Column #HR29 It was a Dark and Stormy Night

Thursday, November 11, 2010
Column HR29
It was a Dark and Stormy Night

Victorian novelist Edward Bulwer-Lytton in 1830 wrote, “It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents – except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.” So it was back in the 80’s, the 1980’s, when the still not aged Dart Coach stepped off the train in Barnsley for New Year’s Eve and day with the Chaddocks of the Longcar Inn. He was repaying them for their stay at the El Rancho de Reed during the Golden Gate Classic held the previous summer in Concord California. Lady Wendy Chaddock had just finished third in the North American Open.

Barnsley at the time was the home of coal mining, a language that was almost incomprehensible as spoken by locals, wooden doubles dart boards soaked in water and pint’s of lager. The Dart Coach handled the language by nodding his head and smiling. The wooden doubles board became an excuse for his poor play as a hastily arranged substitute on the local darts team. “When hitting the board with a well aimed dart liquid would stream down the wall of the Longcar Inn. I felt the board was crying in pain,” he explained. An immediate decision was made to miss the board thus not inflecting possible pain. He was very successful. The pints of lager took care of themselves as it helped with the nodding of the head.

History doesn’t note, nor will it, if these were the conditions or the mode of travel that greeted Wes Newton on his recent visit to Barnsley. Little did Newton know or probably imagine what was in store for him over the next three days of play at the Barnsley Metrodome.

On Friday he became one of four ITV qualifiers for the Grand Slam of Darts setting him up for a shot at some of the £400,000 in prize money offered by the Daily Mirror. He didn’t draw that well in the Slam being in a group with Phil Taylor but you can’t win if you ain’t there.

PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP, BARNSLEY

’Tiz not recorded in the Good Book, or even the bad one, if Wes Newton took a stroll thru Barnsley on Saturday morning to visit the local outdoor market. That was the agenda of the Dart Coach those many years ago. He, as is his want, got lost being unable to find his way back to the Longcar Inn. The day was saved when he found a friendly pub whose Governor delivered him back safe and sound to the Chaddocks. Wes Newton never got lost in Barnsley especially when he went through Saturday’s PDC field of 135 like “corn through a seagull” going 42-1. He was challenged only once and that in a 6-5 win over Robert Thornton. In the final he took care of Colin Lloyd 6-3, after being down 2-1, for his third PDC win of the year. Had Lloyd of won it would have been his fourth.

Sunday in Barnsley is quiet. Not a lot going on when the local footballers are playing away. Much as it had been for the Dart Coach back in the day this Sunday was special. For the Dart Coach it was New Year’s Day which called for a trip to watch a rugby game in the freezing cold with no anti-freeze available. Newton, for his part, needed nothing to enjoy his Sunday in Barnsley as he was red-hot. He joined the ranks of Phil Taylor, Adrian Taylor, Robert Thornton and Mervyn King as players that have annexed ProTour weekend titles. As with Saturday’s play Newton was dominating as he never got to an 11th leg in his 7 matches on the day. In the final he took out Mark Webster 6-1. For the weekend Newton took home two PDC titles and £12,000. The Dart Coach boarded the train with a headache and enough material for a story on darts.

THE GRAND SLAM

When the Dart Coach left Barnsley for London he was primed to play in the British Open which was played in the Rainbow Suite. He played brilliantly in what he though was a 2-0 win over a German player who probably doubled as a Volkswagen mechanic. Before a crowd of one cheering him on, Ms. Pat Piper, he hit the second double only to find out as he was walking away that it was best of 5. Newton would be headed to the Civic Hall in Wolverhampton for the £400,000 Daily Mirror Grand Slam of Darts which kicks off a 9 day run on Saturday the 13th.

Left out of pre-tournament news releases was the speculation of whether Phil Taylor would use these 9 days of play to reassert his domination of the sport. His place in dart history is etched in stone with current form written in the sand with the tide almost in. Taylor was coming off a terrible October that saw him lose in the semis of both the Grand Prix and the Champions League. Very un-Taylor-like. It’s a field of 32 quality players competing in groups of 4 playing round-robin best of 9 with 16 moving on to the next stage.

Last weekend’s hero Wes Newton gets no cakewalk being draw into a group with Phil Taylor, Michael van Gerwin and two-time amateur Lakeside champion Ted Hankey. That group doesn’t swing into action until Sunday. The only America in the field is PDC Unicorn women’s world champion from Las Vegas, Stacy Bromberg. She will “toe it up” on Saturday against Mervyn King. The event is going to be shown live on ITV which means nothing to dart fans not in the UK. Not to worry. The action will be shown live on a number of internet sites. The SoCal Sage, that would be Bill Specht, suggests you might try US Stream TV. Bob and Maggie Martell have updated the Northern California Darts Association web site to include times of play as well as a link to viewing. Dart fans can go to Northern California Darts Association for more specific information.

Edward Bulwer-Lytton whose “It was a dark and stormy night…” started this adventure in excellence has one other claim to fame. At the Harvard of the West, aka San Jose State, the English Department each year sponsors a contest to “celebrate” the worst extremes of “dark and stormy night” writing. Toeing the Oche doesn’t enter only to be fair to others. The Dart Coach leading his match in the British Open 2-0? He lost 3-2 and was then was escorted out of the Rainbow Suite by a BDO official because “the fire marshal said we were over crowded.”

It was a dark and stormy London afternoon that greeted the Dart Coach.

Gotta love those BDO types!

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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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