HR#119 Leo Durocher never met Leong Hwa

Monday, August 25, 2014
Column HR119
Leo Durocher never met Leong Hwa

Okay, lighten up. This will not be another “Old Geezer Tale.” The last effort in that direction brought a silence that was deafening. This effort will look at one Leong Hwa. Darts players around the world known him as Paul Lim. As an original member of the World Dart Council (WDC) – forerunner to the PDC – he was dubbed the “Singapore Slinger.”  A handle that gratefully never hung on.

The argument can and is made successfully that Lim is the best combined soft and steel point dart player the world. (Editor’s note: The argument was between the Old Dart Coach and himself so of course he won.)  Lim may not be the terror on the bristle board that he used to be but that can be attributed to his almost exclusive play in his current travels down the “soft point trail.” That sure doesn’t have the ring of the “tungsten trail.”

Lim should be a model for all those who aspire to be a “real” darting professionals while making a living and supporting a family. Many of his exploits can be found on Wikipedia as inaccurate as that can be. During the playing of the 1990 Embassy World Darts Championship, which at the time was the pinnacle of Dartdom, Lim tossed the first 9-darter on TV “live” against Irishman  Jack McKenna. He would earn £28,000 (a little more than $50,000) for that effort – which was more than Phil Taylor made for beating Eric Bristow in the final.

Another side of Lim is his honesty and loyalty. He displayed both when he and his regular darting partner agreed to split whatever they won during the playing of that Embassy. When Lim hit the 9-darter the partner dashed out of the players’ room, where he had viewed the 9-darter, to call his wife in North America. When he returned to the players’ room with face aglow he was met by the  Sage of  Sittingbourne, Dave Whitcombe, who informed him that maybe it wasn’t a 9-darter.

“I told him they were reviewing the tape…” said Whitcombe, “his face dropped for a few seconds and then he gave a nervous laugh. He asked an official if what I told him was true, and the official said he didn’t know. The lie held up as much as possible but he did have a minor heart flutter as he wasn’t sure if what I was saying was true. I tried to keep it up as long as possible. Of course he was happy in sharing in Paul’s achievement but his face dropped through the floor when it was learnt about the tax laws for overseas sportsmen/women. I think it was about a third shaved off for tax.”

In 1994, Lim showed his loyalty once again when he joined fellow American players in giving the English players creditability in forming the WDC which later became the PDC. The PDC has repaid those players by telling them to “FO.” No wonder we threw their tea in the harbor. Ungrateful bastards.

With many titles, his three wins in the Pacific Cup may be his crowning achievement in steel tip. He won the first Pacific Cup Singles representing Papua New Guinea where he was working as a chief in Bourneville. Then he won two while representing Singapore and probably should have had a 4th representing American in 1988 but he lost in the semifinal to teammate Jimmy Damore in a match that Demore should never have been allowed to win. It happened only because the American captain had her head where the “sun don’t shine” while also being very busy acting important. She did important good. Damore got drilled by Aussie Russell Stewart in the final.

Lim moved from his native Singapore to the USA heeding the words of Horace Greely who said  “Go west, young man, GO west.” Didn’t think Horace Greely was that big in Singapore. Well wonders never cease.  At the time America, if you were a dart player, was the place to be. There were numerous “big money” tournaments – most now gone – which  attracted very good players playing against each other. The competition was fierce. Each time out Lim competed against the best. Not only did he survive he prospered. In time he became the ADO Points Champion which at that time actually meant something.

Lim was one of the first to “see gold in the hills of the soft point game.” He’s a giant in the soft point game with millions of fans worldwide. His signature soft point dart is one of the largest selling in Asia, a major market.

Lim is back playing for Singapore as he did recently at the International Darts Federation World Cup of Darts in Shanghai. Yes, dear reader it is hard to keep the many World Cup of Darts events separate. This one is soft tip with lots of money. The premier event is the team event with a first place payout of $15,000. A team is three men and a lady. For Singapore it was Paul and Harith Lim (no relation), Alan Chau, and a really pretty lady named Xue Er. Of course all the ladies in Singapore are pretty.

In the final Singapore was up against the Philippines, an emerging power in soft point darts. In the race to 7 Singapore held a 6-4 lead after capturing the two 501 games. The Philippines drew level by taking a pair of cricket legs in part to “bad strategy” on the part of the Singapore team.  More specifically, the lady player. It was also noted that “The Philippines girl just got better and better under pressure, which I cannot say about the Singapore girl,” wrote our on sight reporter.  “The Philippines closed the 701 tiebreaker just in time, as the next throw would have put Paul Lim with three darts to close from 32.”

In many dart discussions the term “marketing” is used. Most don’t have the slightest idea what marketing is. Going to Wikipedia, which we know is FOS, “marketing is the process of communicating the value of a product or service to customers for the purpose of selling that product or service.” So when the call goes out for the ADO to market darts, what is meant?

To Paul Lim marketing was simple. Take the game seriously, add in winning play, being accessible to fans and foes alike, and top it all off with a dash of a pleasant personality and hard work. It wasn’t important to be the last person at the bar at night. That was the job of guys who can’t play and want to write about darts.

In 1946, the manager of the New York baseball Giants, Leo Durocher, said of his cross town foe the Brooklyn Dodgers,

“ Nice guys finish last.”

He  said of beer, “To some it’s a six-pack, to me it’s a Support Group. Salvation in a can!”

Obliviously Leo Durocher never met Leong Hwa.

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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