Column #HR247 The World Championship is days away and the PDC has checked all but one box!

Tuesday, December 11, 2018
Column HR247
The World Championship is days away and the PDC has checked all but one box!

This is the traditional holiday column in which the Old Dart Coach kicks things off by singing “Deck the Hall with balls from Holly,” one of the great Christmas tunes. Too many people in the world today forget that Christmas is about the birth of Jesus. Jesus worked as a joiner, called a carpenter by Yanks. Mr. John Lowe also labored as a joiner.  Just reporting the facts.

For the PDC darters it’s time to say goodbye to 2018 and hello to a 2019 PDC year that will yield an estimated £14 million or $21,664,351 and a meaningless 86 cents. That’s a heck of a long way from doing “one-nighters” for 100 pounds with all the beer you could drink and phone numbers for your black book with the advice: “If a man answers hang up.”  The Edwin Hawkins Singers can be heard singing “Oh Happy Day.”

Johnny Mercer and Rube Bloom collaborated on the 1940 song “Fools Rush In.” The opening two lies are “Fools rush in… Where angels fear to tread.” The ODC’s no angel – proven beyond doubt – rather, many times a fool so he rushes in with wild abandon.

For any popular sport there’s always a bit of controversy (properly pronounced: “CON TRAV IS SEE”).  Raymond van Barneveld announced that this will be his last year of darts. A kerfuffle ensued. The peanut gallery – long on opinion, short on common sense – has come out in full-throated opposition to Barney appearing in the Premier League. When asked, Wayne Mardle spoke vociferously echoing the words of an ad executive when asked what his agency was doing for Greyhound Bus.  “Putting asses in the seats.”

Mardle was a little more diplomatic, although not much. “It’s about putting bums on seats. It’s about selling out arenas.  Who would you rather watch Jamie Lewis or Ray van Barneveld?”

In answer to those that say, “You can’t put Barney in the Premier League. What’s he done? What’s he done?” Mardle machine-gunned, “Besides 5 world championships… absolutely nothing.  Absolutely nothing apart from a Grand Slam, a Premier League… he’s done absolutely nothing. He’s someone that may have changed the landscape of darts in Europe… so, he’s done absolutely nothing.”

Mardle could have added, “…you ignorant bastards!” He didn’t.

“It’s not fair,” some say.  The PDC isn’t about fair – it’s about money.

Recent studies indicate that the major concerns in the world today are climate change, drinking beer in a cup that isn’t recyclable, fish eating plastic straws, bathroom choice and Caucasian men. No idea why non-Caucasian men get a pass, but they do.

The PDC checked off the first two concerns when they announced with trumpets not blaring that they will be serving beer at the Ally Pally in “reusable cups.”  This to assist in the fight against climate change. The estimate is that 800,000 beers will be consumed during the 16-day tournament.  Quite possibly, some will engulf more than their share of the golden elixir, become disoriented and wander into the wrong restroom.  Shazam!  THREE boxes checked: climate change, reusable cups and on a technicality, bathroom choice.

The conventional wisdom, which seldom is, holds: as Caucasian men run the PDC there’s no PDC women’s tour.  The PDC kind of responded to that “criticism” when they opened the World Championship to two female qualifiers. The “screaming banshees” will claim that pressure by them caused the PDC to capitulate.  Dream on. All they did was check a box.

An example of Caucasian males actually acquiescing occurred many years ago at a tournament in Elmira, California. The ladies convinced the always amendable males to schedule the ladies’ singles on Saturday afternoon rather than morning. Following the morning’s open doubles (31 teams), many men adjourned to an open air bar across the street to drink beer and play horseshoes while singing “Elvira” along with the Oak Ridge Boys.  The ladies’ singles drew 21 ladies.  Come the mixed doubles the men that did show were unfit to play. The event became Open “kind of” Mixed Doubles with 19 ladies and 6 men recycled.

When the £2.5 million 2018/2019 William Hill World Darts Championship opens on December 13 at the Alexandra Palace there will be two women, Lisa Ashton and Anastasia “The Russian Fox” Dobromyslova, in the 64-person field.  Both ladies went through qualifiers open to all ladies or those that felt they were. Another box checked.

For the first time, a lady will be in the Sky commentary box alongside Wayne Mardle, Rod Harrington and John Part. Trina Gulliver, the #8th ranked lady player, will be joining the boys.  This hire by Sky has also raised the ugly head of controversy. Some say there’s no ugly head. But that’s not the point.  Just in is a blog that claims the hiring of Ms. Gulliver was so Sky could check at least two of the politically correct boxes.

“Make no mistake, the only reason that she was picked is solely to appear politically correct – and by hiring her they get to tick the women and gay boxes.”

The remarks are pure conjecture, offensive to some, bordering on unfairness with a degree of rudeness mixed in.  Then again, there’s more than a modicum of truth considering today’s PC environment.  The hiring is also a little “Take that!” from Sky Sports to PDC major domo Barry Hearn. The two free women’s qualifiers drew 250 entrants. Ms. Gulliver wasn’t one of them as a 10-time world champion and still playing at a high level. It would be delicious if either Part or Mardle ask her why she didn’t enter a qualifier.  Won’t happen.

Only time will tell if Ms. Gulliver is actually qualified. She can quiet all critics by her performance behind the mic. As one that has been in her position the ODC knows the challenge she faces. His first try was okay, the second better and the third REALLY good. At least he thought so, others not so much. He got fired with no offers in the last 20 years. Now that’s a hiatus.

As another former joiner she may find the switch to behind the mic more difficult that cutting a 2×4, hammering a nail or taking 100 out with three darts.  If she doesn’t shine, a herculean task, then it will be an experiment that failed.  Sky will get brownie points and check boxes and get kudos from the watercress sandwich and champagne set despite the results.

The PDC and Sky still need to address the problem of fish eating plastic straws.

MERRY CHRISTMAS and HAPPY NEW YEAR!

 

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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.