#HR145 The darts greats of yesteryear would prosper today

Wednesday, July 29, 2015
Column HR145
The darts greats of yesteryear would prosper today

The Old Dart Coach (for those who are not aware) has a bit of an ego. Sure, this may come as a shock to some, but most will shake their heads with savoir-faire and mutter, “Tell me something I don’t know.”

The Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) recently held their mid-summer “classic” in Blackpool with a total payout of £450,000. The PDC trumpeted the World Matchplay as a “major,” as they should. It was also a mid-summer dream for the many players who would cash checks. The dirty little secret is that the ODC was calling it a “major” long before the PDC climbed aboard. Did he get an email saying “Thanks ODC”? Shirley you jest.

Those who watched on SKY, through streaming or sites like First Row Sports saw one hell of a show (well once play advanced through the first round, which had scores of 10-2, 10-4, 10-5 and 10-6 – which cries out for a “mercy rule.”).

Raymond van Barneveld waved bye-bye after the first round.  Andy Hamilton took the first leg and never relinquished the lead, winning 10-7.  Mensur Suljović, aka Менсур Суљовић, is without a doubt the best dart player in the world born in Serbia and living in Austria (admittedly a small sample). He’s probably best known for his throwing style, which resembles the old “herky-jerky” deliver of 13-year major league pitcher “Herky-Perky” Bob Perky.

In the only match in the first round that went to the tie breaker, Suljović took an 11-9 victory over Terry Jenkins. After falling behind Jenkins 5-2, Suljović battled back with four on the trot for a 6-5 lead. Jenkins would level at six which was answered by three on the trot for the gritty Serbian-Austrian. At 9-6, Suljović missed the bull for the win allowing Jenkins to level again at nine.  Requiring two clear legs,  Suljović hit double 2 for 10-9 and double 16 for the 11-9 win.

The Gentle Giant would advance to the quarters when he eliminated Gary Anderson 13-9. Anderson was attempting to win his fourth major in 12 months. This would set up a quarter-final meeting with James Wade. Another former world champion, Adrian Lewis, also got the boot when newcomer Welshman, Gerwyn Price, escorted him out 13-10. Both upset winners, Price and Suljović, would end their dream run in the quarters. Price would lose to Peter “Snake Bite” Wright (16-7) and Suljović to Wade (16-11).

Phil Taylor reached the semis for the 8th straight year, having his way with Dave Chisnell 16-8.  “Marvelous” Michael van Gerwen would be the fourth to reach the semis.  Wright came out for his semifinal match with van Gerwen in white pants and shirt with blue flowers. At the time, the ODC axed himself, “Hmmm, hard to figure out whether Wright should be watered or trimmed.”

van Gerwen trimmed Wright 17-12. Wright led 3-2 after the first session, as they play five legs and then take a break for a commercial message. van Gerwen took the second session 5-0 for a 7-3 lead – and the rout was on.  The “Lurch” looking Dutchman would win 17-12.

Bidding for his 8th final in as many years, Phil Taylor fell 15-12 to James Wade, who he usually beats like Ringo does a drum. Taylor had leads of 1-0, 4-2 and 7-5 when his finishing did him in.  From 7-5, Taylor fell behind 9-7. Level at 10, Wade would build a 13-10 lead, which he never relinquished, winning 14-12. Taylor couldn’t finish consistently as Wade set up big doubles and then hit them.  Watching from su casa, the ODC commentator John Part would say, “Like the desert Arabs who finished eating their dates, Phil should not fold his tent and head home.”

In preparation for Taylor’s concession speech, former Australian International Wayne Weening commented, writing, “Here goes Taylor again… ‘I’ll be honest with you’… let me tell you something Phil, only liars feel the need to say ‘I’ll be honest with you’, as much as you do.”

The final between van Gerwen and Wade started out as a classic as they were tied at six after 12 kegs. When the Dutchman took four of the next five, building a lead of 10-6, he was on his way to the title. One almost expected commentator Wayne Mardle to say at this point, “The fat lady is wetting her lips, ready to sing.” (That’s a reference to the old theory that you can always tell when the Opera’s almost over because the fat lady is singing.)

van Gerwen would win 18-12 and collect £100,000. Wade just ran out of steam.

Brit Rob Rowlands asked Mr. John Lowe, “ John! How do you think you would fair playing against the players on the circuit today. What do you rate your chances?”

Mr. Lowe doesn’t engage in “what if” situations and never has. That doesn’t stop the ODC…

Mr. John and others of his generation – Bristow, Wilson, Anderson – would fare well in today’s world of darts.  They competed throughout the world at the highest level in the environment that existed.  Even Stevie Wonder knows that today’s PDC averages are bogus when compared with those of “yesteryear” because of the larger triples and doubles.  Toss in better equipment, less travel and more money and it all makes the comparison apples and oranges.

Maybe the most glaring difference between Mr. Lowe’s generation and today’s darters is the environment. Just a scant 4,103.5 miles from Blackpool, the CDC was holding its first Invitational in Nashville, Tennessee. For the guys of the CDC, it was a mid-summer dream that came true. The dream? A full-time North American Tour patterned after the PDC.

Just 32 players were invited with 26 toeing the oche. David Fatum would notch his first win, beating Gordon Dixon 6-4 in the final. Once home in Ohio, Dixon took to Facebook reaffirming the ODC’s view of the environment, “Honestly, the CDC events, in general, are making me spoiled to the grind of a normal ADO tournament.”

The Mr. John Lowes, Eric Bristows and Jocky Wilsons would be doing AOK today, and prospering.

Stay thirsty my friends.

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