Column #HR39 A Night of Shame

Monday, March 21, 2011
Column HR39
A Night of Shame

There is a very fine line between a “great sporting crowd” and a “mob of hooligans.” During the period of the Roman Empire thousands would gather in the Coliseum in the name of sport. Often that “sport” matched Christians against lions or slaves against bears. Those who attended may have considered themselves “sport fans” but in fact they were a “mob.”

6,500 “darting fans” packed the SECC in Glasgow for last Thursday’s Premier League play. A large majority of them turned into a “mob” in a totally disgusting display of thugishness the likes of which are usually identified with a soccer pitch. It would be unfair to “soccer-like hooligans” to paste that label on these drunken louts who disgraced their city, country and the sport of darts. One PDC official on camera said, “It was just a very small minority.” Nice try.

It was a night that started full of promise as the venue was ready to welcome their adopted Scottish son Raymond van Barneveld and real son Gary Anderson home.

James Wade is like the weather “Like it or love it, it’ll change.” Wade went up 6-2 in a match that was nothing special. Then as is his want he went the “walk-a-bout’s” against Terry Jenkins. Wade gave up trying in leg nine after losing the 8th when Jenkins took out 32 while Wade sat at 40. Given renewed life Jenkins tossed all three of his T-80s clawing back to 6-5. Wade missed the bull for a 167 but converted for 7-5. The players traded 180s with Jenkins taking the next leg in 13. A tie was in the works – there hasn’t been one so far in PL play – but Jenkins missed double 10 on a 140 finish. Wade converted double top for the 8-6 win. Wade, as usual, was a target for the fans during his play. Wade handled the situation by pretty much ignoring it. “I heard the booing all night but the crowd don’t know my gran was from Paisley. It is annoying as they don’t know I’m half-Scottish and I just wish they’d give me a break at times.”

The Scottish love Dutchman Raymond van Barneveld. He received a welcome that brought a little moisture to the eyes of the easy going guy from the land of the wooden shoes and window shopping. Barney didn’t disappoint utilizing six T80s on his way to an 8-4 win over Mark Webster. In the entire match Webster had only one chance to steal a leg with a double. In the 11th Webster needed a bull which went wanting. Barney would go 8 for 17 in doubles which is a little misleading. He missed six in the first leg which he won riding a pair of T80s. Toss out the first leg and he was 7 for 10 with outs of 121, 161 and 116 in legs five, six and seven that turned the level match into a 5-2. “I always try to do my best wherever I go but the support in Scotland is amazing and it makes me pretty emotional,” said van Barneveld. “Playing in front of crowds like this is why you want to be a darts player.” Barney claimed, “I’m not afraid any more. For the last two years I was afraid to lose, but let the best players in the world come to me because I’m not afraid any more.”

For the second week in a row Phil Taylor opened a big lead, 5-2 and 6-3, then hung on for the 8-5 win over Simon Whitlock. Whitlock, who like last week’s Chinese take away, has gone a “little off,” missed darts in legs five, nine and thirteen to turn things around. On the other side of the coin Taylor missed double darts in legs two, eight, ten and eleven but still finished with a 103 average. Taylor was booed sporadically during the match for reasons unknown. Why fans – and “fans” a relative word here – want to boo the greatest darts player of the era is a mystery unless they are such miserable sods they want others to join their misery.

In a post match interview Taylor offered his opinion. “They boo you, then when you walk off the stage they want your autograph. I asked them, you was just booing me now you want my autograph. They’ll say ‘I was just testing you.’ The atmosphere in Scotland is unbelievable and a couple of people threw coins which was a bit silly but some fans do that to test your bottle. You can see there is a recession as it was only six pence – it was £1.50 last year.”

A NIGHT OF SHAME

It’s always good to remember that nothing happens in a vacuum. Scotland’s Night of Shame was not exception.

The main attraction was the match between World Champion Adrian Lewis and Scotland’s latest dart hero Gary Lewis. Lewis won his world championships last January defeating Anderson 7 sets to 5. The Glasgow Daily Record ran the following on the day of the match: “World champion Adrian ‘Jackpot’ Lewis hopes he gets pelters in Scotland tonight – because all the boos will be music to his ears. He’ll have to get the better of Anderson, he will also have to put the jeers of 6,500 Scots out of his mind – and hope they don’t drench him in lager! Two years ago, representing England at the inaugural Jocky Wilson Cup, Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor was sprayed with alcohol by drunken fans. PDC bosses, however, have promised Lewis he’ll be kept dry during his walk-on.”

Except that according to the same paper Lewis did get beer on him during the walk in.

Anderson opined, “I haven’t forgotten the stick I took at the world championship, and it will feel weird having the punters on my side this time, but I’m proud to represent Scotland in the Premier League.”

For the record Lewis jumped to a 3-0 lead when he took 111 out to get off the snyder for 3-1 down. In the 5th leg Anderson missed three at a double when Lewis used the bull to erase 84. At 3-2 down Lewis took the next 6 for an 8-2 win. The Daily Record’s Anthony Haggerty led with, “Scot darts fans shamed their country last night after English world champion Adrian Lewis was pelted with coins as he took on home favorite Gary Anderson at the SECC in Glasgow. The night was marred by the antics of the sell-out home crowd who hurled drink over Lewis during his walk on stage and loudly jeered him at every opportunity. Drunken thugs also threw coins at Lewis and then turned their wrath on England’s 15-time world champion Phil Taylor who was also targeted with missiles.”

Haggerty’s article continued quoting Anderson, “I was expecting some booing and it is something I take in games in England but I was disappointed with the coin throwing and it was hard for both of us and it cost me my concentration. I was embarrassed there was an element in the crowd who spoiled the night for Adrian and myself.”

Now the rest of the story in true Paul Harvey fashion. Adrian Lewis for those not watching is not exactly Little Lord Fauntleroy. One great darts writer labeled him “Baby” Adrian Lewis for his actions and behavior. His statement about “hoping he gets pelters” was like tossing red meat to a lion. Drunken morons are always up for a challenge. Lewis probably didn’t help the situation by stepping away from the oche on a number of occasions and looking to referee Bruce Spendly for assistance when the booing got really heavy and nasty. More tossing of red meat. But then hindsight is always 20-20 so blaming Lewis is unfair although he does seem to carry a rather large set of “rabbit ears.”

Is there anything Anderson could have done? Maybe he could have asked the crowd to quiet down but that’s just conjecture. In the 9th leg it did appear, after he had picked up a coin that had been thrown, that he made no effort to hit double tops for a win. That was the opinion of match commentator Sid Waddell. Hard to tell as for the night Anderson was only two for 20. With the score knotted at three words were exchanged backstage during the break. What was said and who said what is unknown. That might have had an effect on Anderson also.

In hindsight with the match tied at three the players should never have come back from the break. Some PDC official should have announced, “This match is suspended and will resume next week.” That action would have sent a clear message that the Professional Darts Corporation has no desire to emulate the old days of world class soccer where too often drunken louts were the story.

This might just well be one of those seminal moments when something has to be done. The PDC must make the call of what face the sport will carry. They certainly don’t want it as boring as a date with Daria Morgendorfer or as exciting as being the center piece of a dinner with Hannibal Lecter along with a nice Chianti and fava beans.

THE OLD DART COACH WRITES

Had a visit this weekend from a former lady darts player. Well yes she’s still a lady. Warmed up for my Thailand Tour with a round of darts two nights running. Laid a good whipping on the fair damsel on soft point machine on night one. Had a really sore arm and not enough aiming fluid on night two. Soft point machines cancel the game when you’ve had 25 turns. We got cancelled. Oh the shame of it.

I was reminded that back in the day I wrote of a lady darter who moved from California to Arkansas as one “that raised the IQ of both states with the move.” Talked with her for the first time in years. She’s now in Muncie, Indiana. No comment or name because My Pal Jane would get really mad.

Whilst watching the news on the telly recently the following was reported, “Last year over 23 million dollars was paid out incorrectly in Medicare funds for those suffering from erectile dysfunction.” The Government excuse? “It was a software problem.” DAH

Kia Ora Jack, formerly of New Jersey, sends a good example of an old dangling modifier. Two women are at a party in New York. Both are from Texas. One sees the other in cowgirl clothes, approaches and says, “Howdy, where y’all from?”

The cowgirl answers abruptly, “Don’t you know that you should never end a sentence with a preposition?”

Texas girl responds, “Alright, where y’all from, bitch!” Obviously a Texas lady dart player.

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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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