Column #178 Let’s Turn Back the Clock — for Charity

March 1, 2005
Column 178
Let’s Turn Back the Clock — for Charity

Aside from the expected (my not winning a single leg in four qualifying rounds) last year at the Professional Darts Corporation’s (PDC) Las Vegas Desert Classic, my greatest disappointment was the unexpected last-minute disqualification of Lubbock, Texas’s Ricky Villanueva. As Dick Allix put it recently, Villanueva “ran afoul of the rules.” While I continue to maintain that the reality was the other way around, that the rules ran afoul of Villanueva, the past is the past. It’s time to think about tomorrow.

Still, I can’t help wondering what might have happened had Villanueva, largely unknown in the United States but literally a legend in the Philippines — TWELVE TIMES national champion and arguably the best shooter since the late Freddie Deen to ever hail from the archipelago — been allowed the opportunity to show his form on stage in the first round draw against Bolton’s Steve Coote.

To his credit, the twenty-five-year-old Bolton, 1999 German Open champion and two-time qualifier for the Embassy World Championships, was impressive in Vegas. He fought his way through the tough qualifying rounds, something Villanueva didn’t have to do (having earned his place on stage by racking up points against less-stiff competition on the American circuit) and held up well under the lights, knocking off Andy Jenkins before going down to the high-powered darts of Phil Taylor.

But still, again, I can’t help wondering what might have happened had Villanueva and Coote faced off. There’s no doubt that the match would have been a crowd-pleaser and, had Villanueva emerged the winner, I believe he would have stunned millions of television viewers across America and the United Kingdom. Both players wanted to get it on.

Perhaps they still can…

For several years running, Las Vegas’ Stacy Bromberg staged a charity shoot to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation on one of the free evenings during the North American Open. For the past three years, she has run the shoot after hours during the Desert Classic. Hundreds of darters have participated and tens of thousands of dollars have been raised to help brings smiles to the faces of terminally ill children.

Typically, the event is held at Bromberg’s home pub, CD’s Lounge, and features a best of eleven legs doubles exhibition. Bromberg teams with her usual tournament doubles partner, Paul Lim, to play whomever the current world champion is, who pairs with the event’s leading benefactor, Joe McElligott. Although the details for this year’s charity shoot are still being finalized, in the past both Phil Taylor and John Part have stood up for the kids. Russ Bray has called the event. Once, it is rumored, Tommy Cox even danced on a table while people stuffed dollar bills in his shorts.

There are also door prizes and a huge luck of the draw. And all of the money goes to help kids.

So here’s the deal — the opportunity to turn back the hands of time and do a good thing…

This year that charity event is tentatively scheduled for the evening of Tuesday, June 28, following the third and fourth qualifying rounds. The format will be basically the same. The only difference, should the proposal that follows be accepted, is that the usual doubles event (though it will still take place) will not be the headliner.

Instead, the featured exhibition on June 28 will be the match that never was, the match that everybody should have had a chance to see: a showdown between the former and multi-time Philippine National Champion who is now burning up the sisal across America, and the up-and-coming young sensation from England, Ricky Villanueva and Steve Coote.

Who wins doesn’t matter.

What matters is that people show up. Those who do will have a chance to throw the Luck of the Draw, maybe win a prize, watch the world champion, and witness the form of two potential future world champions.

What matters is that people have fun.

What matters is that darters support the sort of charity event that the sport of darts is famous for.

From this side of the pond all is set. The format is undecided but wide open to the wishes of the competitors. Best of five sets. Best of seven sets.

Provided the event is for fun and charity, as it always has been and always will be, Villanueva has already agreed to appear.

All that remains is a positive nod from Steve Coote.

So Steve, by his column, I am respectfully requesting your participation at CD’s Lounge on Tuesday, June 28. It’s for fun. It’s for the kids.

And, please, if you accept, and I hope you do, bring Tommy Cox with you. I have a wallet full of dollar bills ready to stuff in his shorts.

Let’s turn back the clock for charity. Let’s have a great night of darts.

From the Field,

Dartoid

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Dartoid
Author of the column that since 1995 has been featured by Bull’s Eye News, the American Darts Organization’s (ADO) Double Eagle and numerous other darts publications and websites around the globe.

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