Author Archives: Howie Reed

Column #HR286 World Matchplay wrap-up – and more BLM!

Wednesday, July 27, 2020
Column HR286
World Matchplay wrap-up – and more BLM!

The Old Dart Coach fell off the soapbox last week.  Battered and bruised he’s rejoining the fray…

Of course, darts has always required skill, predominantly hand-eye coordination, and stamina – when prodigious amounts of “aiming fluid” and “group tighter” are involved.

But nowadays in many quarters not as much skill is needed (certainly in the machine darts game) – the boards are friendlier; the doubles and triples are larger and the bullseye is the size of an elephant’s rear.  Bristle boards have a thinner spider and no longer have staples.  Bounce outs are virtually nil.

World Matchplay Quarters

By quarter finals time most of the £700,000 Betfred World Matchplay tournament seeds had bid adieu to the Marshall Arena.  Six of the top eight had gone down “like the girl at Garfield’s in Angeles City, Philippines.”  Only Michael Smith (#5) and Gary Anderson (#8) remained.

The quarter finals meant the difference between £50,000 and £25,000 for the winner.  Ratajski, Whitlock, “Big Baby” Lewis, Durrant, van den Bergh and van der Voort all had slim pickens lately.

The methodical Krzysztof Ratajski from Poland dug himself a hole and was unable to take advantage of Michael Smith as Smith faltered, as he has want to do in crucial situations.  It was a contrast of styles.  Smith’s delivery is smooth as pouring hot maple syrup.  Ratajski’s is more akin to cold maple syrup.  With the same averages, Ratajski’s 39.39% check rate just couldn’t get the job done.  Smith got his head back into the game for the 16-13 win and a place in the finals.

Simon Whitlock was still basking in the spotlight after his hit job on Michael van Gerwen.  He got a cold dash of reality losing to Gary Anderson 16-12.  Anderson led all the way.  Whitlock got the “walk arounds” which Anderson took advantage of.  Off the oche Whitlock made news.  His knurled points tore up the board like puppies do to furniture when Mom and Dad are out of the house without permission.

Whitlock took to social media (which is often very unsociable).  “Getting bored about my points damaging boards.  The problem is the boards are too inconsistent – ‘hard/soft/hard’.  Give me decent boards and I’ll adopt my points to suit.”

The ODC must agree with Wayne Mardle.  “No board would survive those barbed battering rams.”  Note to Simone Whitlock: You arrogant Aussie jackass.  NODOR is a sponsor and you bad mouth them to feed your surely deflated ego.  Grow up.

Adrian Lewis showed up for his game sporting the grunge-ola look.  In early rounds it looked like maybe the two-time world champion might emerge from hibernation.  But Dimitri van den Bergh quickly built a 10-3 advantage.  After two breaks and maybe a good chat with himself, Lewis would grind the match to 12-8 before they split the next 8 giving van den Bergh the 16-12 win.

After Glenn Durrant beat Vincent van der Voort 18-16 (must win by 2 legs) Durrant said, “The better players lost tonight.  I was a beaten man.  I don’t know how I won.”  No truer words were ever spoken.  The comeback from 9-5 down was aided by some of the best choking seen on TV since the rerun of the Boston Strangler.  Van der Voort lost his bottle and acted like a horse’s ass.

The Dutchman began to unravel when Durrant pulled 3 darts out of the board minus one of the points.  Caller/referee Kirk Bevin called for a change of boards (as he should have).

Then came the 22nd leg…

The unraveled Dutchman needed d18.  His first dart was high and his second inside, leaving 9.  In a fit of childish behavior, he tossed his third dart under-handed.

Referee Bevin called it a “no throw” (as he should have) causing van der Voort to reach the boiling point. He was still alive at 15-15 when his collapse was complete.

Walking off stage he pointed at Bevin as if he didn’t play like a wally.  One comment found on the internet said of the Dutch: “They even make the French appear almost normal.”

Semi-finals

The bookies called the Gary Anderson vs. Michael Smith semi match dead even.  It looked that way as Anderson led by 5 legs (8-3 and 14-9) on the way to 17.

In the race to 17 (must win by 2) Anderson held for 3-2 lead at the first break.  When Anderson was up 8-4, he missed checks of 161, 126 and tops which turned a possible 11-4 lead into 8-7.  Smith drew level at 9 and then at 14, 15 and 16.  Anderson then got on track with 2 on the trot for an 18-16 win.  The pair played 34 legs in 1 hour and 10 minutes.  This sent Anderson to his second Matchplay finals.  His last took him OT to beat Mensur Suljovic 21-19.

In the 2nd semi Dimitri van den Bergh built a 9-5 lead before Glen Durrant grabbed 3 on the trot to narrow to 9-8.  When Durrant missed d18 to level the young Belgian added 3 to take the match to 12-8.  Never out, Durrant won 5 of the next 6 to draw even, then led 14-13.  Shared legs put Durrant in the driver’s seat at 15-14.  But making like Belgian bicycle great Eddie Merchx, van den Bergh sprinted out for the 17-15 win.

The final

Then on Sunday and for the first time since 2006 a player making his debut captured the Matchplay title.  Dimitri “the Dream Maker’” van den Bergh became two-time world champion Gary Anderson’s nightmare – sending him down to defeat 18-10.  The win secured the Phil Taylor trophy and a £150,000 bank account boost for the gentleman from Antwerp.

The first “pause for the cause” break had Van den Bergh ahead 3-2.  Anderson seemed uncomfortable being unable to find a triple.  In an unusable move Anderson changed darts – something that only Peter Wright does during a match.  It might have helped as they were 5-5 at the next break.

Leg’s 11-14 changed the course of the match.  First, Anderson pegged T30 for a 6-5 lead.  van den Burgh answered with a T70 to even it at 6.  They tied again at 7 in the 14th leg when the Belgium then took off.

He would get to 10-7, then win 8 of the next 11 for the victory.  Anderson, usually known for scoring, couldn’t and only once found a maximum.

Could this have been more than a replay of the 1990 Embassy World Championship when Phil Taylor unseated Eric Bristow for his first major win?  For Taylor, the rest is history.  Bristow would make the Embassy finals 4 of the next 5 years – but never win again.  Could it be a premonition?

Finally, the ODC was pleased to see the Sky Sports personalities wearing BLM pins.  It’s about time.  For far too long black labs have been relegated as poor relatives of chocolate and yellow labs.

Stay thirsty my friends!

 

 

 

 

 

Column #HR285 Matchplay and Racism?

Wednesday, July 22, 2020
Column HR285
Matchplay and Racism?

All sports and those who write about them are part of a circus and “under the big top” today the not invisible “elephant in the ring” is racism.

The definition of racism (which the majority of people surely can’t recite) is prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against a person or people on the basis of their membership in a particular racial or ethnic group, typically one that is a minority or marginalized.

Seems straight forward enough.

Today, there’s a demand that athletes speak out on social problems about which way too often they are uniquely unqualified.

Ask them about racism and you’ll get talk of “feelings.”  In the USA basketball players LeBron James (Lakers) and Steph Curry (Warriors) never miss an opportunity to denigrate America.  For instance, they give China a pass as players rake in millions of dollars from endorsements paid for by Chinese slave labor making their brands.

Unfortunately, NO sport is exempt from this kind of behavior.

The ODC was not surprised when he turned on the PDC Matchplay to find Devon “The African Warrior” Peterson in a short sleeve shirt and vest pontificating on racial healing.  On his chest was a pin declaring “Black Lives Matter.”

Peterson, it should be noted, is a decent dart player, a native of South Africa now living in England.  One doesn’t have to wonder why Sky Sports picked Peterson to be the spokesman for the PDC.  Sky needed darts to bend over and join the rest of “WOK” TV sports.

Of course, Peterson was selected because he’s a person of color – so it’s assumed he not only knows the subject but has answers to all racial problems real and imagined.

Did the PDC give even a moment’s thought (if they were consulted) that Peterson comes from South Africa which for eons has been synonymous with racism?

If Peterson had taken the time to read about BLM, he might have been surprised by their guiding principles…

BLM called for decarceration in the United States; reparations for slavery in the United States; an end to mass surveillance; investment in public education, not incarceration; and community control of the police: empowering residents in communities of color to hire and fire police officers and issue subpoenas, decide disciplinary consequences and exercise control over city funding of policy.

Nowhere in these principles is there anything about equality or living or working together to solve real problems – they merely represent someone’s concept of Utopia.  Read closely, the principles urge a return to a segregated (set apart from each other, isolated or divided) society that most have wanted to eliminate.

And we’ve done a damn good job of achieving that, not that there isn’t more work to do.

Here are some quotes from Peterson…

The difference between racism and a deadly tumor is that a tumor can be diagnosed and cut out.

He mentions the George Floyd death…

That’s a deadly tumor that has to be cut out.

Fair enough, the policeman has been arrested, been charged with murder and will probably spend the rest of his life in jail.  What else would Mr. Peterson want?

Peterson continued…

It’s a whole host of feelings that you have (he has).

Sky said the Peterson grew up under apartheid in South Africa.  That’s not entirely true.  Peterson’s 34 years of age and apartheid laws disappeared 29 years ago.  Mr. Peterson spouts nothing new, certainly nothing that others haven’t said time and again, typically lacking substance and supported by little more than their “feelings.”

There is nothing as foolish as a sports figure who gets out of his comfort zone to pontificate on matters of which they’re ignorant.  Ninety-nine percent of all sports stars know very little about the world around them. The same percentage holds true for the sports writers who cover them. They both spout “bumper strip” mentality thinking they sound smart. The arrogance of ignorance…

The Old Dart Coach has a couple of scruples which the general public never associates with dart players.

Foremost is to be truthful to those uninitiated to the dart players “club” – in which the members rank slightly above lawyers, used car salesmen and politicians. While unfair, it is what it is.

Scruples is defined as a moral or ethical consideration or standard that acts as a restraining force or inhibits certain actions.  As stated above, the ODC has them but rarely allows them to interfere with his life.

As honesty is the best policy, especially when there are no other options, the ODC admits that he’s stayed away from “virtual” darts much like he’s avoided real work for a lifetime. This condition notwithstanding, he was compelled for some unknown reason to turn on PDC-TV to check out the £700,000 World Matchplay held behind closed doors, sans fans, at Milton Keynes. The event would see 32 players in the race for the £150,000 first place check and the Phil Taylor Trophy.

The first-place check is a far cry from the one Larry “The American Bald Eagle” Butler cashed in 1994 when he won the first World Matchplay beating Dennis Priestly 16-12.  The prize was £10,000.

About that same year the ODC put on a tournament at the Sands Hotel Casino in Reno, Nevada.  It was the first time that any tournament in America had paid $10,000 for a first place in the singles event.  “Rocket” Ronnie Baxter won it and yawned while the owner of the casino counted out the cash.  He also got a Silver Trophy Buckle.  Bet he has nothing but memories left.

The ODC must congratulate the PDC for the injection of phony crowd noises that sound real during Matchplay.  Regardless of what happening on stage there’s a constant rumble of sound, including the eruption of cheers when a finishing double is scored.  In most PDC events this is a rarity, especially once the “singing fluid” has taken full effect.

The ODC suggested that maybe the PDC should add some singing of “Hey Baby” and “There’s Only One Phil Taylor.”  The suggestion was not rejected out of hand but did receive the following response: With the crowd noise, we’ve also had a request from Gary Anderson for some people booing him every time he’s on a finish.

Matchplay reigning champion Rob Cross got dusted by Gabriel “The German Giant” Clemens 10-8.  Peter Wright’s saw himself in a pickle against Jose de Sousa.  At 8-5 I was fed up – I took the glasses off because I was battling the glare. I couldn’t see properly.  He escaped 10-8.  While #2 seed Wright escaped, 3 of the seeded 8 didn’t – #3 Gerwyn Price, #4 Rob Cross and #6 Nathan Aspinall.

Round Two saw “All Universe” Michael van Gerwen unceremoniously ejected by Simon Whitlock 11-4.  In 15 previous meetings the “Marvelous One” was 15-0 against Whitlock.  Whitlock jumped off to a 5-0 start which had the fat lady licking her lips.  Never within 3 legs, van Gerwen missed 20 doubles (he hit 4 of 24).  His 16.7% finishing percentage was akin to that which a “C” player might achieve – and be proud of.

At the rate seeds are dropping it just goes to show that seeding is best left to farmers.

A trip to the circus every year is a must.  Loved the seals.  They could balance a ball on their nose, play the trumpet and put a ball through a hoop.

Bet basketballers James and Curry can’t balance a ball on their nose or play the trumpet.  Seals win.

So does the PDC.

Can’t say the same for Mr. Peterson and Sky TV.

Stay thirsty my friends.

Column #HR284 As the Darts World Turns…

Wednesday, July 15, 2020
Column HR284
As the Darts World Turns…

The longest daily “soap serial” in the USA was The Guiding Light. The daily program ran for 72 years on radio and television. The Guiding Light is only topped for longevity in the USA by the Grand Ole Opry which started in 1929 and is still going.  A sister show to The Guiding Light (As the World Turns) ran for 54 years.

What in the name of all get out does this have to do with darts? Has the Old Dart Coach finally gone around the bend with any chance of redemption a longshot at best?

Probably, but wait…

The definition of a soap opera is a serial dealing with domestic situations characterized by melodrama and sentimentality.  “A crucial element that defines the soap opera is the open-ended serial nature of the narrative, with stories spanning several episodes.”

Those darters in the Motha Country may recognize the definition of a soap opera, especially the melodrama and sentimentally aspects, with the events surrounding the rise, stumble (and probably) fall of the British Darts Organization.

From world domination of the sport in the 70s, 80s and early 90s the BDO today is not only skinned but a mere cork in the ocean appearing to aimlessly bobble along. This decline saw the BDO lose control of the World Dart Federation which they had enjoyed for ruling for eons.

It does no good to look backward to fight past battles as hindsight is always 20/20. The past is gone, and any energy devoted to it is a waste of time except to make sure the same mistakes are not repeated. Kung Fu has affected all sports and with no tournaments, and dart leagues at a standstill, the sport of darts is naturally plagued by revenue decreases.

The BDO doesn’t have Covic-19 as a crutch to explain its apparent demise.

Reports on the BDO are like fleas on a dog. They are plentiful, hard to ignore. One gentleman associated for years with darts in the UK is Roger Nickson.  Nickson was the “Governor” of three highly successful darts pubs (Morning Star, Cricketers and Lewiston Arms) in the London area. He also managed the London Countryside and then served as the first General Secretary of the original Players Association.

Nickson calls ’em as he sees ’em with perfect vision. In short, “he tells it like it is.” The ODC leans on him for BDO information.

Nickson writes: Wow, what a month for darts. The BDO commercial arm “Enterprises” goes into liquidation with Des Jacklin (BDO Chairman) saying ‘None of this insolvency is what it seems.’ The former headquarters, Muswell Hill home of the Croft family, is sold and the final link with the original BDO is severed. Currently three separate bodies are competing for the support of inter-counties darts.  

The latter was a base that always seemed sturdy.  Today, Nickson moderates the new Facebook group “Darts from the Past.” Really good stuff.

With the formation of the World Professional Dart Players Association (1980) the handwriting was on the wall for the BDO.  In the USA, the introduction of electronic darts at about the same time was a warning shot across the bow of the American Darts Organization.  Both organizations had little or no opposition up to then so they became nonchalant (or arrogant) assuming “things would always be the same.” Both never learned how to act; they only knew how to re-act. In the competitive sport marketplace innovation and sponsorship rule and “those who snooze lose.”  The “leadership” of the BDO and ADO slept while their organizations burned.

Credit should be given to the PDC for keeping darts alive in this period of Covid-19 worldwide panic. Like boxing shows from Las Vegas held in a “bubble” the PDC held a 5-day event in Milton Keys in a “bubble” inside the Marshall Arena. No fans, just players. Each day offered a total of a £75,000 with £10,000 going to the winner.

Opening day saw the top two players in the world in the final as Michael van Gerwen faced Peter Wright. It was a new look for Wright as he was wearing glasses but in the end they didn’t help. van Gerwen broke on top to lead 5-2 only to see Wright go on a roll with a 116-check while van Gerwen missed to lead 7-5. van Gerwen’s 72 finish then followed with double 2 for a decider.  Wright’s T80 got him close at 64 when van Gerwen turned out the lights erasing 76 with tops.

The second day saw familiar names except for Ryan “Who?” Joyce who took home the winner’s check. To reach the final he took out former world crampon Gary Anderson 7-3. Joyce fell behind Dave Chisnall 6-2 and 7-3 in the race to eight. A person who writes on darts has called Dave Chisnall a “choker” – a handle that is completely unfair except this day against the little-known Ryan. While leading, Chisnall seemed to have trouble breathing. Mouth-to-mouth arrived too late for him as he missed 5 match darts losing 9-8. The win puts Joyce in the World Matchplay July 18-26 in the Marshall Arena “bubble.”

On day three “Marvelous” Michael van Gerwen emerged on top. His first 4 games saw him lose only 7-legs. For those keen on averages he averaged 107 during his 7-4 win over Chris Dobey. To reach the final van Gerwen took the semifinal 6-4 over Canadian Jeff Smith, North America’s only entrant. Facing Portugal’s Jose de Souza in the final van Gerwen fell behind 2-0 which could well have been 3-nil except for a missed top on a 117-check.  When you come to “Kill the King” you’d better kill him. de Souza didn’t and lost 8-3.

The “real” James Wade has been absent or inconsistent at best. Wade emerged on the fourth day with a superb performance and his first 2020 win. He had 100-plus averages including a 6-0 Snyder of Michael Smith.  Wade’s semi was a walk in the park as he prevailed 7-4 over Ian “Diamond” White. There is a rumor that “Diamond” White is actually a cubic zirconia. Rob Cross strolled 7-2 over “Good Guy” Mensur Suljovic, including a 9-darter.

Wade and Cross split the first 4 legs when Wade caught fire, including 108 and 156 checks, on four consecutive legs for a 6-2 lead and an 8-2 win.

Day 5 went to World Champion Peter Wright who hardly broke a sweat with his semi win of 6-5 against Nathan Aspinall the only close call.

When Matchplay begins (July 18-26) defending champion Rob Cross has a good first round draw against a debuting German Gabriel Clemens. Michael van Gerwen gets Brenden Dolan as World Champion Peter Wright gets a red-hot Jose de Sousa.

The moral of this story?

If As the (Darts) World Turns you’re an organization with a Guiding Light that’s just a burned-out match, then your best bet is to run to find a menu…

…and order your last meal.

Stay thirsty my friends.

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.

Column #HR282 Alright already!

Thursday, May 21, 2020
Column HR282
Alright already!

Like most everyone the Old Dart Coach has had it up to here with the coronavirus or Covid-19.  Photos of the virus, which looks like a golf ball sprouting mushrooms, appear wherever one looks. As the late Irene Maude Reed would say (using a fake Jewish accent to sound like Molly Goldberg of the original Goldberg’s TV show), “Alright already!”

While all sports have been affected most will bounce back with ridiculous ease. NASCAR has already started in the Colonies.  That won’t be the case for steel darts in the USA.

Our sport in the USA has been on tender hooks for years ever since machine darts took center stage. The break of a year isn’t going to help.  Machine darts (a game) will come roaring back since each league or area has a promoter (operator) and pub owners whose financial wellbeing is at stake. “Follow the money!”

The ODC thought that the “little guy” in Jerry McGuire said, “Follow the money.” He was wrong – the “little guy” said, “Show Me the money.”  So close.

In real life “Follow the money” is attributed to Mark Felt, aka “Deep Throat” of Watergate notoriety. (The ODC went with Linda Lovelace.)

The American Darts Organization (ADO) tournament schedule has been shredded like parmesan over a nice pasta. They’re not alone as the WDF/BDO/PDC have major cancellations followed by hope and a prayer re-scheduling at a later date.  That scenario is dodgy at best as everyone and their brother (even if they don’t have one) is pontificating on when sports will return.

Darts has made an attempt to remain “prevalent” with virtual matches that have all the excitement of the sun rising in the East and setting in the West. Using that as a given the ODC, known for reporting drivel, will report on two virtual matches only because they involved Phil Taylor playing a pair of ladies.  To add a touch of legitimacy there were financial enhancements for the players that went to charity.  T80s were worth £1,000 and a one dart out £200. To the ODC a “one-dart out” is a myth perpetrated by people who can actually play.

Taylor’s first Paddy Power match against Raymond van Barneveld raised £15,000 for charity. Taylor was up 6-2 but then lost 4 on the trot to end up on the short end of 7-6.

When Taylor met Fallen Sherrock the game was played on a machine board. To give the feeling of “real” the players, in their respective homes, were introduced by the smartly dressed and exuberant John McDonald.  Despite standing in front of a wall with only a dartboard he was brilliant. When he finished, he checked the mike and then exited as the camera followed out the door – showing him sans shoes.  Heck, a guy can’t remember everything.

The match itself was fun when Taylor won the first leg, then fell behind 4-2, 5-3 and 5-4 before drawing level at 5 in the race to 7.

Taylor went ahead 6-5 when Sherrock threw 7 perfect darts leaving 81. She then went for the T19 hitting a single then tossed for a T15 and hit it, leaving 17.  Taylor took out 46 with 3.  Sherrock would level at 6.

In the decider Sherrock had the darts and opened with back-to-back T80s, then 60 to leave 81 with Taylor away at 167…

No problemo! 60-57-dead bull. Winner-winner chicken dinner.  Taylor would average 116 as opposed to Sherrock’s 121. They would win £16,200 for the National Health Service.

The resplendent John McDonald out did himself when introducing the match between Phil Taylor and “Miracle” Mikuru Suzuki. When introducing Taylor, he was looking skyward, possibly taking his cues from the Tungsten God (as most should when mentioning the name Phil “The Power” Taylor).

When finished, McDonald could be heard saying, “Not bad that. Smashing. Didn’t forget anything.”  Then he clapped his hands and exited stage right as the camera followed – displaying the fact that McDonald forgot his pants.  He’s a boxer guy.

Taylor jumped ahead from the get-go, leading 5-2. With 3 on the trot Suzuki leveled at 5 but fell short, losing 7-5.  At 6-5 Taylor wanted 189.  He threw T80 which gained £1,000 for his charity but left him with 9 which he took out with 3. The pair earned £11,200 for their charities.

There’s an Irish Lug Head who purports to comment on darts. The real fact is that he seldom has a kind word to say for anyone. One of his constant targets is darts commentator Wayne Mardle.  As Nurse Jackie says when the ODC picks on her “Stop it!”  The charity dart matches were made much more viewable thanks to Mardle’s commentary.  He’s good so stuff it you Irish Potato Head.

Roger “The Dodger” Nickson remembers the night that “Coat & Tie” David Justice brought the ODC to his knees at the Oche..

“The night out was in Camden Town; I believe we went to an Italian before meeting Dave in the “Mother Red Cap.”  Justice comes from the old days of darts and is still living up to the spirit of the days.

“Just spoke to Dave; yesterday he took 3 weeks washing down his local launderette at 11:30 am along with a bottle of Jack D.”

Lesson learned. Never go to the launderette without the proper essentials. Wonder if soap was included although it doesn’t go well with Jack D.

George Santayana wrote, “Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.” In darts that wouldn’t be a bad idea.

The aforementioned Roger Nickson was Governor of three dart famous pubs around London – The Morning Star (aka The Morning Sickness), The Cricketers and The Lewisham Arms.  “Dixon” was also the Secretary of the first Players Association.  Back then, he wrote everything in cursive handwriting.  Nickson has established a Facebook page called Darts from the Past.  In just a short time it has more than 3,500 friends.  Those in the Colonies who remember fondly those Golden Days might check it out.  There are posts from Bill Specht, DK (Dave Kelly), Russ Lopez and even the ODC. Them was the days.

The ODC found a new friend on Facebook – a darter from England. His daily posts provide a chuckle. Two of his latest…

“Don’t believe everything you read in public toilets! Sharon was not up for a good time! What an awkward phone call that was.”

“The Irish have solved their fuel problems and imported 5 million tons of sand from Kuwait.  They’re going to drill for their own oil.”

Stay thirsty my friends.

Column #HR281 Beware! They walk among us!

Wednesday, April 29, 2020
Column HR281
Beware! They walk among us!

With sports in virtual mode until goodness knows when, the Old Dart Coach has to actually do some creative thinking – a task which many, including his Most Honorable Editor, label “impossible.”

The PDC has transformed into virtual group matches called the Unibet Home Tour on Thursday nights. In this event 4 players will play from their homes in a round robin format. 128 players will compete over the course of 32 nights. Some of the big names in the PDC have opted out including Gary “Gary, Gary” Anderson, Michael van Gerwen, Barney and Daryl Gurney. Others may follow.

Needing 128 players there’s a great chance that some non-card holders will be included as some players will play more than once. The format?  Best of 9.  The winners of each of the 32 nights advance to the next round. The excitement is palpable which equates to a “non-fever pitch.” The alternative is actually talking with a “maybe significant other (sometimes a stranger)” while being home quarantined.

In the Colonies “Chainsaw” Joe Chaney is playing virtual games on Facebook. Viewers who are hooked on these virtual matches have been cooped up way too long – probably having run thought jigsaw puzzles, knitting and painting the bathroom while running low on spirits.

In one case, someone, “…found a woman in my house. Had a long chat with her. Seems she’s my wife. Rather pleasant person and she cooks.”

Dave Justice was one of the early great London players. He always played the game in coat and tie.  One night while pub crawling with Roger Nickson in London the ODC was introduced to Justice. Nickson mentioned in passing that Justice used to play for London. In coat and tie Justice asked the ODC if he’d like a game. The ODC, figuring he could beat anyone who played in coat and tie, accepted. It was a slaughter which the Humane Society should have stopped. A shamefaced ODC pleaded an injury, stopping the massacre.

Justice contacted the ODC to inform him that the Robert Burns’ quote in the last column was incomplete. The ODC wrote, “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men,” leaving off, “Gang aft agley.”  Justice noted that, “I’m sure Jocky Wilson would have picked you up on it.” The ODC replied that most of his readers have trouble with Yankee-talk let along Scottish.

Justice remembers a 1970’s radio match played in the Kingsway Tavern. He played alongside the greats Tommy O’Regan and Alan “The Ton Machine” Glazier for the BDO Counties London side. Great story from them Golden Years.

Really old Geezers will remember the 1914 melodrama film serial, The Perils of Pauline. Pauline appeared in the cinema each week with another short installment from 20 to 30 minutes in length.  Each episode ended when poor Pauline was being “menaced by assorted villains, including pirates and Indians” with no chance of surviving. Then, as if by magic, when the next episode began Pauline was miraculously saved only to find herself in peril again as the episode ended.

Europe last saw The Perils of Pauline in 1916 and America in 1920. But fear not, dart fans – as tired as you may be of virtual this and virtual that, Pauline has returned in the form of the British Darts Organization – providing a death-defying crisis each week.

Perennially on the precipice, the BDO reaches out again and again for a “lifesaving rope” only to grab onto previously tried “remedies” that were dismal failures (like the definition of insanity) -praying for or expecting different results.

It’s doubtful that the dart God is listening.

The ODC has made many predictions, some of them wrong. With that verified he will make no prediction about the BDO or the World Dart Federation. He’ll merely report the news.

On March 17th, Des Jacklin resigned as the Chairman of the BDO.  Just a month later, he was persuaded to run – maybe for Chairman. The word “persuaded” is appropriate as it’s been reported by a sometimes reliable source that “Jacklin initially declined the invitation, although he subsequently reversed that decision and will now return to the BDO fold, however he will not resume his role as Chairman, it is claimed.”

He was then re-elected as “maybe Chairman” by 66% of those who represent the counties of the BDO.

As Joe Friday (Dragnet) would say, “Just the facts Ma’am.”

During Mr. Jacklin’s tenure the BDO made £700,000 disappear, Houdini-like. In the last year alone, the BDO made £468,000 go bye-bye

During last year’s World Masters, it was reported that fake names were entered into the draw which prompted a re-draw of qualifiers. There have been reports that this action benefited Jacklin’s wife.

Due to this controversy (pronounced “con TRAV IS he” by the Motha Country) the World Dart Federation will no longer recognize BDO-operated tournaments. (The WDF for years was under the thumb of the BDO doing more tricks on command than a monkey with 28 feet of rope.)

The last two “major” BDO tournaments (the World Masters and the BDO “Not Nearly” World Championships) have been unmitigated disasters. The BDO “Not Nearly” World Championships changed venues after eons resulting in empty seats disguised as dart fans. The amount paid to the men’s champion, Wayne Warren, was £23,000, which was the lowest sum in 30 years (and a 77% decrease from 2019).

There are reports that Jacklin will not return as Chairman but instead oversee finances before the next Annual General Meeting at which time a decision will be made, or not. That makes as much sense as the ODC guarding the last supply of Miller Genuine or Popeye’s Chicken – or setting Bill Clinton loose in a girl’s high school.

Nothing in darts is official until the Sage of Sittingbourne, Dave Whitcomb, opines. He has filed a report about being physically and emotionally abused during the quarantine.  Regardless, knowing his place in history he has posted, “Whomever voted Des back on the board wants their head examined, and like quick. This is just one disaster over another, and the counties must love the mess. The first chance to leave the players get they will take it.”

Another (alternative) view posted: “Des will haul the BDO back to the pinnacle of World Sport, the governing bodies of other sports will be clamoring for his services within 12 months. We (the BDO family) should think ourselves lucky to have him (and his missus).”

The Sage’s take on this? “Totally agree. There will be an almighty queue of sponsors and tv soon, lockdown or not!”

Then Anthony Eno wrote: “Dave Whitcombe’s not wrong – then the haters will see how great the BDO family is.”

Mr. Eno doesn’t recognize the sarcastic key on a computer.

Beware! They walk among us!

Stay thirsty my friends.

Column #HR280 Danger in success

Monday, April 13, 2020
Column HR280
Danger in success

From Day One the Old Dart Coach has exalted what the Professional Dart Corporation has done for darts.

During a recent phone conversation, a longtime force in darts said, “I never would have believed what has happened and where the sport is today.”  He was spot on.

Twenty years ago, if anyone was to suggest that a dart player would earn £1,675,000 (or $2,064,169 in real money) the guys in white coats carrying butterfly nets would have tracked him down with offers of a full ride at an institution not of his choosing.

Current PDC rankings list 32 players with earnings of more than £162,500 ($200,322).  Forty-nine have earned more than £100,500 ($123,275).  Even considering that this is a two-year rolling total it’s still great.

By any criteria the PDC is a remarkable success.  But while there’s always danger in failure there can also be danger in success.

The increasing irrelevance of the BDO, ADO and WDF is the result of some great successes enabled in large part because for many years they had no organized competition.  But over time those organizations stopped listening to anyone not “in the circle” resulting in stagnation peppered with a large dose of self-aggrandizement to support already inflated collections of bloated egos. Taking their advice was like taking diet advice from a subject on My 600 Pound Life.

The PDC hierarchy could potentially isolate themselves from outside ideas while assuming the position to embrace the “critical mass of political correctness.”  This action never increases popularly.  Playing to the “PC” crowd is a fool’s plan.

The 18th-century Scottish poet Robert Burns is given credit for writing “best-laid plans of mice and men oft(en) go astray.”  While a program or plan may have some merit in placating critics one must beware of unexpected consequences as they can sometimes be a killer.  It’s too easy to forget that “critics” are interested in advancing their own agenda, not yours.

During the playing of the last two PDC world dart championships two lady darters were included in the competition, taking the place of two male PDC players.  The two male players who cast their lot with the PDC were rewarded with the “ridged digit.”

First, it was Lisa Ashton and Anastasia “The Russia Fox” Dobromyslova.  This year, it was Fallon Sherrock and “Miracle” Mikuru Suzuki.

It’s the ODC’s humble opinion that the PDC was praying for a Suzuki win.  A win by her would have been gangbusters.  Enter Robert Burns as Fallon made it into the third round thereby being crowned “The Queen of the Palace.”

No one can dispute that inviting these talented ladies was anything but a publicity stunt – along the line of using reusable cups for pints to save fish in the ocean.  Silly.

Everyone involved in darts should bow three or four times a day towards wherever PDC Chairman PDC Barry Hearn happens to be.

When the first two women were included in the draw Hearn said (probably with a sly grin), “We haven’t done it to look good.” The statement had the ODC rolling on the floor with tears in his eyes.  Then, just as the ODC’s condition resolved itself, Hearn added, “There should be no restrictions in a sport based on ability.”

That’s pure sophistry as the PDC is based on ability.  For her performance, surviving two rounds, Sherrock got an invite for one Premier night and some World Series of Darts events.  The latter has been dubbed “the Fallon Sherrock road show.”

Enter Robert Burns.  And in stepped the Coronavirus (aka The Kung Flu) to put the kibosh on darts and all sports.

The PDC at first “postponed” the U.S. Dart Masters scheduled for New York City.  The ODC at the time predicted the event would be canceled.  It later was, allowing the PDC extras time to keep advanced sales ticket money.

One PDC darter joined the ODC in seeing through the charade.  “How pathetic it is that they claim to have postponed the U.S. Masters when they, in fact, cancelled it.  It’s not like there will be two U.S. Masters events in 2021.  It’s a pathetic linguistic con job.  It’s a predictable knife in the back of the North American game.”

With all sports at a standstill TV is replaying old events, most of which the ODC didn’t care about when they were live.

There are darts available on YouTube, one of which features the first lady to beat a man on TV.  The lady in question fell behind 3-1 to Aaorn Turner at the 2005 Budweiser UK Open after she led 1-nil.

Turner, with the darts, lead early in the 5th leg only to have the lady pin back-to-back tons for her first lead.  When they traded tons, the lady got to 104 as Turner wanted 160.  He managed 100 to leave 60.  The lady stepped up with 18, t18 and d16 for the leg and leveled the match at 3.

After a so-so start, the lady, with the darts, collected t40 and ton for a lead that allowed her to survive a t80 by Turner – that moved him within 2 points (178-176).  The lady garnered a ton to leave 76.  Turner managed a mere 60.  The lady missed d18 for the match leaving 18.  At 118 Turner missed the t20 with the dreaded t5.

Wanting 18, the lady’s first dart was wire high, blocking a portion of the red of the desired pie.  The second was spot on.

Queen Deta Headman became the first female darter to win a match against a male on live TV.  The Queen reigned – and still does.

From the “Golden Age” was the Pub Challenge when pubs played via a telephone…

Roger ‘The Dodger” Nickson, then Governor of the Morning Star in Peckham, got a call from a pub in San Francisco for such a match.

The late Phil Jones was called into officiate.

The Brits gave the ‘mickey’ to the colonists (as they have want to do) on the other end of the phone.  With Jones assistance “we kept adjusting (our) scores downwards so they wouldn’t lose interest (i.e. 140 became 85).”

The original phone call came because someone had heard about the Morning Star from a travelling Brit…

“When we agreed to the game, we thought we were taking on San Francisco’s finest.  A month later, a trophy arrived all engraved by the ‘fun dart team’ sponsored by a local paper to create a story.”

Stay thirsty my friends.