#HR122 Len, this one’s for you. God Bless.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014
Column HR122
Len, this one’s for you. God Bless.

It’s always disconcerting when “young zipper snappers” won’t look, listen or learn from history. One wrote to the Old Dart Coach “no more old Geezer tales.” So for that swell folk, “good bye” for now. See ya next time maybe.

The North American Open was one of the premier dart tournaments in America. It was unique as the largest in the world that played singles 301 double on and double off. Each year the Brits would visit America for a month, replenish their bank accounts, then slink back to the Motha Country with pockets bulging with “Yankee dollars.” Oh their moaning and whining, “If you don’t change the format to 501 we’ll not be back. 301 is a silly Yank game.”

Of course the money was good so they kept coming and winning.

The PDC has its very own double start tournament with the World Grand Prix of Darts. Oh yes, they still whine about the double start but not too much or the powers that be will land with a heavy hand. “Whiners will be  sent to the sin bin.”

301 double/double had a great tradition in America which has disappeared mainly because “we want to be like other dart countries.” The first ADO-sanctioned 301 double/double was thrown by Dave Kelly. The ODC asked Kelly if he had ever thrown a 6-dart 301 game in the North American. “Sure many times but that was just to get on.” Little self-deprecating humor always works for good guys.

The late Carry Kolibus in either ’83 or ’84 did throw back-to-back perfect 301 games in the North American. One may ask, please do, if that ever happened in the World Grand Prix with 501 games at 9 darts. The answer is NO. The fact is that only one double-start 9-darter had been thrown in the Grand Prix and that was three years ago by Brendan Dolan. This year, there were two 9-darters thrown – and in the same match. That fact calls for a plethora of “impossibles,” an “incredible” or two and of course “unbelievable.” Enough already.

Port-sider James Wade opened the second set of his match against Robert Thornton with 160, 180 and a 161 finish for the 9-darter. Thorton in the second leg of set 4 used the same combination to match Wade’s feat… OH THE TEMPTATION to type “Wade’s feet.”

Wade would go on to win the match 3-2  (3-2, 2-3, 2-3, 3-2, 3-1) which set up his match against Phil Taylor. Prior to the Grand Prix, Taylor had been playing “toy darts” in Japan no doubt raking in the mighty Yen. One darting “journalist” attributed Taylor’s 3-1 (3-2, 3-2, 2-3, 3-0) loss to Wade to his Asian Adventure. File that puppy under “any port in the storm” which is different than “the dog ate my homework” but just barely.

Taylor lost because he couldn’t hit a double when it counted. Following a 128-finish with the bull Taylor led the first set 2-1. He then missed 6 darts in the next two legs to lose 3-2 and go down 1-nil. Second set same as the first as following a 2-1 lead Taylor missed one at tops for the set. The decider went to Wade 3-0 as Taylor couldn’t even cheat his way to a finishing double.

Wade would make it to the finals losing to Michael van Gerwen 5-3 (1-3, 3-2, 1-3, 3-1, 3-2, 1-3, 3-2, 3-0).

It was a gutty performance by van Gerwen on his way to the win and  £100,000. In the first set van Gerwen missed 4 to level losing 3-1. Up 2-1 in the second set van Gerwen missed 11 starting doubles but recovered to take the set. The third set was all Wade which included van Gerwen missing three finishing darts. Van Gerwen leveled at 2 sets with a 3-1 win that included a pair of T80’s. Van Gerwen would gain a 3-2 lead in a set that included him missing 5 starting doubles, included tossing one dart at the triple 20. Must have had the equivalent of the “Dutch walk-a rounds.” Wade missed three at double 10 for the set as van Gerwen checked 110.

After losing the first leg of the 6th set Wade took 3 on the trot to level the match lead at 3-3. Wade led 2-0 in the 7th but missed at d8, d4 and d2 for the set allowing van Gerwen to get a leg which he followed with a 177 and 106-check then a 180 and 86-out for the set.

Van Gerwen won his second Grand Prix with a 3-0 whitewash of Wade in the decider.

The North American also served as the annual get-together for darters from around the darting world.  This was especially true for the members of the Royal Hawaiian All Star Drinking Team. The politically correct changed the name to “All Star Darting Team” to appear more presentable to those that didn’t particularly care for them to begin with. The ODC claims that the club’s down fall started at that point.

The club at that time was the most prestigious in the world of darts. Its members included world champions, American champions, dating world leaders and just plain good folk. As a single club it had more competitors in the World Cup, Pacific Cup, and Euro Cup along with more World Master’s Champions and World Champions. Not too Chablis. They all had one thing in common (although they certainly weren’t) which was a like of drinks, a laugh, good friends and a love of darts.

The brain child of Mike Enright and others it grew out of the  initial Royal Hawaiian Darts Tournament (RHADT). One of the mainstays of the RHADT were Len and Leta Worrell from Edmonton Canada.  If ever a couple was meant for each other they were. They were a set. Some saw them as a set of penguins as their slight stature belied their great hearts. One of those hearts has been silenced with the passing recently of Len.

As much as they would open their hearts they would open their home in Edmonton to visiting darters. Originally from the UK, Leta would claim that they had been in Canada forever. She claimed that she was the first and oldest hooker in Canada. During a stay at their house the ODC found some credence as the red velvet flocked wall paper cried out “early bordello.”

Stacy Bromberg remembers them fondly. “A couple of wonderful people, to be sure. RIP Len. I still remember all the penguins in their house. They collected them and had HUNDREDS. He and Leta were such lovely hosts when I was at their place in years ago… great memories that will stay with me forever.”

They were and are royalty, a King and his Queen. The King has gone and our prayers are with the Queen.  It’s the Lens and Letas of the world  that made the game of darts in the Golden Age.

Len, this one’s for you. God Bless.

The following two tabs change content below.
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.

Leave a Reply