Column #HR30 The 2010 Grand Slam of Darts

Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Column 30
The 2010 Grand Slam of Darts

In all sport there are seminal events or moments that simply defy description or explanation. Regardless one must try. In today’s world of Blackberry-mania those events would be described using term like “OMG!!!” or “WTF!!!” with probably 200 shouts of “UNBELIEVABLE!!!” tossed in for good measure.

In the world of darts one seminal moment is Keith Deller’s 138 check out in the 1983 Embassy World Professional Championships. Deller only got the chance because Eric Bristow with one dart left passed up a shot at bull instead tossing an 18 to leave 32. An event remembered by American’s is their 1985 World Cup Team of Tony Payne, Rick “The Hammer” Ney, John Kramer and the late Danny Valletto defeating the English 9-0 in the team event at Brisbane’s Old Town Hall, at the conclusion of which the Old Dart Coach is pictured giving the crowd the “international sign of friendship” from his front row perch.

Other events in darts? Probably many to some. For the many, in the words of Joe Pesci playing Left Ruggiero in the movie Danny Brasco, “FUHGEDDABOUDIT!!!”

Now there is the 2010 Daily Mirror £400,000 Grand Slam of Darts held at the Wolverhampton Civic. It was the wildest dag gum “in all your born puttogethers” event in darting history. The champion came from 8-nil down to win 16-12 and his name wasn’t Phil Taylor. The script couldn’t have been written in Hollywood because no one would buy it. If you go to video replay at Grand Slam Final to watch the finals you won’t believe your eyes. Even though you know the results you will think that someone is having a “one off” on you. From the first day to the last this event was something special.

It was Mr. L. Price who emoted the words, “The night was clear, and the moon was yellow… and the leaves came tumblin’ down…” With all due respect and a nod of the head to Mr. Price the Old Dart Coach was singing “The nights were clear and the moon was yellow and the ‘seeds’ came tumbling down.” That with no regard to the fact that the nights might not have been clear – this was, after all, England – but the moons were yellow and the seeds did come tumblin’ down.” Maybe when Phil Taylor, playing with glasses, lost to Ted Hankey in the first round of group play a red flag should have been hoisted from the yardarm. When the 16 best arrived at the knockout stage there was no #4 Simon Whitlock or #5 Adrian Lewis as they were long gone. Only two group winners, Gary Anderson and Scott Waites, reached the quarter-finals.

Two of the exits leading to the quarters were noteworthy. Steven Beaton took out Ted Hankey 10-6 in a match where the crowd got as ugly as a torn softball. There’s an old saying that one person can “drink another person pretty.” It seems with a dart crowd, especially when they are selling two-pint cups of lager, it is also possible to “drink them ugly.” They were. The crowd at Wolverhampton Civic has a “hate-hate” relationship with Ted Hankey who is a regular on the BDO’s amateur tour. One blogger called the crowd “unfair drunken monkeys!” which should have drunken monkeys throughout the world screaming for an apology. When Hankey got ready for a double they booed. When he missed a shot or dropped a dart on the ground they cheered. After one winning leg Hankey gave them the old Eric Bristow “up yours” which was earned and well deserved. Group winner Ronnie Baxter went out to Phil Taylor 10-1 in a match that wasn’t that close. Down 9-nil Baxter finally hit a double. The crowd cheered wildly as Baxter did the Bristol version of the Snoopy Dance. Last year’s losing Grand Slam finalist Scott Waites eliminated a sub-par and seemly disinterested Raymond van Barneveld 10-7. Must be the coffee shops in Holland…

THE QUARTER-FINALS

Eric Bristow always said “the only leg you want to win in the last.” Such was the case for Wolverhampton resident the bus riding Wayne Jones. He trailed Gary Anderson 4-1, 11-8 and 15-12 then capitalized on Anderson’s inability to close the deal for a 16-15 win. James Wade trailed throughout his match with Terry Jenkins, at one time up 14-11 just two legs from elimination. It has been said of Wade, “the only person he was to beat is himself.” In a match with 11 ton-plus finishes, Jenkins, who had come from 3-1 down at one point, at 14-11 up started to lose the battle with Wade. With the match level Jenkins missed one dart at a double. Wade converted defeating Jenkins and this time himself.

On the other side of the draw Scott Waites, coming off wins at the Czech and Turkey Opens, moved a step closer to his second straight Grand Slam Finals with a workman like 16-10 over Co Stompe. Waites, a joiner from Halifax, led from the get-go getting the “W” with good scoring and deadly doubles. “My scoring wasn’t as strong as I wanted but I hit my doubles when I needed to. It’s brilliant to be in the semi-finals and it would be great to go all the way this year.” Little did he know…

Steve Beaton eliminated Phil Taylor 16-14 in a match where Beaton was down 14-11 after leading at one point 7-5. With the match at 15-14 Beaton missed three at double top only for Taylor to miss the bull out giving Beaton a second chance. “I didn’t think I would get a second chance because you generally don’t when you play Phil.”

Taylor has now crashed out of thee major TV events on the trot so could this be the beginning of the end? Those who take that approach do so at their own risk. Like Mark Twain, that would be Sid Waddell writing as Phil Taylor, Taylor might opine “The reports of my (dart) death are greatly exaggerated.” Time will tell…

THE SEMI FINALS

The semi finals had everything including well lubricated fans, some fine darts but no drama. They were the anti-climatic. James Wade had it on cruse control after building a 9-0 lead over local favorite Wayne Jones winning 16-6. Jones did pick up £50,000 which should have provided him with a taxi for the ride home. He rode the bus before Sunday afternoon’s match. Scott Waites took care of Steve Beaton. Waites, who is known for fast, starts led 2-0 and 4-1 before Beaton could level at 4 utilizing a 11-darter in the process. They would draw level again at 6 when Beaton “flat ran out of gas” missing doubles on the road to losing 16-9. “I’m as proud as punch to be in the final again,” said Waites. “I came here intending to do better than I did last year and hopefully I can do that and take the trophy tonight.” Beaton admitted, “I was pretty drained after beating Phil last night and Scott was outstanding.”

THE FINAL

The final, as Yogi might say, could have been a little “déjà vu all over again” with Scott Waites appearing in his second Grand Slam Final in a row. He was probably trying to erase from his mind the 16-2 shellacking at the hands of Phil Taylor from last year as he waited for the Sunday evening session to begin. In the case of James Wade, the world number #2, he was just waiting to put the “period” at the end of the sentence “currently the best player in the world.” Wade was coming off TV wins in the World Grand Prix in Dublin and Champions League over Phil Taylor

The fast starting Waites kicked off leg one of the final with a T80. He also scored T80’s in legs 2, 3 and 4. All legs he would lose going 4-nil down. The score would reach 8-nil with James “The Machine” Wade clicking on all cylinders. Waites said later, “I just wanted to get back into the game and make the score line respectable.” During the 8-nil run Wade had missed very few doubles which obviously couldn’t be written of Waites. When the score got to Wade up 8-2 anyone who claims they saw “Wade machine breaking down” is full of bologna.

Waites got off the “snyder” in the 9th leg in 13 darts setting up double 12 with a 97. In the 10th, leg, against the darts, Waites started with his 4th T80 using just one dart at double 18 for the leg after Wade missed a Shanghai for a 9-1 lead. With the darts Waites also captured the 11th leg with a 62 finish of triple 10, 16, double 8. Wade squandered 5 at a double opening the door for Waites to hit double 5 from 20 to narrow the Wade lead to 8-4. Waites would creep closer when his 140 left him with 36 which he took in one for 8-5 down as Wade watched at 179.

The Waites tsunami was temporarily halted as Wade erased 90 with triple 20 and double 15, on the third dart, for a 9-5 lead. Holding serve, Scott Waites kicked off the 15th leg with a 180 as Wade switched to plan “B” using 18’s for score. It almost worked when Wade used 168 to leave 134 which, as they say in the Bible, begat 40. Waites wanted 60 and got it straight away for 9-6 down. A mid-leg 180 propelled Waites to 123 which he narrowed to 8 which he made go away to make it 9-7. Leg 17? Waites. He clawed to within one, 9-8. After losing 8 of 9, Wade with darts finally got another “W” to get back to the two leg advantage at 10-8. Wade would get back to his three leg lead with a nifty 97 check in 2 at 11-8 in the race to 16.

Betting folks and drunks would have bet the ranch that when James Wade engineered a 140 to leave 24, with Waites not yet in Three Dart Land, the 20th leg was James Wade’s for the taking. It was but he didn’t.

Scott Waites used 139 to leave 36. Drunks and betting folk would have lost the ranch as Wade missed three at 24 to extend his lead to 4 legs. Instead Waites got the win with double 18. The 21st leg was a cracker with both players showing why they were in the finals. Waites used 137 to leave 32 which Wade duplicated with a 132 to leave the same finish. Waites converted to move within one at 11-10.

The 22nd leg may have been the best played of the match. Wade used 180 and 100 to leave 80. Waites then took out 121 to draw the match LEVEL at 11. From 8-0 down Waites had taken 11 of 14 legs.

The best leg of the match was followed by probably the worst in terms of finishing. Waites used 180 to get to 85 which he butchered to leave 9. Wade left 40 which he missed with 3. When Waites wiped out the 9 with 1 double 4 he pulled ahead for the first time 12-11. At this point James Wade looked like a man looking for a cat to kick.

Waites would take his 5th on the spin with double 9 after Wade missed double top for 13-11 up. Waites extended the lead to 14-11 as Wade now looked on stage like a man who would say to the warden as he was being strapped in, “If the phone rings don’t answer.”

Wade gained a leg back with double top for 14-12 down. One of the commentators said, “He (Wade) needs a head job”. The ODC almost fouled himself laughing as he yelled “Pick me… pick me.” The ODC is a sick puppy.

There’s a lot of talk about pressure especially when a player gets one leg from a major win. Scott Waites didn’t seem to be bothered with pressure. His winning leg was T40-T-T80 to leave 81. He missed the bull out to leave 25. No problemo as on his next trip to the line he hit a fat 9 and double 8 for the win.

James Wade is honest and if you ask him a question he’ll give you an answer. “James how do you feel to have been up 8-nil and lose?” “I feel like crap.”

Scott Waites, when asked the same question replied, “I don’t know I still don’t realize I’ve won.”

James Wade will re-group getting ready for the World Championships at the Alexander Palace which is called the Ally Pally for reasons that escape the ODC. Scott Waites has some decisions to make. He’s scheduled to play in the BDO World Championships at Lakeside that run January 1-10. He is a 6th seed and would meet Ted Hankey in the first round. What a surprise that the two players who played in the PDC Grand Slam would face each other first round of an Olly special. Waites is not qualified for the Ladbrokes World Championships that run’s December 16 thru January 3 and pays more money. To play, Waites would have to join the PDC and then qualify November 29 in Derby. If he tries that route you can bet your last dollar that he will be gone from the BDO World Championships.

Jesus, John Lowe and Scott Waites are all joiners. Coincidence? The ODC thinks not.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING from Toeing the Oche and thank you.

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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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