Column #HR227 Ghostly prophetic…

Wednesday, May 9, 2018
Column HR227
Ghostly prophetic…

After each column the Old Dart Coach receives a tsunami of questions. The most prominent of those is “Why don’t you just hang it up you ignorant old live-in-the past-know-nothing geezer.” The ODC discounts that question as it comes from the same 500 regular readers every time.

Ed Oliver is a very good friend of the ODC’s from Canada. At one time his company, Premier Sports, was the leader in bringing UK darting talent to North America for exhibitions and personal appearances. Among those were Eric Bristow, Bobby George, Jocky Wilson and Bob Anderson. Oliver worked early with fellow Maple Leaf John Part before he became known as John “Darth Maple” Part, world champion. As full disclosure is really big these days the ODC also did some work for Oliver while proudly wearing the Premier Sports’ shirt. It was at Oliver’s bequest, as President of the NDFC, that the ODC developed and ran the 1994 Pacific Cup in Vancouver and staffed many Canadian national championships.

Oliver asked, “Are machine darts really taking over in North America?” The simple straight forward answer is YES, at least as far as the United States is concerned. As to Canada it’s a “maybe yes” as they still supply top notch steel players. English traditions – steel darts and their funny way of talking – run strong in Canada.

Dart shops or suppliers will tell you that machine darts supplies are on the ascendency. Pub owners know that “thar’s money in them thar machines.” Another indication of the strength of machine darts is the number of tournaments held throughout North America. The flip side of that is the dearth of big money steel tournaments. The once vibrant steel dart tournament scene has gone the way of the celluloid collar and feathered flights.

The once premier steel tip dart tournament, the North American Open Darts Tournament, is but a memory. The last one, in 2000, was run by the “professionals” of the PDC (Dick Allix and Tommy Cox) and Accudart’s David Kurtz. It died a painful and unrealized death. In its place, kind of, is the January Las Vegas Open. It’s a big tournament thanks to the American Darts Organization holding its national championships there. Without the ADO it’d be just another good tournament.

It would be unfair to blame the American Darts Organization for the demise of steel darts. The gold standard for world darts organizations for years was the British Darts Organization. The argument can be made that the BDO not only ruled the UK but the world. They have fallen on hard times. Their demise is directly tied to the rise of the PDC, a professionally run organization, which has made darts truly professional.

Recent reports out of England are that some sponsored BDO premier events lost big money. “The last 2 World Darts Catas Trophy events lost nearly £200,000.” It appears the BDO also lost £80,000 on the 2017 Winmau World Masters, suggesting that except for a few dartboards Winmau gave “Sweet Fanny Adams.”

The premier BDO, the BDO World Championships at Lakeside, has yet to sign a TV deal with Channel 4. The culprit here is the PDC and totally incompetent BDO leadership. Some things transcend national borders.

Machine dart tournaments are going strong. Since the mid 1980s, the Memorial Day weekend has meant the Bullshooter in Chicago run by Arachnid. This May, there’s more than $140,000 up for grabs. Currently playing in Las Vegas is the NDA (National Darts Association) Team Darts event which runs for 7 days with $500,000+ up for the taking. The NDA event is co-sponsored by Arachnid, Valley, Radikal and Phoenix.

DARTSLIVE brings its’ World Stage 1 to the Plaza Hotel in Las Vegas on May 11-12 where the champion collects $15,000. The early entry list includes a “who’s who” from the machine dart world along with some of the best steel darters from North America. PDC pro Justin Pipe dips his toe in the machine waters which he may find cold, deep and unfriendly.

US Dart Masters Champion Willard “The Chief” Bruguier returns to his soft point roots. He warmed up by winning both doubles across town with Kyle Liddeke at the NDA tournament. Owing to the rules of political correctness the ODC states only that Bruguier won, not that “the Chief was on the warpath” or “he scalped his opponents.”  (EDITOR’S NOTE: The ODC has a problem with the spelling of Chief. He spells it Cheif. We’ve tried to teach him “I before E, except after C” but the tutelage was wasted and not appreciated.)

Also warming up at the NDA tournament were “Chainsaw” Joe Chaney, Chris Lim and Leonard Gates among others.

One sign of the demise of the importance of steel darts, at least in America, is the fact that younger players are coming into the game via the machine darts ranks.  With the PDC World Cup coming up at the end of the month America is again sending the same two players. It would be impossible to argue that either Larry Butler or Darin Young do not belong as America‘s Team. Both players have been at the top of their game and for the most part dominating steel darts in America. There are no young players challenging.

The PDC has announced that the Grand Slam will have its trophy named after the late Eric Bristow.  For some that’s too little and a little too late. The PDC would have been viewed in a more favorable light had they stood by Eric when he was taken to the woodshed for doing what he was hired to do. Express his opinion.

Eric’s girlfriend, Bex Gadd, has been widely quoted about details of his death…

Eric collapsed minutes after hosting a VIP meet-and-greet event where he entertained his devoted fans. His love of drinking and smoking was much-publicized, (he) was rolling a cigarette when he died. There was a half-rolled on the ­pavement next to him. He probably got to heaven and thought, ‘I didn’t get to have my fag.’

In a footnote to Eric’s death is a note he posted in his darts diary just before leaving for what was to be his last public appearance.  It’s ghostly prophetic…

Thursday waiting for Joe to pick me up. Feel bad. Cold sweats. It feels like my heart is going to explode. Don’t like it. Going to ECHO – the show must go on.

The show will go on but without one of its guiding lights shining bright.

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.