Column #HR77 A glimpse of stocking” ain’t so “shocking” anymore

Monday, October 8, 2012
Column HR77
A glimpse of stocking” ain’t so “shocking” anymore

In olden days a glimpse of stocking
Was looked on as something shocking,
But now, God knows,
Anything goes.

Well isn’t that just the truth. Just the other night – as a celebratory gesture – the Old Dart Coach ventured to one his favorite eating establishments. It’s called the Panda Express where for just $6.34 one gets a choice of Chow Mien or Fly Lice along with two entrées. The Panda Express advertises “Authentic Chinese Cuisine” which is great especially when it’s served in a Styrofoam take away box served up by Rosetta, Camellia, Juanita, Jose or Linda. No idea how Linda got in the mix. On the latest trip to the Panda for “Authentic Chinese Cuisine” one of the entrées was Thai Chestnut Chicken. Anything goes.

That didn’t use to be the case in darts. For years the sport was ruled by an “Old Boy’s Club” that would make today’s North Korea look like a blooming democracy. Ladies? Seen and not to be heard. Useful for getting tea and toast with an occasional lager tossed in.

Long ago the ODC was hired to do the finals of an East Coast darts tournament. The format had the gents playing 501 straight start while the ladies played 401. From the stage the ODC opined that this was the 1980s and surely the “frail” ladies could play 501. The promoters informed the ODC that surely they could hold future tournaments without him.

Then America got a “glimpse of stocking” in the form of Machine Darts and the world of darts changed. The American Darts Organization (ADO) had a lock on leagues and tournaments. Arachnid and Medalist jumped in with both feet after a meeting in which the ADO suggested that Machine Darts could “eliminate waste up a rope.” Good call there.

Today the two major Machine Darts companies support leagues and tournaments. What would have been unthinkable – “shocking” – in “olden days” is now common place.

Now there’s even a “pro type” Order of Merit for North American steel professionals. The “unofficial” standings appeared in the ODC’s last column. They were slightly incorrect. Darren Young is still leading the pack but John Part is a clear second by $240 over Larry “The Bald Eagle” Butler. No harm no foul.

Astute readers will by now have recognized the opening lines to this column as words from the song “Anything Goes” from the stage play of the same name which debuted in 1934. It’s a Cole Porter effort that placed before the public some of the really great songs of all time. Another one of those songs was “You’re the Top” which in darts could be an description of one Philip Douglas Taylor.

You’re the top!
You’re the Coliseum.
You’re the top!
You’re the Louver Museum.
You’re a melody from a symphony by Strauss
You’re a Bendel bonnet,
A Shakespeare’s sonnet,
You’re Mickey Mouse.

That was especially true of the recently concluded European Championships where Taylor had perennially whipped the opposition like a “red headed mule” winning the four previous events. Not this time buckwheat. After a string of 24 straight wins Taylor bit the dust to Northern Ireland’s Brendan Dolan 10-6. There were signs of struggle in his first two matches but that’s Taylor’s usual MO. This time his sub-par play led to a defeat. He averaged only 89.99. Wanker!

“My form wasn’t good enough in my first two games as well as the quarter-final, but my preparation wasn’t good enough. I’m not happy with my form at all and I’ve got to up my game for the World Grand Prix in a couple of weeks.” DAH. In this case Taylor was more like Mickey Mouse than a Shakespeare sonnet or a symphony by Strauss.

As happens so often when a player beats Taylor, Dolan would lose his next match to pal Wes Newton 11-9 (but still collect £10,000). Newton would lose in the finals to Aussie Simon Whitlock who would collect his first major title and £50,000.

The event was shown on ESPN Europe and the coverage was excellent. Note to Sky TV: “copy ESPN production style.” It was covered like a sport, not ‘rasslin’.” To borrow an old ad phrase, slightly altered, “Sell the steak not the sizzle.”

A star was born, yet again, when John Part got behind the mike with excellent fresh insightful commentary. He’s “Eric Bristow-like” except you can actually understand what he says. His best line? On Phil Taylor: “Darts alchemy – turning tungsten into gold. I think only Phil has that secret.”

That glimpse of stocking for the PDC has lead down a number of different paths. They have developed major TV tournaments which support the PDC Players Tour that was only a dream not too long ago. They’ve made some missteps – most prominent was their ill-fated tournaments in the USA where they stacked the odds against the Yanks winning and then wondered why American darters gave them half a victory sign.

Europe may catch on at some point. A giant coup by the PDC – Barry Hearn and his Matchbook Sports – married darts with the English love of betting. It’s a marriage made in heaven with drinks before and cigarettes after.

The PDC then wedded darts and betting shops in a “live stream” event called Championship League Darts which can be viewed in 50 betting shops. It’s played in 8 separate stages, round-robin with the winner of each stage moving on to the November 1 finals.

The ODC-coached Ronnie Baxter “merged triumphant” in group three that included a 6-4 win over Phil Taylor. The ODC took Baxter to the woodshed after his elimination in 16 going to 8 in the Europe Championships: “Rocket it appears that during your ‘walk on’ you stopped along the way for an extended lip lock with a very attractive lady. Me thinks that maybe that action lasted a little too long, sapping your strength n the latter stages of the match.” Rocket takes coaching good.

Next up is another TV “major,” this one the Party Poker.com World Grand Prix worth a cool £350,000. The tournament commences today at the Citywest Hotel in Dublin. It’s a back to the future event with a 501 double start and finish – shades of the old North American held first in Culver City, then on the Queen Mary, and finally in Las Vegas. Northern Ireland’s red hot Brendan Dolan will be on almost home turf where last year he was runner up to Taylor while adding a 9-darter (the first ever televised nine-dart finish with a double start (160, 180, t20, t17, bull). The old North American saw two prefect 6-darters in one match. It was “Long” Dave Kelly who turned the trick. (Yes he was tall also.)

American dart fans can watch the Grand Prix on their computer by going to Justin TV starting at 11 a.m. PDT today through the final on the 14th.

Want to watch some good old American darts on your computer? No problemo mi amigo. The big $30,000 New World Series of Darts event from Dayton, Ohio will be streamed live October 12-14. Just go to Livestream. Ho Kay?

We sign off singing the praises of darts mainly because the ODC got a email from a very nice lady who wrote “Stay positive.” Knowing him, it won’t last long. So it’s more of Cole Porter’s “You’re the Top”…

You’re the Nile,
You’re the Tower of Pisa,
You’re the smile on the Mona Lisa
I’m a worthless check, a total wreck, a flop,
But if, baby, I’m the bottom you’re the top!

Stay thirsty my friends.

The following two tabs change content below.
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.

Leave a Reply