Column #HR89 Songkran – and redefining the term “arch rival”

Saturday, April 13, 2013
Column HR89
Songkran – and redefining the term “arch rival”

Songkran is celebrated in Thailand usually from April 13th to the 16th.

One might axe, “So your point is?”

The point is that Toeing the Oche has a plethora of fans in the Land of Smiles who will be celebrating without the Old Dart Coach this year. So to Tim’s, Bourbon Street, The Irish Times, Don’s Bar-B-Que and The Island Lager Bar (and its G’vnor Mr. David “NY” Brook) the ODC apologizes for the hit to your economy (but comfortable with the knowledge you’ll survive without him). Barely.

Darters have their own Songkran at almost every dart tournament. During Songkran people drink to excess, throw water, sometimes dance and have a great time. Hell, if you think about it that pretty much describes a dart tournament – with darts replacing water. Like their Thai brethren the term “dance” is used loosely as many times it resembles “walking to music.”

The latest darting event was held at the Tuscany Casino in Las Vegas. It was designated as New World Dart Series #2. NWDS Numero Uno (a little Se Habla lingo) was held in Dayton, Ohio which unlike Las Vegas one would not call a “designation city.” The ODC made a rare personal appearance. He was over the moon that the Tuscany had lowered beer to $2.75. The Dart God did it. Her name is Patty. “She works in mysterious ways.”

With an ego as fragile as a Flora Danica dinner plate ($1,500 price tag) the ODC fell deep into his cups. He whined, “I felt like Ricky Nelson at Madison Square Garden in October of ’91.”

Of that experience Ricky Nelson wrote the song Garden Party. The ODC wept as he heard in his head the long gone Nelson sing an updated ODC version.

I went to a darting party to reminisce with my old friends.
A chance to share old memories and play some darts again.
When I got to the darting party, some even knew my name
No one recognized me, I didn’t look the same.

Upon further editor-ordered review Mary Joe did recognize him saying, “You look the same.” Which is either good or bad.

Tim Nicoll, who reached the top 16, also recognized him. Before we get cards and letter there is no “H” in Nicoll. As the late Bill Nicoll Sr. once opined – he did opine good – “We got the ‘H’ kicks out of us along time ago.”

Seeking a boost to his sagging ego the ODC stopped at Sporting Chance. The Sporting Chance is the Cheers of North Las Vegas…. well kinda. There the ODC’s frail psyche took another hit. The first words from the Latino bartenderess were, “Hi… where’s Linda?”

His proud name was now reduced to “Where’s Linda?”

The NWDS is an attempt at a PDC pro style event here in the Colonies. Stacy Bromberg took the ladies’ crown 6-5 – could have gone either way but you figured that out – over NWDS #1 winner Paula Murphy. Bromberg enhanced her bank account by $1,600 with Ms. Murphy cashing in for $800. “Daddy Wags” Darin Young took the gents’ event worth $4,400 by beating Canadian Dan Olsen. Olsen took home $2,200. The next NWDS event will be in N’awlins where the “good times roll and roll and roll.”

Two of the many challenges that face any person or persons aiming to run a darting event in a professional manner are having the “want to” and being able to tell darters to “STFU.” Darters hit doubles and triples but this doesn’t translate into tournament running knowledge. The ODC was reminded of this when running the Thailand Open in 2011. The experience is a lot like herding cats or dancing with snakes.

The PDC hyped its Premier League night when they cut down from 10 players to 8 as Judgment Night. Some know that before he was the ODC he was the Young Rodeo Guy. Each year there’s an event at every ranch in the world that could be called Judgment Time. That’s when boy calves become designated “other.” In horse racing it’s called the “ultimate equipment change.” On the range it’s called the “nut cutting.” Would the Premier League’s rating have been higher if they had called their night “The Nut Cutting” rather than Judgment Night? NO EYE DEAR

Four players were in the danger of being sent packing. Shirley – don’t call me Shirley – this would be the time when Adrian Lewis, Simon Whitlock, Wes Newton or Gary Anderson would step forward to win their way into the top eight.

Didn’t happen as Lewis got drilled by Barney 7-2 and James Wade sent Anderson packing while Michael van Gerwen gave Simon Whitlock a hiding, both by 7-3 scores. Only Wes Newton put up a semblance of a struggle. Newton was tied at 3 with Andy Hamilton with the darts. Newton opened T80 which Hamilton answered with a barrage of high scores to settle on 48 with Newton at 128. Newton nailed a pair of treble 18’s but missed the double 10 for the leg. Hamilton went 16, 16 and double 8 for the leg.

At 3-5 down Newton used a T80 and double 10 for 4-5. Against the darts Newton had a shot to level at 5 missing double tops. Newton kept alive his hopes with a nifty 102-check on D16 – and chance for a draw still on the table. The draw would have moved him ahead of Whitlock and earned a place in the Elite 8. Hamilton started with T80 as Newton could only manage 30 and 45 which he never overcame losing 7-5 and out. He’ll join Gary Anderson on the outside looking in.

The previous week in a Premier League “dream match-up” Phil Taylor took on Raymond van Barneveld. The two gentleman have for a number of years dominated the PDC. There have been some bumps in the road supplied by John Part, James Wade and Adrian Lewis but for the most part Taylor and Barney have been the names that appeared on the marquee. In this case the “marquee” was the sign and not a tent as the “tea and crumpet set” use the word. Taylor-van Barneveld are usually billed as “arch rivals”…

During the latest meeting between these “arch rivals” Wayne Mardle, PDC TV commentator, set the record straight, “In the Premier League they have met 15 times. Taylor has won 14 and there was one draw.” Overall Taylor is 46-11-1. One should reevaluate the term “arch rival.” One could consider this a rivalry only if one would thought a “hammer and a nail” a rivalry.

There is no rival to Songkran but a night or day of darting comes darn close. Keep that spirit alive. Stay thirsty my friends.

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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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