HR#115 Celebrating July 4th in England?

Wednesday, June 2, 2014
Column HR115
Celebrating July 4th in England?

When talking and writing about darts it’s always best to remember that the game comes from pubs (which the civilized call bars). As such, the darting community is similar to that found in most any  bar – a combination of interesting people, boors,  jerks, thinkers, and then those who take up space for no apparent reason other than they have to be somewhere.

Mr. David Brook, writing in the Phuket News – pronounced POO KET – provides a little dart history. Writing of the dartboard itself, “The numbering layout as used today was invented by a Lancashire carpenter, Brian Lamblin, in 1896.”  Old Brian did a heck of a job. Mr. Brook further explains, “The oche was named after the brewery S. Hockey and Sons.” His final piece of trivia? “The distance adopted for throwing was measured by three beer crates.”

Wikipedia presents another tale. They debunk the “theory” that the throw line was named for S. Hockey and Sons brewery in the West County based on the fact that, according to the Brewery History Society, there is no record of a S. Hockey and Sons. Kinda weak logic.  Of course, how “Hockey” became “oche’” is a mystery. Wikipedia believes the term Hockey “ becoming oche in the late 70s.” Ok Wik, if you know it became “oche” in the 1970s then why don’t you know why?

Another theory is that the term “Hockey” was first used for the News of the World Tournament in the 1920s. Then there’s the old English word “hocken” which means “to spit.” Therefore, the player was “spitting darts.” Might be worth a try.  In the end, The Old Dart Coach is going with Mr. David Brook with whom he’s shared many a pint.  Never shared a pint with Wikipedia. Can you trust one you’ve never shared a pint with?  Negatory.

The bar roots of the game explain the posting of a darter on Facebook…

“What’s up with some of the elite players being assholes? Just because you are better on the board doesn’t make you a god. (And then there’s) the stupid shit that their entourage does .”

That’s the bar background. Every bar has stars who think they’re clever, witty and fun to be around.

Recently, the ODC ventured to his local for a Friday evening pint.  Half way through the second or maybe third pint an off-duty female bartenders came in. She regaled the crowd with how drunk she had been the night before and how much fun it was to throw drinks and get tossed out of a Las Vegas strip casino. She did this in a voice that probably had dogs throughout the Vegas Valley howling.  As she worked her way around the horseshoe bar she came upon the ODC sipping his pint…

“People say I’m an asshole when I’m drunk, “she proudly announced.

Taking a puff on his cigar the ODC answered, “You don’t have to be drunk.” He left never to return… yet, as thirst is a tough battle to win.

Do the same thing at dart tournaments and action will be taken. But consider you’re just a one-timer maybe entering one or two events. The “jerk-star” travels from tournament to tournament and that money for the promoter.  Follow the “money trail.”

The bar atmosphere of a tournament can breed  animosity like a Kardashian breeds with a NBA player. The ODC played pairs with Davis L. Wilson for years. He first met Davis L. one summer afternoon at the Phoenix airport as both were waiting for baggage. At the time Davis L. was playing pairs with a Native American named Davy who he called Chief. After what seemed like forever waiting for luggage to appear out of a hole in the ground the ODC said,

“Will our bags ever appear?”

Davis L., without missing a beat, turned to his pair’s partner and said,

“Chief do a baggage dance.”

Davis L. and the ODC immediately became livelong friends.

Not only were they darting partners, they were known to share a beverage or twenty. At a local tournament and as they advanced, the “group tighter” and “aiming fluid” flowed in copious amounts. They drew a well known national player…

“He’s a cheater…” mumbled Davis L., “…he always brings his own chalker. He picks his darts out of the board, gives her a number, and she never looks at the board.”

As we warmed up for the opening leg Davis L. very loudly pronounced…

“She’s not chalking!”

“She” in this case being either a girlfriend or wife. We found a chalker and the game was on. We lost 2-0. Our chalker didn’t cheat. Damnit.

Facebook darters seem upset with the announcement that the PDC will hold a $15,000 Spectacular August 22-24 in Kingston, Ontario, Canada.  The reasons for the unhappiness seem to be the late announcement and location. PDC events have been more successful in Canada and it’s their money. End of story.

One Facebook dart poster pulled Yogi Berra with, “Why do the airlines have to be such assholes and jack the rates up so much in the summer that it’s impossible to afford to go anywhere!”

Because their planes are full of people?

Dave Whitcombe, known as the “Sage of Sittingbouane,” contradicts the theory that because darters are bar people they aren’t athletics. When asked about his exercise routine he answered, “I play chess near an open window.”

With the 4th of July upon us the ODC likes to recount one Independence Day spent with the late Barry Twomlow. Sharing a pint the ODC mused, “It’s the 4th of July – a big holiday here in the United States as were celebrate our freedom from England. Is it a big holiday in England ?”

“One of the biggest.”

“It is?”

“We celebrate getting rid of the likes of you.”

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.
Howie Reed

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