Column #HR57 Brendan “Cinderfella” Dolan

Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Column HR57
Brendan “Cinderfella” Dolan

“The report of my death was been greatly exaggerated” was the text of a telegram sent by Mark Twain to the New York Journal after the newspaper reported his death. Twain was in London at the time, probably sharing a few pints, tossing a few darts and musing about his next great story – much like the Old Dart Coach does on his weekly trips to his local, The Sporting Chance, where the serving wench, albeit coquettish, serves ice cold pints of lager with an alacrity that is astounding.

Just a short time ago the demise of Phil Taylor was trumpeted loud and clear with all the verb and bravado of an Al Hirt solo. “He’s on the way down.” “He’s past his prime.” Now? In the words of Joe Pesci in My Cousin Vinny, “Not so much.” Through the first three legs of the Champion League Darts Taylor had earnings of £5,800, qualified for the finals, went 13-1 in matches and 68-25 in legs won for a plus 45 in legs. Simon Whitlock leads in earnings with £8,100 but has yet to qualify for the finals.

It was the poet Alfred Lord Tennyson who wrote: “In the spring a livelier iris changes on the burnish dove. In the spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.” Darters know Tennyson was a poet because unlike Maya Angelou he something rhymes. Plus you know what the heck he’s writing about.

This is one of the ODC’s favorite sayings with a slight modification: “In spring a young man’s thoughts turn to what women have been thinking about all winter.”

For players on the PDC tour the following change should be made to the words of Tennyson and the ODC: “In the fall a professional darts player turns his thoughts to money. At the same time his lady’s thoughts turn to get the money… honey.”

The coming of October is the starting gun for the PDC to “get the money.” It’s crunch time. A player that has been languishing in the back of the pack can take giant steps forward without saying “Motha May I.”

First stop was the PDC Players Championship in Dublin which was a prelude to the £350,000 PartyPoker.com Grand Prix. Phil Taylor took Day One of the Players but lost in the finals to Joe Cullen on Day Two. Richie Burnett’s had won in Nuland, Netherlands on September 25 for first win in 10 years which rumor has it is a decade. Burnett’s win got a spot in the World Grand Prix in Dublin. For the two days Taylor banked a cool £9,000 which when added to the £5,800 from league gave him £14,800. Just another week at the office.

PARTYPOKER.COM GRAND PRIX

The first “biggie” for the lads of the PDC is the £350,000 PartyPoker.com Grand Prix. Held in Dublin at the New Citywest Center the event matches 32 of the best dart players in the PDC against a double-start format that provides some interesting results. To hear the TV talkers tell it, a “double start” is akin to climbing Kilimanjaro in “flip-flops.” Heck, back in the day the ODC didn’t know any other game. It was all 301 double-start.

Here though it’s especially wild, particularly in the opening rounds where upsets flow like the pitchers of lager that adorn the tables of the playing venue. With a first round’s best-of-three-set format some strange things can, do and did happen. Seeds were falling like a politician’s promises after elected.

In a pre-taped interview Phil Taylor spoke about the pressures of being a world champion. “Adrian Lewis said to me the other day, ‘Everyone that plays me seems to play their best.’ I told him, well, you’re the world champion – you have to expect that. Everyone wants to beat the world champion.”

That wasn’t the case early on for John Part. Against Lewis, Part lost the first five legs while playing like a rank amateur. On the other hand Lewis, besides having four fingers and a thumb, played well. Part couldn’t get started. At one point he was 8 for 35 from the starting block. One TV talk person commented, “If this was a boxing match the referee would have stopped this by now.”

But… down 1 set to nil and 2-legs to nil something strange happened.

Playing for the match Lewis failed to capitalize on a 180-140 which gave Part his first leg. When Lewis missed three more for the match, Part converted to level the set. Lewis missed tops again for the match which allowed Part to hit double 16 for the set. With the match suddenly level Lewis seemed to regain some of his form when he opened with 160 on and a double top-double top finish. Part would take the next 3 legs to climax a stunning come back from the brink of defeat. Lewis snatched defeat from the arms of victory.

For Lewis, his trip to Ireland didn’t go well at all as he lost first round in both Players Championships before crashing out of the Grand Prix, which the ODC’s Pater always pronounced as if it were spelled “CK” at the end.

There were two other matches listed in the column titled “stunning comebacks.” Phil Taylor almost joined that group but he came back from 1 down to win. The winning darts were delivered in typical Taylor fashion. With the match tied in sets and with Taylor ahead 2-1 in the third and final set, Peter “Snake Bite” Wright was ready to strike. Taylor needed 164. Hmm. Triple 20, triple 18 and dead bull. Game over. That’s one Snake that St. Phil chased out of Ireland. Thank you very much. The ODC emailed a Palette, as she can’t watch darts at work, “Taylor won it with a 164 finish.” Her reply? “Well that’s what he does.”

The rap on Scot Gary Anderson is that he sometimes fights his head when things don’t go well. Things were going swimmingly when Anderson took the opening set 3-0 against late qualifier Richie Burnett. Many forget or didn’t know that 15 years ago Richie Burnett was World Champion.

Burnett started the second set by jumping to a 2-nil lead which Anderson would level but then he missed darts at 16 and 8. Burnett converted to take the set. After a 13-darter by Anderson he took 6 to start the next leg – and that went to Burnett. Burnett used a 180 to take the next leg and move just one step from victory. Anderson needed 161 and darn near got it missing only the finishing bull. A double 10 put Burnett in the next round and sent the “Flying Scot” flying home.

ROUND TWO

How does one become a pal of the ODC with all the duties and responsibilities that the title carries with it? Not easy to answer but two joined the group during the Grand Prix. Neither knows nor probably give a rat’s posterior.

Defending Champion James Wade came from the brink of elimination as he was 2 sets down in the race to 3 against Vincent van der Voort. In his post match interview he said, “We always go to Nando’s after every game.” That was it for the ODC. Next to Miller Genuine and a cigar the ODC loves Nando’s chicken. Really spicy.

First time the ODC tasted Nando’s chicken he was staying in Earl’s Court for the World Masters. Following a night of many pints at the Cock’s Inn he stopped by Nando’s and ordered the “spicy.” The Underground took the ODC back to his rented hovel called the Blue Moon. (“Small Bed – No Breakfast”) Like starving Armenians, they were big during WWII. He devoured the savory meal. Awakening the next morning he had his usual yawn and a really good man scratch. Nando’s spicy should come with a warning. “Men… if eaten at night don’t man scratch in the morning.”

Andy “The Pie Man” Smith also joined the ODC Pal Bunch. Now it could have been for his 3-1 win over 5-time World Champion Raymond van Barneveld who appeared to be disinterested as he sometimes does. Smith joined the “ODC Pal Bunch” when the Old One realized his walk on music was Weird Al Yankovic singing “Eat It” which Michael Jackson sang as “Beat It.” “The Pie Man” and “Eat It” – Right on!

Writing of which the ODC was enjoying pints of lager at his local, The Sporting Chance, served by the mixologist with the flashing eyes and bouncing bodacious personality, when a rather drunk young man with his hat on sidewise and a tall can of Bud Ice clutched in his hand staggered in. That would be the 24 oz. NBA size. He sat two seats away from the ODC who was deep in musing about which at least one female off duty bartender considered starring. She should be so lucky. When confronted by said person he answered “In your dreams.” The ODC lives in his own world.

“Chief, what do you think of Michael Jackson?”

As he was musing the ODC ignored the comment. The young man with the sidewise hat and big beer, figuring that the ODC’s hearing was gone, asked the question again even louder.

“WHAT DO YOU THINK OF MICHAEL JACKSON?”

“He’s dead.”

“NO, what do you think of Michael Jackson?”

“He was a pedophile.” End of conversation.

With Smith and Wade facing off in the next round the ODC would strike a neutral pose. Wes Newton went through the first round in great form. His play nudged some of the wise guys to tout him making the finals. Big John Henderson – he’s called that because he’s big (terribly clever those Brits) – jumped to an early 2-0 lead against Newton only to find himself tied. With the match level Henderson had a 2 legs to nil lead when he missed a double 16 allowing Newton to keep the match alive. Newton then needed 7 darts to start which was a head start Smith would develop into double tops for the win.

Northern Ireland’s Brendan Dolan had his way with John Part 3-1.

This would be a good time to toss some kudos to Eric Bristow. As most know, Sid Waddell is out of action for the time being battling cancer. With a TV void Eric Bristow was called into action. He was GREAT. Unlike many he didn’t babble, filling the viewer with useless information – such as a player likes “beacon sandwiches with A-1” or what their favorite movie is.

Bristow: “People like to watch to see the pros miss darts. It’s proves they’re human.”

Simon Whitlock proved that when he went down 3-1 to 80-1 shot Mark Hylton. Level at 1 set Hylton used 160 on-57-280-80 and done for a 2 to 1 lead. Hylton’s winning leg came when Whitlock was left with 6. Rather than go after the double 3 he tried the old 2-double 2. Whoops, hit the 15 giving Hylton a shot at double tops which he erased with one. “Never take a shot that eliminates a double.”

The highlight of this round was Phil Taylor against Paul Nicholson. Por Que? Quote the self-proclaimed Bad Boy, “When he plays me he better bring his “A” game or I’ll put him to bed.” Taylor answered with “When he’s won 10 World Championships then he can open his mouth.” Eric Bristow on Nicholson, “He’s a nobody. He’s taking on the man.” Following the 3-0 drubbing Nicholson had a body part that closely resembled a Hamadryad Baboon. Nicholson’s mouth wrote a check his butt couldn’t cash. Nicholson said he would spin Taylor up. So he sat on stage cross-legged, aka Zen-like, during the introductions. Asked if it that bothered him, Taylor said, “No. I didn’t see it. He was going to spin me up? I’ve had Lowe, Gregory, Bristow, Wilson and Whitcomb try. They were the best and that didn’t bother me.” He did admit that Bristow got to him but then, hell, Bristow got to everyone especially those that didn’t have to play him. Taylor took the first set 3-1 with a Shanghai out which for you electronic darters is 120. Taylor took the next two sets with “RE” (ridiculous ease) yielding only two legs.

Denis “The Heat” Ovens’ run ended when Richie Burnett moved on with a 3-1 win. Rod Harrington, doing the TV chatting, kept making references to the fact that Ovens doesn’t smile. Not. Every time the ODC buys him a beer he smiles. So that means he’s smiled at least 4 times in 25 years.

8 to 4

I don’t know why they call it the quarter finals? Does that mean you win a quarter of the finals’ check? Of course not. If you win you still haven’t won anything – you’re just assured of a bigger payday. I always have to think how many is there in a quarter finals? Isn’t 8 to 4 half? Why don’t they call it the half finals? No wonder Andy Rooney retired from CBS.

The scores from the quarter final matches of the Grand Prix were 4-1, 4-2, 4-0 and 4-2.

“Big” John Henderson had one of the better “walk through the crowd deals” that started with Big Bad John (Jimmy Dean) and then cleverly segued into Rockin’All Over The World by John Fogerty who was an original member of Credence Clearwater Revival along with the ODC’s college pal Stu Cook. At that time CCR were called the Pollywogs when they played at the Friday afternoon beer bust at the old frat house. John Henderson was rockin’, taking the first set 3-0. Then Brendan Dolan returned the favor (3-0) and took the next three by 3-2 scores for the win. It was a by far the best match of the night.

Facing Northern Ireland’s Dolan will be the reigning champ James Wade whose 4-2 win over Andy “The Pie Man” Smith sets one semi-final. Sometimes the final score isn’t a real indicator of the match. That was the case here as Wade jumped ahead with scores of 3-1 and 3-0 with The Pie Man leveling with sets of 3-1 and 3-1. Wade got the last two by scores of 3-2. Wade is always candid in post match interviews. “I’m moving along under the radar – people like to talk about the Phil Taylors, the Adrian Lewises and Gary Andersons and I’m just going about my business. My starting has been brilliant but I’ve a bit of work to do with my finishing if I’m going to go all the way.”

The other semi final was set up when both Phil Taylor and Richie Burnett cruised. Taylor by a 4-nil (3-0, 3-2, 3-0, 3-1) whitewashing of Mark Webster and Burnett over Mark Hylton 4-1 with sets of 3-2, 2-3, 3-1, 3-0, 3-1.

CINDERFELLA?

There were two potential “Cinderfellas” in this year’s Grand Prix. Late qualifier Richie Burnett and Brendan Dolan both qualified for the title. Neither was expected to reach the second round led alone the semi-finals. Maybe this would be the round where the clock would strike 12. Well it did for Richie Burnett as he had to face Phil Taylor losing 5-2. Taylor accentuated his dominance in this one with a 164-check to win the match.

The night though would belong to Brendan Dolan who, when the clock struck midnight, found the shoe still fit. The 38-year-old from Northern Ireland, although he plays his darts in the Republic, didn’t have to ride anywhere in a pumpkin. He eliminated the reigning Grand Prix champion and world #3 James Wade 5-2. Dolan would lose the first set 3-1 showing the nerves that can only come from a major TV event. He righted the ship in spectacular fashion in the second set.

Dolan opened the first leg of the second set with a 160-on. Then came a 180 and a 161 finish for the first-ever nine-darter in the double-start tournament – earning him a £5,000 bonus. That set off Dolan winning four sets in the race to five. James Wade was a bystander with his “bemused” James Wade smile that said, “Oh heck” or words to that effect.

THE GRAND FINAL

“Greatness or pre-eminence is a concept heavily dependent on a person’s perspective and bias. The term can be used to emphasize perceived superiority of a person or thing.” The genesis of this writing comes from John the Baptist as he was speaking about God. It is with no hesitation that the ODC writes the same about one Philip Douglas Taylor. “In the presence of ” is what an overflow crowd of well lubricated Irishman at the New Citywest Convention Center was. They had come to cheer local favorite Brendan Dolan as they should have. In true “well lubricated Irishman fashion” they also felt inclined to boo Taylor at ever chance. They must be the Philadelphia of Europe. Philadelphia once booed Santa during the Christmas Season.

The Irish and Ireland were explained in Sunday’s HBO series “Boardwalk Empire.” Irish born Margaret Schroeder, the main squeeze of principle character “Nucky” Thompson asked her maid:

“Were you born in Ireland dear?”

“No Miss, I was born here in the United States.”

“Good, if you would have been born in Ireland you would have left.”

Maybe those that left Ireland landed in Philadelphia, at least the well lubricated ones. It was not necessary to be full of “aiming fluid” to “have a go” during the Taylor 6-3 win over Brendan Dolan. TV announcers constantly “informed” the viewers that “Taylor’s not on his game. The old Taylor would have hit that.” That is pure unadulterated bologna. He’s played in the finals of 67 major events winning 63 and losing only four. His loses came at the hands of all-time greats and Hall of Fame members Rod Harrington, Bob Anderson, Raymond van Barneveld and John Part. In darts there are no style points as a “win is a win” except when you get a “yakking” job on TV.

Brendan Dolan played well with moments that brought the crowd to full roar. His 170 check was one of those moments. Early on Dolan had two chances to level the match only to fall by 3-2 scores. “Taylor’s dominance of the double-start tournament continued as he won back the £100,000 title in style to claim his third successive major, as he followed up the summer’s triumphs in the World Matchplay and European Championship.”

The clock would strike midnight and Brendan Dolan would still be the “Cinderfella” of the Grand Prix. The shoe might not fit but with £55,000 he can buy his own shoes thank you.

If “In the fall a professional darts player turns his thoughts to money,” then Dolan turned dreams into reality. Phil Taylor can opine, “The report of my death was been greatly exaggerated.”

DOUBLE OUT

No “Tales of the ODC” this time. Instead is the news flash that the ODC has withdrawn his rather stylist fedora from the presidential primary. He had vowed that he would take no money from special interests. As such he had no money, no support and no hope.

Another in a similar situation but who stayed in, although hardly anyone knows, is former Governor of Louisiana Buddy Roemer. A little known fact is that he’s the former Uncle-in-Law of former International dart star Keith Waddoups. Waddoups, pronounced “Wha Doops,” once visited the Rancho de Martinez.

The first day he trimmed the brushes around the house, vacuumed the house and then walked two miles to buy groceries. He was invited back to finish scraping the paint from the garage door. This was a project started by The Hawk from the Blue Lagoon who babysat the Rancho while the ODC was away.

“I was going to repaint your garage door and surprise you when you got home. I got tired.”

“No problem,” replied the ODC, “You surprised me.”

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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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