Column #HR253 An all-encompassing International Darts Hall of Fame… and the DRA is whack-a-doodle!

Monday, March 18, 2019
Column HR253
An all-encompassing Darts Hall of Fame… and the DRA is whack-a-doodle!

The Old Dart Coach was recently bemoaning the absence of an all-encompassing Darts Hall of Fame – a place of recognition for all the great darters, not merely those in the separate PDC or USA Halls. (Just to be clear, the ODC has been known to bemoan things daily, forgetting most instantly – although though that’s not true with grudges.  They, like diamonds, last forever.)

Tooling around, he heard on the radio, “As we get older there are times when our memory is not as good as it used to be. Just one pill a day with help alleviate congenital mature memory loss. He sped home and ran lickety-split to the computer for his free 30-day sample…

“Whoops, he thought, “What pill?”

Not to be forgotten are the first members of the ODC’s International Darts Hall of Fame. Any Hall worth its salt must start with Mr. John Lowe, Eric Bristow, Jocky Wilson, Bob Anderson, Phil Taylor, Dave Whitcombe and Barry Twomlow from the Motha Country.

From the USA?  Ray Fischer, Jerry Umberger, Rick Ney, David Miller, Dave Kelly, Danny Valleto, Danny Pucillo, John Kramer, Darin “Big Daddy” Young and Larry “The Eagle” Butler.

From Canada? John Part, Tony Holyoake, Bob Sinnaeve, Albert Antsy and Avatar Gill.

Nicky Virachkul (USA via Thailand), Paul Lim (the world), Mr. Stefan Lord (Sweden), Raymond van Barneveld (Netherlands) and Terry O’Dea and Russell Stewart from Australia round out the first class of “declared” males.

The ladies are represented by Maureen “The Queen of Darts” Flowers, Dr. Linda ‘WB” Batten, “The Grand Dame” Ms. Lil Coombs, Mandy Solomons, Sonja Ralphs, “The Witch “Judy Campbell, “Queen” Deta Hedman and Trina Gulliver from England.  From the USA, Helen Scherbaum, Sandy Reitan-Green, Kathy Maloney, Kathy Karpowich and Stacy Bromberg join the class. Internationally, add in Vicky Pruim (Belgium/Sweden), Yoko Koyama (Japan) and Lillian Bird (New Zealand).

Oh, by the way. The ODC’s in the hall. It’s his Hall.

Darts has gained major sport status.  With that popularity comes a responsibility to govern responsibly as the spotlight of social (and especially unsocial) media shines on it.  Decisions made in governing can’t be made behind closed doors.  Alas, the bad old days of dart dictatorships may not be as far as they appear in the rearview mirror. As drivers know when checking cars in the side rear view mirror, “Objects may be much closer than they appear.”

Take recent decisions by the Darts Regulation Authority (DRA). The DRA, a five-member board, has the responsibility of ensuring “good governance and integrity within the sport of darts.” Some decisions appear to very stupid and silly which in darts, for years, has been exceptionally common.

The rulings run from Michael van Gerwen being fined £750 for smoking in the venue (Off with his head!) to Gary Anderson being levied £1,000 for “inappropriate behavior outside the venue” (A dastardly deed to be sure!) to Adrian “Big Baby” Lewis who drew a £3,000 fine and suspended sentence for being Adrian Lewis.

This year’s action also found Gerwyn Price being fined £21,500 plus a three-month suspension for “gamesmanship” and an “inappropriate post on social media.”  Taking gamesmanship out of darts is like taking “sledging” out of cricket or “chin music” out of baseball.

Then there was a genuine head scratcher. Mickey Mansell was fined £500 for “not playing to the best of his ability.”  Before you emote a “WTF” (Well That’s Fine) take a deep breath.

This doesn’t mean that when on the first day of the Ladbrokes UK Open when #1 Michael van Gerwen went out to #19 Mervyn King (10-6) or when #4 Gary Anderson crashed out to #22 Steve Beaten that they’ll be under investigation for “not playing to the best of his ability.”  Nay, nay.

TV presenter Wayne Mardle was highly critical of the DRA’s decision, in part saying if Mansell was fined £500 for “not playing to the best of his abilities” then “fine me a million.” In the same interview Mardle mentioned two Australian players fined $750 (Australian) or $5631.52 by the DRA for “fabricating the results of a group match in a tournament.”

The DRA wording of the Mansell decision is “ambiguous, cryptic, murky, indecipherable and incalculable” – words probably not used by Mardle.  Mardle might say, “The DRA’s Berlin Wall is like a wooly hat and scarf giving the sport a zig and zag. The decision may be influenced by Scotch Mist where Mansell is treated like bacon sarnie at a Kensington Palace afternoon tea.”

The Aussie’s behavior, fixing a match, jeopardizes the foundation of the PDC’s financial support.  Without Ladbrokes, Unibet, BetVictor, Bwin, William Hill, Betfred and Betway the PDC darters would be playing for considerably reduced purses, no TV and at £100 exhibitions.  Betting’s the fuel that powers the PDC engine.  Even hinting at a match irregularity is like tossing sand in a Formula 1 engine.

Mansell issued a statement accepting the results of the DRA ruling. Mardle asked, “Where was the Dart Players Association which is supposed to represent the players?” The answer? They’re a myth. The PDC and TV have the final say. The Players Association was given the message to “dummy up.” Knowing which side their bread was buttered on – they did.

The UK Open was a graveyard for big-name darters.  This year, youngster Nathan Aspinall merged triumphant with an easy 11-5 win over Rob Cross.  Aspinall dotted the “i” on his win with a sensational 170-check in the winning leg.  Aspinall made his first splash when he reached the semifinals of the PDC World Championships.

The Premier League has provided many surprises this year.  The players inserted on a weekly basis (replacing Gary Anderson) have proven successful as each has performed credibly. The player insertion idea came from Sky Sports and the PDC was not initially keen. Now? It works, which will prompt the PDC to include “new players” on a weekly basis in years to come.

A surprise was the resurgence James Wade briefly atop the Premier League standings. However, in week 6, Wade would get drilled 3-7 by Mensur Suljovic and drop to third position. Michael van Gerwen and Rob Cross now share the lead with records of 4-1-1. It’s no surprise to many that Raymond van Barneveld has nary a win. The ODC remembers he predicted both these events.  Well, he thinks he did.

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.