rename the festival after Jim MacNeil given how important he was to the sport here.

“He helped to launch the Innes Festival of Darts when it moved to the Innes Bar from the old Portland club.

“We wanted to honour the man for all he did for darts and we felt the best way was to rename the festival after him.

“We are expecting people to travel from as far as the Western Isles, along with from Thurso and Wick to take part in the event.”

“He is missed by so many people in the darts community and he was so important to the darts scene here.

“He had so much knowledge about darts it was unreal and instigated so many competitions being organised.

“He loved this festival and we are determined to keep it going in his memory for as long as we can.”

MacNeil achieved a lot of success during his career, with it estimated that he won over 1000 trophies.

One of his early achievements was that he qualified at the Scottish finals of the NDAGB Individuals members championships in 1978 and in 1979, becoming the first Northern Highland player to reach the finals in the competition in Birmingham.

As a long time player and organiser of Highland county darts, his record spoke for itself. He played his first game on November 4 1978 against Tayside in the Royal British Legion in Dingwall. Going on to represent his county a record of 264 times he played his last game against Fife in March 2020.

The festival will be held over four days, starting with The Dewar Doubles on Thursday night. The Norland Distributors Out of the Hat Triples takes place on Friday, with the Norbord Merkinch Singles taking place on Saturday.

The final event on Sunday will be the Jim MacNeil Memorial Two Person Team Event, which has also been renamed after MacNeil.

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