Column #HR92 The world was Barry’s. He just let us live in it.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Column HR92
The world was Barry’s. He just let us live in it.

Mention the name William Shatner and the image of James T. Kirk, captain of the USS Enterprise on Star Trek, comes to mind or maybe even an older Shatner doing commercials for Priceline.com. Lately Shatner has been walking the boards on Broadway with his one-man show “Shatner’s World: We Just Live in It”.

One theater reviewer wrote, “The octogenarian actor – here making his first Broadway appearance in a half-century – is such an engagingly hammy and funny raconteur that only the most curmudgeonly will begrudge him this celebration of his life and career.”

If the same reviewer were to write of “Mercurial” Michael van Gerwen he might use the same words leaving out “engagingly hammy” and “funny raconteur.” That aside, the world of professional PDC darts is Michael’s world now and he is just letting others inhabit his space. Not since Phil Taylor came to prominence in the 1990’s has one player so completely laid waste to the best in the sport. It’s locus thru the cornfield with nary a seagull in sight.

Like Genghis Khan (1162-1227) van Gerwen is taking no prisoners. Khan conquered all forming the Mongol Empire which included most of Eurasia which today would include Crapistan, Garabagisstan and Idontgivearatsassisstan. Van Gerwen has conquered the PDC this year starting with a runner-up to Phil Taylor in the 2013 PDC World Championships. Then the fun began – five 5 UK Qualifier wins that were table setter’s of things to come.

During Premier League play van Gerwen finished top of the table then laid an ass-kicking on Phil Taylor 10-8 in the final at the 02 Arena. On his way to the win and £150,000 van Gerwen took out James Wade 8-4 by protecting leads of 5-1 and 7-2. During the time when Phil Taylor was golden, which may not be over yet, his great talent was to storm to an early lead, take a breath letting the opponent get close and then slamming the door.

In the Premier League final Taylor came from 0-1 down to lead 4-2 which became 5-2 with a 11-darter. van Gerwen’s 14 darter got one leg back which became two when Taylor missed double 18 and 9. That became 5-all when van Gerwen hit back-to-back 180s and Taylor missed three at tops. van Gerwen got the score to 7-5 when Taylor missed more doubles. When van Gerwen missed two at double 15 Taylor erased 65 to move within one.

Taylor would level at 7 when van Gerwen passed up a dart at the bull to leave 32. Taylor leveled with a 160-check.

Van Gerwen answered with 180, 140 but missed three at tops. Taylor never gets a shot as van Gerwen took out tops with the first dart of his next handful. The new Dutch Master got to within one leg from victory when Taylor missed double 16 and 8. Taylor got to 8-9 with a 72-finish after van Gerwen missed a pair at double 8. After 12 darts Taylor wanted only 40 but van Gerwen took out 132 on the bull for the win.

Following the match Taylor would say “He deserved to win and I’ll go back and work hard for the next tournament now. I’m after him!”

That didn’t happen as the next up was the first ever Dubai Duty Free Darts Masters with a tasty $250,000 up for the eight invited players. A funny thing happened to Taylor on his way to catch van Gerwen. Taylor lost to Andy Hamilton 10-8 being unable to hold a 4-1 lead. van Gerwen would take out Hamilton 11-9 as Raymond van Barneveld erased James Wade 11-5 to reach the finals.

The all Dutch final had its high points with oodles of big outs. For Barneveld, who would lose 11-7, there was a 120, 124 and a 121 on the bull. For van Gerwen there was a 170 and 164. After losing the first leg van Gerwen would never trail although he was level at 6 via a Barney 121-finish. All in all van Gerwen had himself a great couple of days worth a little more than £182,000 (almost $275,000). How good is van Gerwen? Right now unbeatable.

While all this was going on the “elite” of the North America darting community were gathered in Chicago for the Bullshooter brought to you by Arachnid, Inc. – which paid out just south of $300,000. As used to be said of Virginias Slims, “You’ve come a long way baby.” Back in the day the big stop over Memorial Day was Dallas. Now it’s Chicago.

It’s little known fact that at an early Bullshooter the Old Dart Coach teamed with the late Bill Nichols to play pairs. This was at a time when “steel dart players” looked down their snouts at “soft or toy dart players.” Silly knaves. Also a little known fact is that the ODC may well be the greatest first leg player in the history of the game. If every match was one leg he would have been in the record book. He had Ronnie Baxter down one-nil and once beat the late Barry Twomlow by the same score (the ODC retired as fear took over).

In Chicago, Bill and the ODC drew two really good players from the Great Northwest – Spider Vorlek and Sonny Golder. They won the bull and threw first. The ODC playing second for his team went bull, bull, bull. Game Vorlek-Golder. Second leg same deal. ODC three more bulls and loses.

“Don’t worry we’ll get a second chance in the loser’s round.”

After a five hour wait they drew two gentleman from Christmas Island who were over the moon to be in Chicago. Tells you all you need to know about the Christmas Islands. It was Ground Hog Day in Chicago with an instant replay of the first match – out 2-0 with the ODC tossing 6 bulls.

The ODC felt like Mrs. Lincoln when after the play someone asked, “That a side Mrs. Lincoln how was the play?”

On this 29th of May 2013 the ODC and darters the world over look back on the passing of Barry Twomlow in 2004. It was said that Twomlow “taught the world to play darts.” Barry did a lot more. He taught players everywhere to act like professionals, to respect their fellow competitors and never forget that darts was a game invented for kids to play and have fun.

For Barry an individual’s wins or loses weren’t important. It was how players played the game of darts that mattered but, more importantly, how they played in life’s game. He had no truck for phonies, fakes or wannabes. He had a lot to share and did with all.

Barry Twomlow is missed everyday so let’s crack that Miller Genuine in his memory.

The world was Barry’s. He just let us live in it.

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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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