Column #HR98 Darts, the Circus and Clowns (the DRA)

Friday, September 13, 2013
Column HR98
Darts, the Circus and Clowns (the DRA)

Prompted by the query, “How does your mind work?” the Old Dart Coach mused. He was bewildered by the question (and highly offended by the term “work”) but he soldered on.

His mind wandered back to a book he devoured in his youth about the Ringling Brothers & Barnum Bailey Circus. Being addicted to darts he connected the dots equating the two (well, kind of)…

Like a circus, a darts tournament invades an empty venue – building a totally contained “city/state” – thereby becoming the center of the universe. Like a circus, when a tournament is over the venue is returned to its original state of emptiness and irrelevance.

The classic circus movie The Big Top depicts the circus moving from town to town with death defying acts, a cunning array of stunts, touches of humor, romance and even a bit of criminal activity. The attendees are beer types with nary an oenophilist in sight.

A dart tournament has its share of attractive people, clowns, near-death defying acts along with plenty of refreshment available with a sideshow just a step away. Both take care of their own with praise flowing and discipline lurking in the shadows.

Recently the PDC, the really big circus, sent James Wade to the “sin bin” for four PDC tournaments starting with the trip to Sydney Darts Masters.

His transgression? “James Wade was found to be in breach of rule 4.1 of the DRA (Darts Regulation Authority) Rules: ‘No Player or Member shall act in a manner which may reasonably be considered to injure or discredit the DRA or bring the game of darts into disrepute.'”

Before you ask if, say, CHEATING ON TELEVISION brings the game of darts into disrepute let the ODC state the obvious: NO, not if done by King Phil – at least, it would appear, according to the DRA. Maybe it should be renamed Down Right Arbitrary.

One darter describes the DRA thusly, “It is, after all, the DRA’s job to make sure all the muck gets raked. If they were farmers they would burn their crops, the barn and the farmhouse to stop an infestation.”

The DRA further explained that their action was the result of “a series of referrals to the Darts Regulation Authority relating to behavior.” With no one from the DRA willing to talk on the record one professional stepped forward with, “What looks like BS generally is, which is why I thought it was just a cover up for him not wanting to go to Australia – it also gets Nicholson in. He (Wade) expressed his displeasure with the format of the draws. He has had an unusually difficult draw for the past few years. He doesn’t want to go to Australia… or is really due to his negative comments about the UK Open during that event? Just guesses.”

When the PDC circus moved it’s “stars” to Sydney it was King Phil who emerged triumphant. On his way to another win (which probably sent him “over the moon”) Taylor dispatched Aussie’s number #1 Kyle Anderson 6-1, Aussie Paul Nicholson in the quarters and Aussie Simon Whitlock in the semis. Whitlock was down 4-1 and 8-2 before exiting stage right 10-6. If you’re keeping score for the event it was Taylor 3 – Aussie’s nil. Michael van Gerwen would fall 10-3 in the finals.

When the PDC Circus hit Germany – the Land of Brats, Beer and Bodacious Tatas – for the £100,000 German Darts Championship the first round saw the exit of former world champions Raymond van Barneveld, Adrian Lewis and John Part. With Taylor absent that left the center ring open your average touring player who are pretty darn good. Peter “Snake Bite” Wright with his assortment of “tats” (not to be confused with tatas) and more than wired hair style is a one man side show. His appearance belies the fact that on occasion this dude can flat out play spectacular darts.

He reached the final by bidding adieu to Richie Burnett (6-5). Dave Chisnall, called Chizzy, as the Brits are so clever with nicknames, has been touted as a center ring attraction for some time. He finally got a marquee win 6-2 win over Snakebite Wright that garnered £20,000.

It goes without saying that no circus would proceed without a Ring Master crying, “Ladies and Gentlemen… Boys and Girls of all ages… The Greatest Show on Earth!”

For darts, at least back in the day, it was, “Third and final call for Danny Pucillo – report to Board 73.”

The late Danny Pucillo never knew he had to visit the gents until the second call.

The last time the ODC played in the USA he and his playing partner drew a jerk who Toeing the Oche had previously identified as such. Of course it was just a coincidence that the ODC would draw said Jerk. It was also just a coincidence that said Jerk was given 20 minutes to show up for the match. Old habits die hard.

In 2011, the ODC was on the microphone calling matches at the Thailand Open. One half-pint drunken Scottish moron took offense to the ODC calling matches for one of the 36 boards while he was playing. The drunk approached the stage and challenged the ODC to a duel with fists. With a smile and a “FO” the ODC declined the offer. They later played a league match where the ODC prevailed 2-nil. Moral? If you lose to the ODC 2-nil you have a bad case of rabbit ears and a talent problem.

Long live Ring Masters that talk and tournament directors that don’t.

In The Mikado by Gilbert and Sullivan is Nanki-Poo singing, “The Flowers that bloom in the spring, Tra La.”

Both darts and the circus have more than their share of romance. Back in the day darts spring started with Houston at the Blue Bonnet ending in the December chill of Atlantic City. Romance seeds planted in Houston were nurtured in Sacramento, Boston, Chicago, Concord, Las Vegas and at stops in between. What started as mere flirtation bloomed into a full blown flower as the season wore on. Then came Atlantic City and like the final act of the circus year the words, “I love you dear but the season is over. Maybe I’ll see you next year.”

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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