being beaten by the all-conquering Taylor.
Later that year he took part in his first PDC World Championships, overcoming John Part and Beaton again, before being ousted at the quarter-final stage by Kevin Painter.
By now he had the taste for the big stage, and 12 months on he was back for another assault at the competition’s showpiece tournament.
Dudbridge beat Richie Burnett and Part, before overcoming his close friend Dennis Ovens in the quarterfinals. He added: “I turned over these seasoned professionals, including Wayne Mardle in the semi-finals, when I wasn’t really given a chance with the bookies.
“That set me up to face Phil again (in the final). He was in the peak of his powers back then. I remember everyone used to turn up at events and look for what side of the draw they were on. If you weren’t on Taylor’s side, you at least had a hope of reaching the final.
“Sky Sports often replay the 2005 final so I’ve seen it back a few times – I still think I’m going to win. I had a dart to go 3-1 up in sets, but I didn’t take it. At 6-3 down, they started bringing the trophy to the side of the stage and I got quite angry, jabbing my finger and telling him ‘this isn’t over’. I won the next set, but he clinched it 7-4.”
Dudbridge, nicknamed Flash, has a glint in his eye as he recalls a tale from the morning of his one and only World final appearance.
“I had to do some media stuff with Phil for Sky Sports and we were sat alongside each other in the back of a limo, being driven around London by Eric Bristow,” he grins.
“Phil being Phil, he called time on it early saying he needed to go and prepare for the final. I was enjoying myself and said to Phil ‘you ought to enjoy this, it might be your last final!’ Since then he’s taken part in seven, winning five of them, and that one remains the only one I took part in.”
Dudbridge hit headlines locally after reaching the final, with a local radio and written journalists visiting his place of work to interview him doing his ‘day job’ as a bricklayer. But with another £30,000 in prize money burning a hole in his back pocket the Bristolian knew he had a big decision to make.
“I qualified for the Premier League and I decided it was the time to become a professional,” he said.
However, the next part of the story gives an insight into the reason behind why Dudbridge has competed in eight World Championships since without surpassing the third round.
“I knew I needed to do things properly so I joined the local gym,” he said. “I got up at half seven, drove down to the gym and sat in the car park, before thinking ‘sod that’ and headed home again. I never went!
“It’s an individual sport and you probably need someone pushing you. Lots of players have managers these days but I didn’t have anyone.
“I was quite lax on the practice and training side. I could have applied myself better. I could have kept myself fitter, but the injuries didn’t help; I had operations on my elbow and my shoulder and it spiraled from there.
“I could only play for ten or 15 minutes before it started aching. I couldn’t throw my darts straight. I fell down the rankings following the injuries and it’s been a struggle ever since. I was still in the pro tour and I was getting beaten all the time. It
Mark Dudbridge at Bar 501 in Staple Hill