Column #HR243 All Hallows Eve

Thursday, October 25, 2018
Column HR243
All Hallows Eve

All Hallows Eve. The Old Dart Coach relishes this as one of the best holidays of the year. It’s trick or treaters, little children all dressed up in costumes and adults of the “decline to state culture” doing the same. The ODC doesn’t trick or treat or dress up but does remember fondly one Halloween night many years ago. It was a dark and stormy night when his ex-wife climbed on her new “super sport” broom to fly around with the other bats. When the GPS malfunctioned, the broom crashed into a power pole giving the ODC a treat to last for ages.

Michael van Gerwen got an early Halloween treat when he annexed his eighth European title of the year. He added £25,000 to his bank account when he went through the field in Gottingen like a Vegas hooker thru money. In five matches van Gerwen went 33-13 with his only close call coming against Steven “Family Guy” Bunting 6-4. His 8-3 win in the final over James Wade produced the same results as the European Grand Prix last May.

There was a short window of excitement against James Wade as Wade took a 2-1 lead until back-to-back 12-darters by “The Marvelous One” gave him the lead 3-2. Then, it was time for a little exhibition darts. van Gerwen extended the lead to 4-2 when he took out 119 with bull-19-bull. Dank je wel!

The win was van Gerwen’s 28th European Tour title. “I never get bored of winning, I want to keep going until I get to 50 European Tour titles at least!” Captain Oblivious writes, “Winning is never boring.”

Shed no tears for PDC players as 62 of them have earned £51,500 or more according to the Order of Merit. van Gerwen leads the pack with £1,652,500. This is not the “pro” dart player of yesteryear playing four or five events a weekend hoping to break even or traveling three or four to a car doing exhibitions for a £100. Today’s PDC players are rock stars. They drive high end cars and would not be caught dead mingling with the “common folk” for free. They have become the deity.

There was a time when pubs in the UK were removing dart boards as they moved to fruit machines, singalongs and Quiz nights to draw patrons. In the USA bar owners removed steel dart boards, replacing them with machine darts. As Michael Corleone said to Sonny, “It’s not personal. It’s strictly business.”

Don’t blame the American Darts Organization. Like the ODC’s parents, “they are doing as well as can be expected with what they have to work with.”

The PDC came along and rejuvenated the UK dart scene with the collateral damage effecting the British Darts Organization, today but a shadow of its former self. Consider that the BDO’s premier event, the BDO “almost” World Professional, has a date (January 5-13) but no venue or sponsor.

In the USA there’s no PDC to increase interest, participation or income for bar owners in steel darts. As to collateral damage many would agree that the “top to bottom” standard of USA darts has diminished. Once competitive on the world scene now, with a few exceptions, US players today fall by the wayside. The WDF World Cup is also a victim of PDC collateral damage. It was once a premier event in darting. Now? An “Oh, by the way event.”

Still, the WDF World Cup is a measuring stick of “amateur” darts. The USA team was once a factor but no longer. The USA ladies won the title 1987, 93, and 97. Here maybe a little blame should fall on the ADO. The next World Cup will be held in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, October 8-12, 2019. Yet, the ADO will be making their final two player selections November 5, 2018, in Denver at the US Team National Final. Two men and two ladies have secured their place on the team via a points system. So far, Leonard Gates and Jim Widmayer will be joined by Paula Murphy and Stacy Pace.

It’s pure lunacy or ignorance – if winning is important – to select a team 11 months before the event or to allow a person to qualify with one result.

As one gets older there are more tricks than treats. Darters from yesteryear have grown older while their compatriots have gone on to the Big Dart Tournament in the sky. With each passing the heritage that lit those “golden days” grows dimmer until eventually that light will be extinguished. They were the pioneer’s that carried the USA to darting glory.

Recently, one of those pioneers passed away. The Facebook posting drew more than 45 responses. “Gerry McCarthy passed on last night. She was a special person. She’s now reunited with husband Pat. Knowing them you can almost hear Pat saying, “What the hell took you so long.” May God bless her with kindness as she did those who knew her.”

Gerry Dover-McCarthy, although she would never stand for being hyphenated, won the North American singles in 1971 and 72. Gerry and her husband Pat took some time off before reemerging in the 1980s. Both were members of the old Royal Hawaiian All-Star Drinking Team when it was the premier club in the world of darts with members from the four corners of the earth.

Anne “Sleepy” Kramer,” who was told of Gerry being moved to a hospice wrote, “I knew this post was coming. I was hoping it would not be so soon. We have come a long way since that ladies’ trip where I got to know Gerry a lot better. She was such a fun spirit and a great competitor. I am sad that she had to go, but happy that she is back with Pat and Charlie sitting at a table at the great dart tournament in the sky.”

David Miller wrote: THEY WERE REAL PEOPLE SO NICE TO EVERYONE… LOVED HER… MY MIXED PARTNER FOR MANY EVENTS… CARRIED MY FAT ASS MORE THEN ONCE… RIP MY DEAR FRIEND.”

Another light gone. Another page torn from the history of darts.

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.
Howie Reed

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