Column #HR49 World Matchplay – Sixteen Becomes Eight

Friday, July 22, 2011
Column 49
World Matchplay – Sixteen Becomes Eight

While resting on the couch with viewing fluid in hand the Old Dart Coach actually broke out in laughter. Here he was viewing the current best 16 dart players in the world still alive in the £400,000 Sky Bet Mobile World Matchplay and he was laughing. What had shaken the old coot from head to toe, but not caused a drop of viewing fluid to spill, was a blog entry that appeared along side Justin TV’s streaming of play from Blackpool.

After listening to 5 days of commentators talking about professionalism the ODC had almost forgotten that darts was really fun. It was really fun in part because most of the regular players and fans were usually a ‘bubble or two” off plumb center. A male blogger in the midst of the dramatic match between Paul Nicholson and Raymond van Barneveld out of the blue posted, “The name Cheryl Crow gives me a boner.”

(Okay, he slightly misspelled Sheryl but “C” or “S” the results we must assume were the same – so lighten up. The same advice goes out from the ODC to the TV talk guys, Sid Waddell excluded: lighten the “F” up!

“Now that’s a good ton-eighty.” Huh? All ton-eighty’s are good. Never seen a bad T80 in my life. This reminded the ODC of the time he was doing some announcing work up in Canada with Big Cliff Lazarenko. It was not a great week. During an exhibition at the Steel Workers Hall on Lake Orillia, Ontario Cliff was having one of those rare off nights. He wasn’t helped much by a small crowd or the ODC’s announcing talents which many thought thin. To close the show two ladies from the crowd, who had never played darts, were brought to the stage to play Cliff. The two ladies would each throw, then Cliff would throw. The ladies’ scores would be added together. To make it more fun Cliff could only finish on double-double. The lady’s somehow got the score to 50 as Cliff got to a double-double. The kindly-gray-haired-school-mom-type asked the ODC, “What do I do?” “Well Dear,” he said while walking up to the board and pointing to the red bull, “You throw the dart right here.” “I’m not sure I can do that.” “Sure you can.” And she did. Dead smack in the center. The ODC disdaining any semblance of professionalism lost it completely as Lazarenko exited stage right.

Now in such circumstances, when the star walks off stage, he is usually brought back by the announcer, who then waits off stage himself. The star then brings back the announcer after telling everyone what a great friend and announcing talent he is. The ODC did his part. Then waited in the wings…

Nothing. Not a mention.

During the ride back to Toronto… not a word.

During the plane ride to the Canadian Open in Winnipeg… nothing.

The first event in the Canadian Open was the four person team. The ODC put his talent up for grabs. Three great Canadian lady players, two of which were Rani Gill and Carol Greenwood, drafted the ODC. Well actually there was no one else but that’s a well-kept secret. Their first and last draw? The team of John Lowe, Bob Anderson, Cliff Lazarenko and and Keith Deller.

The ODC was delegated to start for the “Three Ladies and a Gent.” In today’s soft point game they would probably be called “Three Oars and a Bore.” He of course lost the bull. “Cliff to throw first.” Three perfect darts in the triple 20. “One-hundred and eighty!”

The ODC toed the oche, shaking like a dog passing a peach pit. He was playing the big stars of darts. He toed the oche, took a dead breath, drew back his arm, took aim and threw.” One problem – he forgot to let go of the dart. It hit his foot. Lazarenko jumped on the little miscue like a NBA player on a Kardashian.

“Owie’s excited. He’s never seen a one-hundred and eighty before.”

“Not lately ‘cause I been with you the last two weeks.”
The first liar never stands a chance.

THINNING THE HERD

If you’re a professional darts player you don’t want to either open the show or bring down the curtain on a days’ playing. Just like in show biz the opening act says, “Okay, make that last trip to the loo and stock up on liquid.” The last act is called a “house clearer.” During the playing of the second round of the Matchplay those first and last matches were really good.

Wednesday opened with a match of former “amateur” champions at lakeside, Steve Beaton (1996) and Mark Webster (2008). Fact is the first four legs, split 2-2, were good. Those early legs saw 168 to set up 14 (Beaton), a missed bull for a 130-out (Beaton), a 168 to leave 134 (Webster) only to lose the leg when Beaton took out 140. Beaton would break serve with a 133 for a 5-4 lead. Going for the 6-4 lead Beaton would miss 3 at 36. Webster then tossed a 105 (60, 5, tops-check to level. Something changed at this point. Beaton seemed to lose one dart each trip to the line. Tied at 6 Webster took 7 of the next 8 for a 13-7 win.

Adrian Lewis was in deep trouble against Kevin Painter in round one. That wasn’t the case against Vincent van der Voort who he downed 13-6. The format here is: TV Commercials. They come after 5, 10 and 15 legs. Lewis took the first set 5-0. Lewis played good here but then van der Voot couldn’t buy a double as he had a case of the “offers” as in 0 for 7. In the second set van der Voort won 4-1 to narrow the gap to 6-4. A “laugher” turned into a nail biter for a bit. van der Voort stayed on stage during the break…

In retrospect, “bad EYE DEAR.” Lewis got a little something during the break. He took the third set 4-1 to build a 10-5 lead. Lewis won this one 13-6 and did it in spectacular fashion. Lewis took out 170 for the win. That’s worth a bunch of cash if it stands up. It didn’t. If Lewis stands up he’ll also take home £100,000 cash. Lewis and Webster meet Friday at 5 AM Left Coast time. Take Lewis to win 16-11.

The first three legs of the Simon Whitlock-Denis Ovens match were as good as have ever been played. Whitlock opened with T80, then T25 followed by a ton. Sitting on an 11-darter, Whitlock hit the bull but missed double tops. Ovens tossed in a T80 of his own to get to77. Whitlock hit the double. Whitlock also tossed a T80 in leg 2 but Ovens negated it with 60-125-83-T to leave 132. Whitlock got to 100 when Ovens “turned up the heat” with 25-57 the dead bull to draw level at 1. The third leg looked to be ready for the Ovens’ column when Whitlock landed three-triple 18’s (162) to leave 16. Whitlock took a lead he would never relinquish winning 13-1. Whitlock had a respectable 96.93 average with a double connect rate of 13 out of 25. This was one of those days when the “heat wasn’t in the ovens” or as Sid Waddell said, “It’s a del Shannon time match… A Running Away.”

Simon Whitlock will meet Andy Hamilton in the other 8 AM quarter final match on Friday morning. Hamilton won 13-11 over John Henderson. As honesty is the best policy it must be reported that the ODC fell asleep during this match. Andy Hamilton built an early lead of 4-1 when

Scot “Rock ’N” John Henderson put together a little run to get within 2 but double trouble attacked the rookie. Andy Hamilton averaged only 90.45 which is the lowest for a winner in the tournament. An in form Whitlock should have little trouble with Hamilton maybe winning 16-8.

The evening session which starts at 11 AM Vegas time should be a barn burner. First up will be Raymond van Barneveld against James Wade. To get to the quarters Raymond van Barneveld had to “put” Paul Nicholson to bed. It was a match the crowd wanted. Just prior to the match the viewer was reminded of the Phil Taylor quote, “He’s (Nicholson) got a big mouth and he won’t shut up.” The crowd had signed up for Barney’s Army. First set of 5 – Barney took it 3-2. Nicholson tied it at 4-4 then faded. Barney overcame a T80 in the 9th with a 149 to leave 32 which he erased in three. The 10th leg was there for Nicholson but he “jacked around with double top, after getting there with 20 and triple 20.” Barney then erased 71. When Nicholson took leg 8 the crowd gave him a little “BOO” as he went after 40. He hit 20, nothing and then double 10. When he hit the winner he stuck his tongue out. Nice touch. When he lost the next two legs Waddell said, “Sometimes when you stick your tongue out you get it bit.” Nicholson found the 13th leg to his liking. After Barney tossed a 180 to leave 120, Nicholson took out 164 (57-57-Bull) to draw level at 6. Nicholson got a lead at 7-6 but no answer when Barney took out 116 against the darts which was followed by an 11-darter of 180-125-140 then 16 and double tops for an 8-7 lead. From 11-9 up Barney took control thanks to some misses and some great play. The 22nd and final leg was UGLY. It took Barney 6 from 40 to hit the double.

James Wade was the ODC pick to win the “whole shudrula.” Prior to Wade’s match with Mark Walsh he had only dropped 1 leg. That would change, as is sometimes his want, he gets the “walk arounds.” Wade built a 3-1 lead with a neat 121 (60-25 2 x 18) check. That lead almost got to 4-1 when Walsh stole the leg with a T80 to leave 38 which he vaporized. Wade built a 7-2 lead which turned into 11-7. Then Wade got the “stares” as Walsh got to within one at 12-11 down. A Walsh win and it would go to OT. Against the darts Walsh got it to 61 with Wade on 122. No problem with 18-triple 18 and dead bull. Game over drive home safely. Go with Wade in the race to 31. Barney’s too laid back.
That leaves the match of the day. Wes Newton against Philip Douglas Taylor. Wes Newton beat rookie Justin Pipe 13-8 in a match that wasn’t that close. Newton led from the first dart to the last which was a dead bull on the end of a 170-finish. Hitting the 170 means that he will split high out with Adrian Lewis. That bring us to one Phil Taylor.

There’s not much not to like about Phil Taylor’s convincing 13-7 win over Wayne Jones. Those “aginners” may bring up that he had a 5-1 lead which morphed into 5-4. Oh yeah, some though he wobbled a little on doubles. BFD. When building a 5-1 lead Taylor averaged 109-plus. He finished with an average of 108. Wayne Jones played well enough to win most matches averaging 97.89. There were some light moments that highlighted why Phil Taylor is Phil Taylor. In leg #17 Wayne Jones, with the darts, got 74 from 106 to leave 32. This followed Taylor’s T80 which left 32. There is no argument but that Bruce Spendly, besides being a good referee, is one of the really-really good guys. As Taylor prepared to hunt down 32 Bruce said, “Wayne you require 32.” Taylor stepped back, looked a Bruce with a smile as if to say “Bruce it’s me Phil.” Taylor then gestured to Bruce and turned to the audience, “How about him?” Oh yes Taylor hit the double.
Down 11-7 Wayne Jones darn near took out 130 with the bull leaving himself with 25. Taylor was sitting on 124. The first Taylor dart found triple 20 for 60 which he followed with triple 14. Huh? Maybe he was going for the single 14 for a bull finish. Leaving 22 he hit the double 11. As Taylor walked to pick put his darts he “put the finger gun to his head and pulled the trigger.” He was saying as Mr. B. Bunny would “What a maroon.” “What the heck?” He followed with a winning leg that was pure Phil Taylor. T80-T40-T55 to leave 16 which went away with fat 8 and double 4. After he was asked about the 108 average and if he could improve it. “I don’t think I can get any better.” Okay, and he should, why? Oh yes, he had “bed hair.”

TALES OF THE ODC

But first. Eric Bristow is just as opinionated as a darts commentator as he was as a player. Unlike Paul Nicholson his “darts were always able to cash the checks that his mouth wrote.” His latest target was Scot Gary Anderson who despite 10 T80’s went out to Andy Hamilton 10 –8. He averaged 98.04 but only connected on 6 of 21 outs. After the match Anderson said, “I haven’t picked up a dart in a month. I had friends visiting and couldn’t practice.” Eric jumped on that like a hog on corn. “Every time Gary loses he has an excuse.” Bravo Eric.

Recently the Old Dart Coach emailed the Grand Poobah of this web site to ask, “How come there are no posted comments if people are reading ‘Toeing the Oche’?” Mr. Dartroid honestly answered that he had “no idea” but could confirm that he personally got “uddles” of emails after he posted a column. “Uddles” is just a “tad” more than “some” or “many.” The ODC can now rest as he received an email last evening. It came from someone who identified himself or herself as “Dart Pro 501.”

“You arrogant jerk. How the hell would you, a non-dart playing loud mouth drunken bum, ever get elected to the Darting Hall of Fame?” The ODC sent the following reply. “Dear Dart Pro 501. The same way that Obama got elected President of the United States. I lied.”

Another e-mailer sent, “’Beauty is in the eye of the beer holder.’ Nice?” Yes, must agree. I agree. I wrote it. It’s a fact that many people have discovered the morning after.

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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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