Column #HR44 Anderson’s the new star in town. (But keep an eye on John Part.)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Column HR44
Anderson’s the new star in town. (But keep an eye on John Part.)

The Old Dart Coach likes to stay with a routine. He’s living proof that “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” One reason may be because an “old dog” doesn’t want to do tricks. But that’s beside the point…

The ODC also likes to say that the month of May in America provides sport with the best songs of the year. It starts with the Kentucky Derby and the University of Louisville band playing “My Old Kentucky Home” and ends with the Jim Nabors singing “Back Home Again in Indiana” at the Indy 500.

In the world of the PDC every TV event in any month starts with the players having their own “walk-on” music. Gary Anderson uses “Jump Around” by a band called House of Pain. During the playing of the 2009 Grand Prix of Darts in Dublin Anderson claimed Adrian Lewis was jumping around during the playing of their match. Lewis took the match 3 sets to 2. Anderson’s message to Lewis? “Pay backs are a bitch” which isn’t a song but could be next time Anderson makes an entrance.

That payback came when Gary Anderson whipped up on Adrian Lewis like a rented mule in the final of the 2011 Premier League Final. The final score was 10-4 but it wasn’t that close. Anderson would “jump” to leads of 4-0 and 9-1 which should have convinced the United Nations Human Rights Commission to step in and stop the slaughter. The now ocean floor fish food Osama bin Laden had a better chance against the Navy Seals. As history will report he had none. Zero, Zip, Nada. Lewis can be either good or bad. On this night at Wembley “Jackpot” Lewis was both. Very good when he eliminated Phil Taylor 8-3 then bad when he lost to Anderson. Taylor did miss seven doubles in four legs that would have dramatically altered the Lewis win. Of course “If Ida’s” don’t count.

Taylor won the bull to start but chose to go second. Bad “Eye Dear” as Lewis held twice and then broke with a leg of 42-140-140-132 and 12, double tops for a 3-0 lead. Leading 6-2 Lewis tossed a dream leg of 180-180-109 to leave 32 which Lewis eliminated for a 10-darter. Observers should have seen this Taylor loss coming as he had been playing below par for a couple of weeks.

The other semi was by far the best match of the night as Gary Anderson was down 3-0, 4-1 before winning 7 of 9 legs to capture the win against Barney. Van Barneveld got level at 6 with a 137-check against the darts after he’d been broken by Anderson for the 6-5 lead. In an attempt to hold and go up by one Barney’s scoring went south which Anderson punished with 180-125-180 leaving 16 which went away with three for a 12-darter. Anderson took the decider with T-123-135-104 to leave 36 and he erased with double 18.

Gary Anderson, like all Scots, is not easy to understand. Many years ago the ODC went out after opening day of the Canadian Open in Winnipeg with Jocky Wilson and the late Leighton Rees for a refreshing beverage or twenty. The trio was out many hours which equates to many beverages. The next day the ODC was asked what Rees and Wilson had to say. “No idea other than ‘another’.” When asked what he would do during the playing of the three-four playoff game Anderson said, “Sit on my backside and drink coffee.”

You would have needed lots of coffee to stay awake for this yawner which Taylor won 8-6 in a match that neither of the two players or the crowd seemed to care about.

Many years ago pro football decided they would have a play-off between the team that finished second in their respective leagues. Those were the days of the AFL and NFL. Representing the NFL were the Green Bay Packers coached by Mr. Vincent Lombardi. He was asked about the game shortly before the kickoff. “It’s a rinky-dink game played in a rinky-dink city for a rinky-dink reason.”

Where’s Mr. Lombardi when we need him.

A NEW STAR

A new star has emerged from the ranks of the PDC. Pencil in, for now, the name of Gary Anderson – right up there with Phil, Barney and Jackpot. After that, get the other end of the pencil ready to maybe do the business with “Jackpot”.

In Las Vegas when you’re known on a marquee, the billboard not the tent, by one name you’re a star. It helps if you have a catchy nickname – which eliminates Anderson. The gentleman from Scotland has a kind of nickname with “The Flying Scot” but that’s three names not suitable for a marquee. The most recent “Flying Scotsman” was a 2006 film about amateur cyclist Graeme Obree. “The film starts with Graeme Obree cycling into a wood preparing to hang himself. There is then a flashback to Obree’s childhood, where he was routinely bullied, events which leave severe psychological scars.”

Doesn’t sound like the very sturdy Anderson, who could probably handle a bully like he does the triple 20, as the ODC says, “with ridiculous ease.” That is without breaking a sweat.

So how come the nickname? At one time Anderson was a flight attendant which conjures up the sight of him sashaying down the isles asking “Coffee, tea or me.” Not!!!

A relative newcomer to the PDC – he joined in 2009 – Anderson has been on the bubble for some time. In last year’s world championships he reached the final only to lose 7-4 to Adrian Lewis. So what brought about this “sudden” star status? Plain and simple: a whole bunch of wins in a short space of time. The former BDO & WDF ranked number #1 Anderson has been able to garner wins in Players Championships and now in a major, the Premier League Title.

This is one of those “you should have seen it coming” situations. The rap on Anderson was that “he fumbles doubles.” No more. A thing of the past, lest it be implied that this win was a one off “fuhgeddaboudit”. Anderson took a Players Championship at Crawley just a few days after his Premier League win continuing his run of form. So in three days his bank account increased by £131,000 which is real money.

Should anyone ask, Paul Nicholson took Sunday’s event at Crawley over Terry Jenkins 6-3. Jenkins had been the loser to Anderson in Saturday’s final. Not a bad weekend for Jenkins as he collected £6,000.

Pundits are strange folk. They love to predict results but develop amnesia when they’re wrong. This time with Gary Anderson they got it right. After two-plus years he’s now accustomed to the “pace” of PDC play. He’s more comfortable. In any sport, especially darts, moving up to the next level is always a challenge. Along with everything else new events seem to move at the speed of light. Doubles seem to be the size of a “gnat’s ass” which according to research is “roughly .0001 or one ten thousandth of an inch.” Further research found that a “gnat’s ass” is “one tenth of a skosh”. It should be noted that there is little history of anyone actually ever measuring a “gnat’s ass.” For now, in the words of Vince Gill, Anderson is the “Next Best Thing.” The UK Open will be his next test.

OLD DART COACH TIME

Phil Taylor’s dismal showing in the Premier League final should not, as alread noted, have come as a complete surprise. In the two events of the Austria Players Championships just prior to the Premier League final Taylor lost to John Part 6-2 and Vincent van der Voort 6-5. The name to watch in the coming months is “Big” John Part who’s playing with renewed vigor and success. The former world champion went through a difficult period where he fell down the rankings like a terrorist in the ocean. He’s got a new sponsor in COSMO darts (yes, gratuities will be accepted) and he’s back on the winning track.

The ODC copped to the fact that he let doubles partner Mike Enright down back in the day. He missed the double to beat Eric Bristow and the late Leighton Rees during play of the North American at the now closed Sahara Hotel in Las Vegas. Kia Ora Jack, from the land of Kiwi’s and nervous sheep (unlike in Scotland they have the zipper to warn and maybe save them), wanted to set the record straight. When discussing the state of darts the quote “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times” was used and credited to William Shakespeare. Kia Ora was having none of it with his email, “Willie Shakes was long gone before the French Revolution. It was Chas Dickens’ Tale. No wonder you missed the double!” The ODC would like to come clean one more time. The reason for the missed double was a strong gusty hot air constantly blowing from the control desk.

The North American and the Sahara were not without some controversies. The highlight for American players was the all-star match between the ADO and the BDO – the best from the Colonies against the best from the Crown. The BDO players were an unofficial group that paid their own extra night of lodging to play the match. Then came the for-runner of the PDC called the World Professional Dart Players Association (WPDPA) with Roger Nickson as their executive director.

Dixon, as he’s called by his pal the ODC, writes of the Sahara, “The first Hotel I ever stayed at in the USA (1979 World Cup)… good memories every time, probably the best was in ‘84 when we had the WPDPA half-yearly meeting and found out that Tom Fleetwood was not going to honour the offer to pay for the extra nights room for the British players in the ADO v. BDO match. After the meeting I phoned his room to inform him (we wouldn’t be participating). His answer ‘you can’t do that!’ My response, ‘I already have!’ Phone down. John Lowe, Cliff and Carol Lazarenko and I went to the Hilton to see Wayne Newton for the duration of the match.”

Eric Bristow, who was not a member of the Players Association, put together a team that played. But the mystique of the event was lost and too has faded from view.

Dixon ended his email with “That was getting one back for the ODC.”

Jerry Indig sent an email that echoed the memories of most all from the Sahara days, “Brings tears to my eyes . Thanks.”

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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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