Column #HR80 The Little Man

Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Column HR80
The Little Man

In 1899, the poet Hughes Mearns wrote “Antigonish” better known as “The little Man that Wasn’t There.” He wrote:

Yesterday, upon the stair,
I met a man who wasn’t there
He wasn’t there again today
I wish, I wish he’d go away…

Golfer Sir Nick Faldo talked about the “little man” on his shoulder. Faldo was explaining what happens when things go good and when things go bad.

“When you’re going good he tells you, ‘go on you can do it.’ When you’re struggling he says, ‘You’re on your own.’ Sir Nick added, “They say it’s bests to think about nothing. But you’re always thinking.”

Many years ago, the not yet very old Dart Coach asked a top player:

“What are you thinking when you play?”

“Nothing,” was his answer.

Upon reflection, to this particular person “nothing” was probably the total extent his being as his IQ matched his dart weight. In darts that “little man on your shoulder” sometimes manifests itself physically as the “yips.” Mentally, something prevents you from physically closing the deal.

Raymond van Barneveld, according to some, had developed a case of the “yips” as he’d been blanked in majors since the Las Vegas Desert Classic back in “ought 7.” His “maple syrup in January” smooth throw was still there except he wasn’t winning. The Grand Slam of Darts, a round robin first round event, was an unlikely occasion for Barney to escape the “snyder” – even more so as he lost his opening match to newcomer and fellow Dutchman and BDO Lakeside Champ, Christian Kist 5-4. A single isn’t a catastrophe but the way he did it didn’t bode well for the tournament as he missed 3 darts to win.

“Poor Old Barney, he’s gone off.”

“He’s no longer “The Man” in Holland. The mantel’s been passed.”

Despite what the naysayers were “naysaying” Barney eventually advanced to meet another fellow Dutchman, Michael van Gerwen, in the finals. He opened with a T80. He built a 3-2 lead to 6 –2 . The next 3 would go to van Gerwen as Barney missed doubles. Barney would expand his 6-5 lead to 8-5 and eventually 10-7.

It’s when it became 12-9 that things got a little tense…

Van Gerwen narrowed the lead to 12-10 with a 170-check for the fourth time in the tournament. It was 12-11 for Barney when he took out 95 in two against the darts for 13-11. That became 14-11 with 18-60 and double 16 – which is 110 out on anyone’s out chart. van Gerwen held with a 74-finish. Barney got to 15 –12 with a 13-darter. van Gerwen held for 15-13 giving Barney the darts for the win…

Now in present tense…

Barney wants 80 for the match. Two 20s glide in as if laser-guided only to miss with the third at double tops.

Having used T40 to leave 88, van Gerwen fails to convert after hitting the triple 20-nothing then fat 14 leaving 14.

Barney still wants tops. Misses.

Then unexplainably, except for “the little man,” he hits a FAT 5 and a 3 to leave 32. The look on van Barneveld’s face is one of “Kanker me” which translates to “I don’t believe this” or something close.

van Gerwen hits double 7 to move within one leg at 14-15 with the darts.

Throwing first, van Gerwen tosses a 171 to leave 36 after 12 darts – which would win most legs anywhere… but in this case Barney wants only 46 after 9 with T40-T38-T77.

Fourteen, double 16, leg, match and “How do you like me now?”

Guess the “little man” changed sides!

Pure raw emotion accompanied by a stream of tears running down Barney’s cheeks said it all. The moment defined – far more than the £100,000 about to be deposited in his bank account – what sport is all about. Always a gentleman, he’d heard the rumor’s about his demise and suffered in silence. His Orange Army never gave up nor did he. For one day he was back on top. Only time will tell how long it last. But with “the little man” on his side… watch out!

Michael van Gerwen was brilliant throughout the tournament. He played on another level almost from another planet. His appearance would also lend creditability to that theory. van Gerwen outscored Barney in the finals 98.55 to 95.79 which might have been the first time in the Grand Slam that van Gerwen averaged under 100. His match against Phil Taylor was an all time classic. It was said of Taylor after that match, “He’s over the hill.”

The physical “yips” are as apparent as Charles Barkley’s golf swing – not so the “mental yips” which are manifested by the unseen pest, the “little man” who always shows up at crunch time. Barney made the “little man” his. The announcers following Taylor’s defeat to van Gerwen were acting as if they were writing a obit for someone simply gone away. They were “over the moon” at this passing of the mantel. It had been 2,016 days since van Gerwen had last beaten Phil Taylor.

Relax you modern Philistines, the walls are not crumbling but some cracks have appeared in the great wall of Taylor. van Gerwen won the match 10 legs to 5 while averaging an astounding 108 .38. So then Taylor’s a wanker? No way Jose. Taylor averaged 104.88 which was the third highest average of anyone in the tournament. van Gerwen also had a 106.

Then what did Taylor in? Two things. van Gerwen tossed 7-180 to Taylor’s none with 5 of those maximums coming to start a leg. Still Taylor could have overcome the scoring but for the bull.

A throw for the bull, off stage, determines who throws first in the odd numbered legs. So win that, hold serve, and win. Taylor won the bull. With the match tied at four Taylor, with the throw, missed the bull for a 167-check. Game van Gerwen.

At 5-4 van Gerwen, Taylor uses 177 to set up a shot at bull which he misses. Game van Gerwen.

Taylor misses the bull at 7-4 but van Gerwen doesn’t.

Taylor has one last gasp but misses double 16 and the match 10-5.

Taylor from 4-all has four first double darts that don’t connect, three of them bulls.

Like the reluctant cow Taylor must be crying “don’t bring on the bull.”

Every great player goes through periods when “the little man” is whispering negative thoughts in the ear. We know this “person” has to be male because a women would never doubt or give advice to a man.

North America’s contribution to the PDC, former World Champ John Part, “has had a little rough spot lately.” Things may be a changing as Part reached the top 8 before going out to Andy Hamilton 16-12, who then exited to Barney 16-10 in the semis. Part emerged from his group beating world champion Adrian Lewis and Tony O’Shea, losing 5-4 to Gary Anderson. Anderson sported a “new” darts shirt that made the ODC smile. ‘Twas Gary’s coat of many colors.

During the walk on for the Part-O’Shea match the ODC was inspired by the O’Shea walk on music and the crowd’s singing of same…

“Hey Baby… I wanna know… know will you be my girl.”

So inspired… he stood up and joined the crowd in singing his baby heart out with a little dancing tossed in for good measure. There are times when the ODC will stand up, sing and dance. Usually it’s “YMCA” which he did recently at a Las Vegas Locomotives UFL football game. The league folded shortly after. The “little man” on his shoulder suggested a beverage. The ODC went for a rum and orange. He did discover that one of the side effects of rum and orange is that is appears to be a cure for erectile dysfunction.

When last heard from he was reciting the following poem:

Yesterday, upon my chair,
I met a man who was there
He was there again today
I wish, I wish he’d never go away…

The ODC will have a very HAPPY THANKSGIVING! You have one too.

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