HR#113 RIP Billy Joe Clark

Tuesday, June 3, 2014
Column HR113
RIP Billy Joe Clark

The Old Dart Coach’s search for the ultimate Greek salad in Thailand and the Philippines caused some concern for one reader.  “I didn’t understand half of this, but I liked it a lot.  It’s much more like you used to write – funny, sad, (I’d put in poignant except that I can’t spell it), and entertaining.   More, more, more.”   The gentle lady was correct she couldn’t spell poignant but good old spell check came scrambling to the rescue.

The ODC, believing that truth is the best policy – as remembering lies is really hard work – must confess that he’s having trouble filling this space.  Many figured that out years ago.  Got a young “zipper snapper” now – 15-year-old Jamie “Jambo” Barron – covering the PDC in fine fashion which leaves the ODC writing about “back in the day.”  Nothing worse than a boring old coot/geezer.

As was not predicted here Raymond van Barneveld took the Premier League title with a rousing night of daring darting worth  £150,000.  The choice here was Phil Taylor who had Barney down  4-1 and then missed six darts to move up 5-2.  Barney then landed on Taylor like the toilets Phil use to mold taking 5 legs on the trot on the way to a 8-5 win.  In the final against Michael van Gerwen he only trailed once (0-1) on the way to a 10-6 win.  “This means the world to me – I can’t describe how happy I am,” said van Barneveld.  At least he didn’t say “I’m over the moon.”

F’ing moon orbits are a  little crowded.

In Dubai – where, at The Oasis, Arabs were eating their dates – Michael van Gerwen repeated in the Dubai Duty Free with a pair of  impressive wins of 11-7 over Adrian Lewis and Peter Wright in the finals.

“Impressive?”

“Did he win?”

“Yes.”

Then that’s impressive.

Oh yes, and  $50,000 ain’t too Chablis either, chilled or not.

It’s not surprising that Peter “Snakebite” Wright would be in the finals after dispatching Phil Taylor 10-5 in the opening round.  Old Snakebite has won three Players Championships this year.  He’s probably the best player currently not to have grown up in the Land of Wacky Tobacky or have the name of a mode of transportation as a middle name.

The nickname “Snakebite”?  Appropriate as darts originated and was nurtured in pubs. “Snakebite” is a drink made of equal parts lager and cider and maybe a dash of blackcurrant squash.  Maybe a better explanation is that Mr. Wright looks like something you might see after a few dozen.  Multi colored hair, tats, and other assorted adornments.  Maybe just commonplace in today’s pubs, although the ODC recently ventured down to his local, The Sporting Chance – which he calls the Happy Heifer Heaven – seeing no sights like Old Snakebite.

It’s always been a mystery why darts runs away from its roots.  It’s the pubs and the people in them that give the sport its gravitas.  Dart and pub folk are fun.

“Drunks?”

“A pain in the ass.”

Oz Taylor is a pub and dart person.  He writes fondly of introducing his own son to the joys of the pub.  “I was reading last night about fathers and sons.  Memories came flooding back of the time I took my son out for his first pint.  Got him a Fosters – he didn’t like it, so I had it.  Then I got him Carlsberg, he didn’t like it so I had it.  It was the same with Guinness and Cider.  By the time we got down to the whisky I could hardly push the bloody pram.”

Dave Whitcombe was a world class player and interesting as a world class pub whit.  He also has a big helping of common sense.

“To all them dart players who don’t go to work yet (but) want sponsorship to play darts I got a crazy idea.  How about getting a job and sponsoring yourself?  Just a thought.”

His constant foil is his wife Delph.  Whitcombe recently posted on FB…

“Yes the rumors are true.  I’m gonna remake Gladiator!”

This brought an instant response from Delph…

“Can you remake the tea first, it’s shit!”

It’s the Taylors, Vans, Lewises and Snakebites that grab the headlines but they’re only able to do so because of the Lowes, Bristows, Georges, Andersons, Wilsons and the millions of fans infected with the darts virus.  Like the sport, they’re a product of the pubs.

The world of darts lost a dear friend and fan recently.

Bobby Joe Clark was born and raised in Dallas, Texas. He served in the U.S. Navy, retired to start a second life, catching the “darts virus” along the way.  The ODC  met BJ in 1984 in Pattaya for the Thailand Open II.  BJ, the ODC, Dick Parke from Phoenix and Richard from France formed a 4-person team.  They lost 8 going to 4 in a round robin-format.  Okay, there were only 6 teams but they did beat three Italian brothers named Ivo, Evo, and Evil and a pregnant lady friend of theirs.

BJ was a lousy dart player but a great friend to dart players throughout the world.  Richard “Would You Like Some Chicken Dick? – “No I’d Rather Have a Breast” McGinnis remembers his first meeting with BJ in Virginia Beach…

“He didn’t know us but welcomed us to his home, cooked food,  provided drink  and couldn’t have been nicer.  He loved being around dart players.”

Mr. John Lowe remembers BJ.  “One of darts finest supporters and a good friend, BJ Clark, sadly passed away.  I first met BJ in Tokyo many years ago.  Our paths crossed many times, we shared a lot of darting talk, family talk and a few cold ones.  Our last meeting was in Bangkok in 2004.  We had a lot to talk about and we did until the early morning hours.  BJ always kept in touch and always cared for others.  A fine gentleman who will be missed.  Rest in peace my good friend.”

The odds are good that BJ is right now sharing a cold one with his pal Barry Twomlow in the Great Tungsten Heaven. They were friends with so much in common.  Love of family, darts and a nice beverage.  They may be replaced but never equaled.

While in Thailand the ODC noticed that his laundered t-shirts smelled good.  Not “smell good” to the point of singing Broadway show tunes while skipping down the street, but good.  Visiting his Geezer Specialist teller at the bank he asked her…

“What is it that makes the clothes smell good after washing?”

“Fabric softener.  I like Gain – it’s my favorite smell.”

The ODC immediately purchased said product.  There were many scents to choose from so the ODC either bought “Moonlight Breezier” or “Moonlight Geezer.”  The printing on the label was really small and he didn’t have his glasses.

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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