Column #HR201 PDC World Cup VI – so many memories!

Monday, June 5, 2017
Column HR201
PDC World Cup VI – so many memories!

When the Old Dart Coach was but a toddler each Saturday morning he’d be glued to the radio for his favorite program, Grand Central Station – “…the crossroads of a million private lives, a gigantic stage on which are played a thousand dramas daily.” Each program chronicled at least one of those dramas and stories.

The stage at World Cup VI may not have played out a thousand dramas but it was on the wire. It has its share of stories though, which hopefully will be retold each year when nations converge for the PDC World Cup. But first…

For the third time in six years the Netherlands were crowned World Cup champions when they beat Wales 3-1. Not only did the guys from the Land of Wooden Shoes and “special brownies” get the cup but also each took home a check for £30,000. Last year, they had lost a heart wrenching final to England.

The finals had little drama but some great darts as Wales was in deep water from the start even though Mark Webster took down Raymond van Barneveld to level the match after Michael van Gerwen hung a 4-0 doughnut on Gerwyn Price to start. They took the doubles 4-1 and the reverse single with Barney over Price, never trailing. The Welch players will bank £16,000 a person as runner-ups.

Just prior to the final day of World Cup VI the ODC was taken to the woodshed, albeit gently, by his German friend Holger Frommann. He pointed out that in the initial World Cup column the ODC failed to mention the German team of Max Hopp and Martin Schindler. Bad ODC. Both Hopp and Schindler were spectacular. Against the Netherlands in the quarter-finals Schindler had Michael van Gerwen down 2-nil before losing 4-2. Hopp was even better when he took a 2-0 lead against Barney, fell behind 3-2, leveled with a 105 check out, and then closed the deal for the win. Even in their 4-1 loss in the doubles they played great. Love that when starring at an exit while the Netherlands sat on 48, Hopp tossed a T80 to leave 4.

The Netherlands followed that up that win with a trashing of defending champion England, 2-0. Pre-tournament, the ODC asked if Adrian Lewis would be able to fill the shoes of an absent Phil Taylor. That question remains unanswered. Against van Gerwen he did have darts for the win but succumbed 4-3. Barney had his way with Dave Chisnall who was probably a little nervous in his first World Cup. It didn’t help that when he stepped to the line the crowd would sing “There’s Only One Phil Taylor.”

Wales got to the finals by overwhelming Russia 2-0 and 8-1 in legs won. They did the same thing to Belgium in the Semifinals 2-0. Belgium had been better than good up to that point including their over Singapore 2-1.

Singapore, Germany, and Russia were the only unseeded teams to make the final 8. As such they became fan favorites as underdogs will. Singapore, which took out the top seed Scotland, gave Belgium a good tussle, losing 2-1. Kim Huybrechts beat Paul Lim (4-1) averaging 122 and winning in 11, 12, 12, and 14 darts. In losing Paul averaged over100. Harith Lim bested Ronny Huybrechts 4-1 to force a double which Belgium would win 4-2.

Belgium was a different pair when Wales beat them 2-0 in the semifinals. They were not good. Yes, as the late Sid Waddell said, “It is a funny old game.”

After 24 hours of watching darts it would unnatural for the ODC not to have something to complain about. It’s his nature…

Most prominent was his irritation with the announcers, Not Rod Harrington but Wayne Mardle, who seemed absolutely obsessed with the fact that the players were playing best of 7 or best of 9. By almost actual count this was mentioned 2,415 times. “In this short format anything can happen.” Then there was, “If you make a mistake, in this format you will be punished.”

Listen you moron, if you’re doing a one-day cricket test do you say, “Well, it’s a one day test and with this format anything can happen”? Of course you don’t. How about a mile horse race? Do you opine, Well, it’s only a mile and anything can happen.”

A mistake punished? My goodness, the very thought. That is what sports is all about. Make a mistake and get punished. There usually aren’t any “do-overs” in sport.

In the years to come the stories of this World Cup will surely include…

…The emergence of Germans Martin Schindler and Max Hopp as 20-year-olds bursting onto the global darting scene.

…’The Boys from Brazil with the Samba music walk on with the pure emotion they brought to the game.

…The Russians with Aleksandr Oreshkin’s “Don‘t try this at home style” combined with the smooth play of Boris Koltsov.

…And Austria’s Mensur Suljovc who showed that he can win on biggest stage.

…The Brothers Huybrechts who destroyed averages each time they toed the oche. The genuine affection that they have for each other.

…Then there’s Scotland, the #1 seed that went out in the first round maybe because they didn’t have affection for each other.

…The entrance on the world stage of Canadian John Norman Jr. He’s got a tour card. It’ll be interesting to see what he does with it.

…An American team that did what they were supposed to do.  They beat the team they should and damn near beat the team they weren’t expected to beat, losing 2-1 to the Netherlands.

There are many more memories including the fact that “Hey Baby” was sung 50 times. The ODC would like maybe 50 more.

But the one memory that will always remain is the class and elegance of the Boys of Singapore. The ODC is slightly prejudiced as he’s know both of them for years. When Harith Lim was criticized for being a soft point player he posted before their quarter final match, “Maybe I should have played more steel.”

It was the perfect stage for Paul Lim to show the world what many of us have known for years. He is the ultimate gentleman. When he left the stage he thanked the audience for allowing him on their stage. He is a class act of which all darts needs more.

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.