Column #HR106 Going Home

Monday, January 27, 2014
Column HR106
Going Home

Thomas Wolf wrote the highly acclaimed novel “You Can’t Go Home Again.”  For the dart player who has traveled the world playing darts while helping the sponsor’s meet bar guarantees a visit to any dart tournament is “going home.”

Every tournament in the world, from the very largest to the smallest “punkin roller,” has an energy and vitality of his own.  While each is unique in its own way they are all similar.  If any government could harness those forces their major cities would be aglow with lights 24/7.

The past weekend the Old Dart Coach had a chance to go “home again” to the Las Vegas Open.  The tournament itself was probably a huge success as it started off with over 400 people in Friday night’s blind draw.  Like most all tournaments it didn’t start on time but with bars well stocked no one seem to care.

Mary Payne use to run the now gone Golden Gate Classic in Northern California.  She ran it with a velvet glove that belied an iron hand and will.  At the time, the Golden Gate Classic was part of the England invasions’ swing through the Colonies.  It would be Washington D.C., the Golden Gate, Santa Monica and then the North American.

“They came, they saw and they conquered.”  We, their Loyal Subjects, would say thank you as they traveled home with  all our cash, a goodly supply of food from our homes and sometimes our now lost forever “true loves.”  The Dart God, being English, decreed  it.

If Mary Payne said the tournament would start at 9:30 on a Saturday morning that’s when it started.  The first year when she started on time some stragglers were caught off guard.  One group arrived about 9:45 just as they were receiving their third and last call.  They complained to Mary – “…but tournaments never start on time.”

“Mine do.”

End of story.

One of the pleasures of visiting a tournament is the chance, maybe, to run into some old pals – to share a few war stories, maybe a cocktail or two and reminisce about the “old days.”  For the ODC the Las Vegas Open afforded a reunion with world darting stars Dave Kelly and David “The Duck” Miller.  Both gentleman are legends in darts although it’s doubtful either considers themselves as such.  There can be no argument but that in their day they were at or damn near the top.  “The Duck” may well have been the best young player, along with Stefan Lord, ever in the world.  His troubles were off the oche as happens in any sport.  Miller is now five years clean and sober, the result of his great will power and, as he will say, “The Grace of God.”

Dave Kelly is Dave Kelly.  Highly talented, full of fun with a million stories, most all of them true.  It was a three way “chin wag” about everything but the state of the economy and the price of tea in China.  At a dart tournament who the hell cares about the economy or the price of tea in China?

As the ODC sat musing over a half full bottle MGD he listened with eyes closed to the sounds.

A word of warning here if one is a little over the speed limit in a school zone, age wise, while musing: don’t close your eyes too long or someone will say, “Sir are you alright?”

The sounds of a tournament today are the same as they were 20 years ago.  The same clatter, the same questions and the same joy of  being.  The Las Vegas Open had a full table of players from Japan chattering as they have want to do.  Another table was full of players from Finland.  One in  particular stood out with magenta colored hair with gender to be determined at a later date.

Then there was darting royalty or what passes for it, those that love the spotlight and shine in it.

Many remember the late Lil Coombs who to the ODC typified English darting  royalty.  Lil looked like an English schoolmarm – always proper, always polite but one hell of a great darts player.  She was always a lady – that even when the England  King changed the rules for world rankings so she wouldn’t be #1.  Yea they did those things.

America has Maggie Martell whose “schoolmarm looks” and pleasant nature belies a great darts player.  It should be noted for the record that for the ODC there is no one he loves to tease more than Margret Martell.  One of these days he may actually win a battle of wits with her, although doubtful.

When she was called to play women’s singles cricket he wandered over, with full MGD, for a look see.  For the record, the ODC agrees with the description of cricket made some years back. “ It’s like masturbation. Kinda fun if you’re playing but not good watching.”  That statement was made before internet porn where you can call up “Flap Jack’s 8” on demand.

White haired Maggie – she said the hell with dye a few years ago – was playing a pleasant young lady who some said was from the San Diego area.  Maggie took the first leg which must have angered the lady.  Her first three darts in leg two were, 1, double 20 and triple 20.  There is usually a point in any match when you throw a stupid dart or darts.  When the young lady did she lost concentration.  Maggie got back in the leg and won.  As women often do – they have so much more class than most men – there was nothing but pleasantries after.  The young lady with two male friends exited the area.

As the ODC sat with Maggie and Bob, he mentioned that probably within an hour the defeated lady and her two friends would be pounding down shots at the casino bar.  She might mutter, “I can’t &^%$#*& believe that I let that old lady beat me.”  The ODC explained to Maggie, “I’d love to go down to the bar and point out that.. that old lady has beat up on a lot of ladies and will continue to do so for a long time.”

The trip “home’ for the ODC was great.  He did prove the point that Thomas Wolf was full of shit.  Sure you can go home again.  For a darter any darts tournament is home.  Granted the home is now populated by different people but still home.

True, like Ricky Nelson, when he returned to Madison Square Garden, the ODC didn’t look the same, some couldn’t  remember his name, some didn’t recognize him, while some just flat didn’t care.  Just another old codger nursing a bottle of MGD.

Ricky Nelson’s visit to the Garden yielded one of the great song’s of all time “Garden Party.”  The ODC’s visit to the 2014 Las Vegas Open, besides proving that Thomas Wolf is full of beans, yielded this column.  Let’s call it a draw.

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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