Column #HR215 Paul Lim – you did us PROUD. Keep it going!

Tuesday, December 19
Column HR215
Paul Lim – you did us PROUD.  Keep it going!

Aided by copious amounts of Miller Genuine and a nice cigar and to borrow from the Huey Lewis album, Sports: “THIS IS IT” – the ODC’s last column of 2017 (which no doubt will be greeted by cheers from the darting world).

‘Tis the time of year when the ODC looks back…

Saying goodbye to a year is not always difficult but saying a permanent goodbye to friend is. A past joy was visiting the New Orleans (called N’awlins by locals) Darts Open. The ODC often had the opportunity to pay homage to Popeye’s on Canal Street, which he considered the “home church.”

When friends move on to that old blind draw in the sky the goodbye is done with sadness and fond memories of good times, good darts and maybe even a little “golden elixir” along the way.

On December 10th, those from the Golden Age of Darts bid “goodbye” to a fixture of the N’awlins darting scene – Richard Banquer. Richard, not Rich, was always there to welcome darters when they arrived for the New Orleans Open. His day job was driving a cab in Metairie. At night he played darts while singing Cajun. He was the host when Jesse would throw his FREE Saturday night Crawfish Feed at the Stage Door Bar in the French Quarter – where Richard’s wife Diane worked dispensing liquid joy.

There was a night when the ODC, with “a friend,” joined Richard and Diane for a night out. After eating enough oysters to provide talent for 100 hours of porn movies, the quartet arrived at a rather seedy bar (there’s lots of them in “The Quarter”) next door to the famous House of Blues, where the line to gain entrance stretched a couple of blocks. Inside the bar was just as advertised – filled with the usual French Quarter locals four deep…

“What you havin’?”

“A Bud.”

Richard muscled his way to the bar and returned carrying 8 beers.

“Why 8 beers?”

“Follow me,” he ordered.

We followed Richard to the back of the bar where there were three doors: “Men,” “Women” and one plain. Motioning us to follow he opened the plain door (thank goodness, as drinking beer in a restroom was not on the ODC’s bucket list). We stumbled a short way through the darkness, eventually to be slammed with smoke, heat and noise.

“Wait here.”

Richard reappeared with two cane chairs for the ladies. We had found our way backstage at the House Blues, watching someone who was obviously popular drinking Bud.

RIP Richard you were a one of a kind.

Darters from the Golden Age got an early Christmas present. On December 18th, Paul Lim turned back the clock when on stage at the Ally Pally he came from one set down to defeat former BDO world champions Mark Webster 3-2 ( 3-2, 2-3, 2-3, 3-2, 3-0) to advance to the second round. The win was all the more dramatic as Lim missed darts at double 15 in the 4th set to win the match as Webster took three-darter to extend.

The decider was a good old fashion “butt kicking” as Webster wilted under the pressure while the 63-year Lin grew stronger. It didn’t help Webster’s frame of mind as Lim made 89, 114 and 80 disappear on the way to a 3-0 set win.

Lim managed to toss 6-180’s averaging 95.98. Not too Chablis.

To get to the Webster match Lim had to defeat Hong Kong’s Kai Fan Leung, which he did Captain Oblivious sighting – 2-0. Neither Webster nor Leung was born when Lim first appeared in the World Championship at Lakeside in 1982.

The crowd, which at times seems more interested in downing “brain liquid” and working on sing-a-longs, adopted Paul Lim as “their guy,” singing his name as they’ve done for Phil Taylor. They came a little late to the party as the darting world adopted Paul Lim as their own a long time ago.

Lim was one of “ours” when he played at first for Papua New Guinea, then his birth nation Singapore, then America – and we still love him now that he’s again playing for Singapore. Of the late Barry Twomlow it was said, “He taught the world how to play” and called him “The International Ambassador for Darts.” Paul Lim is all that – he’s all that is good about the darts. He represents the pure joy of competition combined with a gentlemanly demeanor and a heart that belongs to Andre the Giant.

“It’s been an unbelievable night,” said Lim.

It was for us also.

Darter par excellent Larry Butler pretty much speaks for all darters. “I don’t care where you were born, or where you now reside, you are as much a part of American dart history as anyone, and way more than most.”

“How is North American doing at the PDC?” At press time, Canadian Jeff Smith beat Luke Humphries 2-0 in his preliminary match averaging 95.39 while hitting 6/7 doubles. It was a different story against two-time world champion Gary Anderson in the main draw when Smith’s average fell to 78.38 and he hit only 2 of 11 doubles, losing 3-0. Paul Lim will play Anderson the 22nd.

South Dakota’s Willie J. Bruguier went down 2-1 to New Zealander Cody Harris in a match that was there for the taking. Unfortunately Willie J. was a little short on scoring. He made the USA proud though with his demeanor as he displayed pure joy at being center stage. Bruguier, who has five children age 5-19, in real life is a police officer who runs a staff of 16. Proud of you Willie J.

In the coming year, Chris “The Great” White will be heading across the pond to attend PDC Qualifying. “Great White” can be supported by all of North America hailing from Canada then taking a backward step moving to California. The PDC Qualifying school has extra importance now as PDC Chairman Barry Hearn announced there will be no entry fees for PDC events in 2018. That’s worth £4,000 per year.

Hearn sat down with the Sports Gazette and discussed the PDC/BDO divide. “My job was to hold out the hand of friendship when I first took over. I said to Olly Croft, who was head of the BDO: ‘Look, I’m not party to this history. Shall we sit down and talk and see where we are?’ And he wrote me back a line ‘I see no point for a meeting.’ I wrote back. ‘In that case, I will f*ck you within every inch of your life.’ And I have.”

To clear the slate for the New Year the Old Dart Coach has a confession to make. He’s in a consensual workplace relationship.

MERRY CHRISTMAS to all and God Bless.

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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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