Column #HR283 Rest well with the angels, Dave Kelly

Tuesday, June 9, 2020
Column HR283
Rest well with the angels, Dave Kelly

These written efforts to chronicle darts began in the late 1970s when a very nice lady asked a “B” league dart player to do a column for the Northern California Darts Association newsletter. (The lady requests that her name not be used.)

That was the birth of what was called “A View From.”  As the years passed the column’s name was changed to “Howie’s World” (for Bulls Eye News and the Indianapolis Sports News) and then morphed into “Toeing the Oche” (for the Pattaya Mail, Pattaya Times and now Dartoid’s World).

The “B” leaguer’s darting prowess never progressed. Hopefully, the writing has.

Some columns write themselves.

This is not one of those.

This time, putting words on paper is like pulling a tooth from an angry tiger.

The author was lucky to have found himself in the middle of the Golden Age of Darts which spanned from roughly the mid-1970s to the mid-1990s – well before the PDC and machine darts restructured the darting landscape.

As the years passed, more and more players from that Golden Era were called to Heaven.  This past week two were called.  One was Charlie Cressmam, a double tough player from the East Coast.  It’s been said that he may have been the best “money player” ever.

The Golden Era has yielded many of its nuggets to God.  The list grows longer with each passing day.

Gone are Rick Ney, Dick McGinnis, Danny Pucillo, Danny Valleto, Nicky Virachkul, Barry Twomlow, Eric Bristow, Leighton Rees, Jocky Wilson, Judy Campbell, Pat and Gerry McCarthy, Helen Scherbaum, KC Mullaney, Stacy Bromberg, Peggy Phillips, the Fleetwoods, Bill Nicoll Sr., BJ Clark and Drew Beams – along with a host of others.

The call came for the biggest nugget in the Golden Age’s stock of solid gold when time ran out for 24 karat Dave Kelly.  Kelly was often referred to as DK in this space. As Anne Kramer quite correctly observed, Rest well with the angels, Dave, and take your seat at the legends table in the great dart tournament in the sky.  No truer words were ever written – although this may be the first time DK has been considered an angel.

But that’s no problem as with charisma that far outdistances his 6’ 5” plus frame he’ll have the angels asking what tune he’d like to hear on their harps. Hope they know hard rock.

If DK walked into a room of complete strangers, he’d know everyone within minutes and each in turn would know they had a friend for life.

Of the Golden Age it’s been said that every tournament was a “no host cocktail party.”  When the event included DK, it was a really BIG “no host cocktail party.”

Condolences poured in from all over the world, from the famous in darts to the fans and friends.  Once one came under the Kelly spell a personal friendship lasted a lifetime…

As his really good friend Goodie wrote, He would always join in for a cocktail.

David Brook lives in Thailand on the banks of the Mighty Mekong.  He wroteMet him on my first trip to Vegas. Spent time and shared beers with him on every subsequent visit. The Sahara of course was the initial meet point. Years passed… friendship continued. Sadly, now that comes to end… but the memories will stay forever.  Farewell my friend.

Kelly was a guy from Boston who loved the Celtics, the Red Sox and the Patriots.  He was passionate about his city, darts and his friends.  Two of his “pals” included Celtics all-time great Kevin McHale and Larry Bird who he taught to play darts.  Make no mistake, DK could play darts against the best winning more than he lost.  He was a fierce competitor although always a gentleman, win or lose.

Three-time World Champion and the always articulate John Part wrote, Dave was a man whose talent and charisma made you believe anything was possible.  His very presence at darts events gave the game that little bit extra that told you here is a sport, the sort of activity the best of the best can pursue with dignity.  A fierce competitor whose passion doing so was only equaled by his magnanimity and leadership off the board, Dave was a beacon who easily drew people to himself and the game, and became the iconic American leader who rallied his compatriots to accept nothing less than equality in the world of darts, both by example and spirit.  The ultimate teammate is gone.

It has been said that “behind every successful man, there is a strong woman.”  For DK that woman was Sally Kelly.  Living in Las Vegas, DK was fighting a losing but vigorous battle with cancer.  Although separated, Sally insisted that he return to Boston to be near his two children, Kennedy and Michael.  Sally took over the role of keeper as she provided whatever was necessary for his comfort.  She saw to it that he had his friends around him as his battle continued.  When the end came, he “just went to sleep holding Sally’s hand.”

The bright shinny beam of light that was Dave Kelly has been extinguished.  He was as relevant today as he was in the late 1970s.  He was indeed, as Anne Kramer stated, a legend.

It would take eons to retell DK stories.

Everyone that knew him had a story.

There’s no need to embellish this story as this author once spent two weeks with Kelly in Thailand and Singapore.  He was a party just waiting to happen, a pure delight to be around as his light engulfed those within his vicinity.  Close friend David Miller wrote, YOU AND THE KIDS ARE IN MY PRAYERS… RIP MY BROTHER.

No more will DK light up a darkened room bringing light to the dark simply by his presence.  No more will his Irish charm capture the hearts of men and women.  No more will his smile welcome all into his world.

A solid gold nugget has been removed from the National Treasure.  It can never be replaced.

Dave Kelly was rarer than Haley’s Comet.  The world may see another Haley’s Comet, but the world will never see another Dave Kelly.

There is no joy in Dartsville as Mighty Kelly has struck out.

Tonight, we drink not in thirst but in the memory of our friend who has been taken from us.  May God welcome him with open arms.

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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.