Column #HR26 The Greatest Match Ever Played?

Saturday, October 9, 2010
Column HR26
The Greatest Match Ever Played?

Opinions today have become like ears, “Everybody has at least two.” If he were alive today that would of course exclude old Vincent van Gough. Vinnie had this plan to win the hand (and probably a couple of other parts) of his dearly beloved. “If you don’t say you love me I’ll cut off my ear.” As the lady in question was pondering her answer – women do ponder – Vinnie became impatient. He lopped off his ear right before she said “Vincent van Gough I love you.” He saw her lips moving but could only reply “I can’t hear you; I don’t have an ear” as he held the bloodied ear above his head like a Matador on a Sunday afternoon.

Most of those with opinions start every pronouncement with “I think” which is a clue that they are probably incapable of same. That leads to the general policy of rejecting anyone, unless that anyone is Charles Krauthammer, who starts a sentence with either “I think” or “in my opinion.” The Old Dart Coach got the following email. “I just watched the greatest dart match I have ever seen… bar none! Phil Taylor beat Gary Anderson 4 sets to 3 (2 outta 3 each set) after lagging behind the whole match to do it… they had 16 180’s between them (some back-to-back) and something like 8 160-ons (they were playing 501 double on)… Gary had 3 of them in a row… doubling on is very unusual in pro darts today)… absolutely the finest ever!” The author of the email was Bill Specht. Okay, what kind of “tungsten cred” does Specht have?

Rumor has it that Specht, who resides in Southern California, was there to meet the Mayflower when it landed at Plymouth Rock which was actually named after a chicken. He, Specht not the chicken, immediately formed a three person dart team along with guys named Alden and Smith. They were called “Three Guy’s Dart Team” and traveled with a Indian chick named Pocahontas who was the first dart groupie. The story goes that like old Vinnie van Gough Smith had desires upon Pocahontas. Not in the ear cutting mood Smith asked his friend Alden to ask for her hand (and one would assume other parts as well). Specht was there with a knowing smile. He’s got “T-Cred.”

THE GREATEST MATCH EVER

Sure, why not? Some would vote the 1979 World Cup finals between Nicky Virachkul and Ceri Morgan in Las Vegas. Virachkul would win in a nail biter. The ODC is holding out for his April 120-out while playing for his favorite hotel in Pattaya Beach, Thailand. His singles win won the match bringing kudos from International Great the Lord of Pattaya, Mr. Stefan Lord. With those caveats in place Bill Specht is right that the greatest match ever occurred in the quarter finals of the 2010 World Grand Prix in Dublin Ireland.

There were though three other matches that had taken place before a crowd estimated at 3,500 of which 3,499 were well lubricated. Setting the table for the “Greatest” were three routs that might have been the reason that 3,499 people were well lubricated. Adrian Lewis, Raymond van Barneveld and James Wade all scooted into the semi final with 4-1 wins. Wade created a little drama when he lost the first set 3-0 but as usual then took charge. After these three matches the ODC started an argument with himself, he does a lot of muttering lately, that going to 7 sets was stupid. “If you can’t get’em done in 5 you can’t get’em done.” Or words to that effect.

That same mind set prevailed through the first four sets of Anderson-Taylor. The sets would break 2-2 with Anderson playing like a man on a mission, which he was. In the 19 legs that were played Anderson and Taylor failed to start with the first three darts only twice. Taylor took the first set 3-2 with starts of 40, 120 and 170. He won the final leg T60, 86, T80 to leave 65 which he erased with triple 11 and double 16. It would have been easy for the coffee addict – Anderson drink 30 cups a day – to give up the ship.

He didn’t, taking the next set 3-1 behind starts of 80, T60 and T60. The third set also fell to Anderson (3-2) with starts of T60, 96 and 115. Taylor would level with a 3-2 set. How tough was this set? Taylor started one leg with T57, T40 to leave 204 after 6 and never got an out shot when Anderson went 95, T80, T80. During the first four sets the drunken crowd booed with gusto whenever Taylor stepped to the line and cheered each time he missed a dart. Match referee Bruce’s requests to “shut your pie holes” fell on deaf years. Maybe they were all descendents of van Gough. Taylor answered the crowd by smiling at them with each win. Living proof that some of us may have descended from apes while other’s still have a few more miles to travel.

Following yet another “advert break” Gary Anderson would move just one set away from a major upset when he annexed the 5 set 3-2. The 4th leg of that set could have been historic as Taylor started 160, 180 then triple 20 followed by triple 18 needing the bull for the first ever televised 9-darter double start. Not to be as he collected the ace. He still garnered an 11–darter which as the ODC says “Is not to Chablis.” The set might have gone to Taylor who started the decider with 160 but Anderson hit double top while Taylor waited on the same finish. Deadly all evening Anderson used double tops like Bernie Madoff used other people’s money.

Like Madoff with other people’s money Gary Anderson’s ownership of double top went astray. Taylor jumped on it like Paris Hilton on someone else’s purse or a female Kardashian on a professional athletic. Taylor cruised to a 3-0 win to level the match at 3. The match set could well have turned in the opening leg when Taylor missed bull for a win allowing Anderson three for double tops. He missed tops and double 10. Anderson had scouted double 10 so Taylor hit it for the first leg. Taylor then used three darts to erase 32 for a 2-0 lead. Buoyed by being one leg away from a great comeback win Taylor started 120 and then added 180 and 177 to leave 24. Then up jumped the devil.

Taylor would miss with three allowing Anderson one dart at double tops. He would also miss. The greatest match in history came to an end when Taylor hit double 6. The two played 30 legs of double start 501. Taylor would win 17 and Anderson 13. In those 30 legs the pair would account for 83 scores of more than 100 which includes 36 Ton 40+ and 16 Ton80’s

“I managed to get in front of Phil but in the last two sets I was gone,” admitted Anderson. “I lost it on double top and couldn’t get in, and you can’t give Phil a chance because he will crucify you.” “It was a great game to be involved in,” said Taylor. “Gary was brilliant and hit some fantastic shots, and he pushed me all the way,” which was fact.

It’s also a fact that maybe Bill Specht didn’t meet the Mayflower, didn’t get it on with Pocahontas and only slightly knew Alden and Smith. There also wasn’t a potato famine in Ireland. What happened was that the Irish looked up only to find that the trees were barren of potatoes. Finally, on the verge of starvation, they held a meeting over a few pints of Guinness. It was decided that they would switch their basic food from potatoes – good move as they couldn’t find any – to peaches. So early the next afternoon they set out with shovels to begin to dig for peaches. GLORY BE! Someone had buried their beloved potatoes. Ireland was saved. And that’s the way it was.

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Howie Reed
The one and only Howie Reed (the Old Dart Coach) goes back decades with the legends of our sport - he knows where the skeletons are buried. Just ask any of the ADO and WDF old-timers! His widely popular column, Toeing the Oche, is a must-read.

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