#HR138 “Darts. A test of my skill against your luck.”

Tuesday, May 26, 2015
Column HR138
“Darts.  A test of my skill against your luck.”

It’s not well-known, but the Old Dart Coach has more principles than the Las Vegas School District.  Granted, he doesn’t let those principles get in the way of having a good time.  One rule he never breaks is to publish emails in Toeing the Oche that are threatening, conformational or begging for attention.

Recently, an email arrived at the control center…

“Little Buddy.” (Notice it starts with flattery.)

“Yet another great article if I dare call it that. (Well, what would you call it?)

“The only reason I keep up with the accolades is that one day, yes one day, I’ll get a small mention!” (Not going to happen.)

The ODC can trace his infatuation with International darts to a hotel in Vancouver, Canada in 1982.  The 1979 World Cup in Las Vegas doesn’t count as the ODC arrived in Las Vegas clueless and left the same way in an amber fluid haze.

It was a Sunday in Vancouver as the not yet ODC made his way to the semi-circular lobby bar.  He was in that city to watch the second edition of the Pacific Cup while rooting on the American team of Wade McDonald, Judy Campbell, Sandy Reitan, and Andy Green.  Never one to allow and empty bar or a lonesome bartender go to waste, he ordered a beer.

As the beer arrived so did this big blond-headed fellow and a small guy with glasses.  Hearing them talk with “Ahas” sprinkled in, the deduction was made that they must be locals.  As lager is good not only as aiming fluid but also for making new friends, a conversation ensued.  Seems the big guy was named Tony Holyoake while the smaller person was Greg Lazaruk.  Lazaruk was called either ‘Trigger” or something else.

During the conversation, the ODC learned that Holyoake was the top player in Canada and, with Lazaruk, half the Canadian Pacific Cup team.  Later, it was learned that Holyoake was actually from England and a mate of Mr. John Lowe.  That Pacific Cup began the ODC’s passion with International darts.  The now retired from darts Holyoake?  Rumor has it that he sends emails to various dart sites asking that he be mentioned.  Pathetic.

The PDC was founded partly on the principle of fairness for players.  In the past, pre-PDC, too often players throughout the world were rewarded not for their playing ability.  They were rewarded for placing their “soup coolers” on the backsides of whomever the “Grand PooBah” happened to be in their area or country.  In England, it was Mr. Oiley Croft.  Please him or you were in deep trouble.  The PDC was to change that.  Well not always.

In the past, we’ve seen the PDC ignore some of Mr. Taylor’s antics, quietly penalizing players that tried to “rig” matches and offer incentives to non-PDC players they wanted in their ranks.  Of course, like Hillary Clinton’s email server and phony foundation, “there’s no poof” – as Clinton apologist Lanny “Poo” Davis would say.  There is common sense.

The latest case is of the PDC leaving Dave Chisnell off the traveling squad for the “exhibition” called the Dubai Duty Free Darts Masters.  It’s a reward for good play.  Not many have played better than Dave Chisnell, who is ranked #8 in the Order of Merit and, but for a missed double, would have been in the finals of the Premier League.  Instead, #21 Steve Bunting, the Peter Griffin look-a-like, will get the payday.  Bunting was the 2014 BDO World Champion from Lakeside.  There were rumors that if he “jumped” to the PDC his paycheck wouldn’t be honored by the BDO.

Just weeks after the conclusion of the Lakeside event, Bunting accepted a PDC Tour Card.  Was he given any incentive to jump?  No “proof” – but common sense says otherwise.  For Chisnell, one piece of advice: moisten up them soap coolers.

One of the principles of individual sport is “expect the unexpected” or the only “sure” thing is there’s no “sure” thing.  During the playing of Chisnell’s semifinals Premier League match against “Cousin” Gary Anderson, Chisnell never trailed until the final leg.  He had leads of 6-3, 7-4, and 9-8 before being leveled at 9-9.  In the decider, Chisnell opened with T80 and was at 32 after 12 darts.  At 32, with three darts, it should have been a “sure” double to win.  Not so.  Chisnell missed darts at double 16, 8 and 4.  Anderson took out 116 for the win to reach the final.

How could he miss 32 with three darts?  Eric Bristow has a clue.  “My mate @ChizzyChisnall choked 9-9.  That’s your dream with 3 darts at 32, no excuse pal.”

“Marvelous” Michael van Gerwen trailed Raymond van Barneveld 7-4 until he took five legs on the trot, giving him the lead 9-7 that he held to win 10-8.  The Anderson-van Gerwen final looked like another win for the Dutchman as he jumped to a 2-nil lead with Anderson missing doubles, which is his Achilles heel.  Anderson got off the “synder” with a 64 finish, following that with wins in 7 of next 10  legs for a 9-7 lead.  During that run, van Gerwen missed 14 darts at doubles.  Taking the final two legs, Anderson won the Premier League and £200,000.

To wrap up this “effort,” the ODC made his last International appearance, such as it was, at the Pacific Cup in 1994 in Vancouver.  For 12 years, the ODC had attended every Pacific and World Cup.  The final event was held at the same hotel where his infatuation with International darts began.

The Canadian team of John Part, Carl Mercer, Patricia Farrell, and Andrea Gilroy took the gold.  For the first time in the history of the Pacific Cup America didn’t finish in the top three in overall team standings.  Their only silver came thanks to Linda Sims and Marilyn Popp.  The Americans did get a flock of bronze medals, which considering there were only four teams is nothing to crow about.

The ODC got the chance to help then NDFC President Ed Oliver organize and run the event.  Both did a heck of a job.  Having forgotten the “soup coolers on the backside principle,” it was time to retire.

The circular bar?  Yep still there with the same bartender.  When he saw the ODC, he said…

“Haven’t seen you in a while.”

“Twelve years.”

“Say, someone’s been looking for you.”

It wasn’t the big blond fellow named Holyoake but another friend from Canada and that story is better left for the ODC’s next book.

The winner of the singles at the 1994 Pacific Cup was Australian Russell Stewart.  Russell recently posted the best definition of darts seen in some time…

“Darts.  A test of my skill against your luck.”

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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